[Even before we heard the news about Chester Bennington, I’d planned to do a new Ongoing History on Linkin Park next season. But when Chester died, we had to do something quick, so I reached back into the archives for a show originally broadcast on March 2, 2008. That program has been turned into a podcast that’s available now through iTunes. The intro goes like this. – AC]
The late 90s were a difficult and dark time for rock. If you were around back then, you probably remember how the world was awash in pop music. ‘N Sync. Backstreet Boys. Spice Girls. Britney. Meanwhile, hip hop and rap were huge. Some commentators were saying that hip hop was so popular that it was just a few months away from killing off rock altogether.
At the same time, various forms of keyboard-based electronic music were making a charge. Electronica was all the rage with outfits like The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Crystal Method. Even U2 got into it with their Pop album.
People were saying that rock was dead and that everyone was just waiting for the funeral to start. And you have to admit that rock wasn’t doing much to help its own cause. About the best trend we could muster in the wake of Britpop was Nü-Metal.
Nü-Metal sought to splice the DNA of heavy, aggressive rock onto heavy aggressive hip hop and rap. The results, to say the least, were mixed. Korn was okay, but this meant we also got Limp Bizkit. Kid Rock was cool for a while, but then he seemed to turn into a cartoon. And if there was a single event that buried Nü-Metal, it was the disastrous 1999 Woodstock Festival with all the fires and violence, much of hung on the crowd that went nuts during Limp Bizkit’s set.
It wasn’t long before the backlash set in. Now the worst thing you can call a band is “Nü-Metal.” It was seriously uncool.
There are a few survivors of that era, and most of them are limping through the twilight of their careers. But there’s one band who not only survived but actually got bigger and more successful. And here’s how it happened: the rise and rise of Linkin Park.
Eric Wilhite has put together this playlist for us.