Linkin Park inspiration: a collection of Chester Bennington’s favourite songs

Throughout their career, Linkin Park were never tied to one specific genre. It was pretty easy to call them a rock band at the end of the day, but not many nu-metal acts that they shared stages with were able to write the kind of fantastic pop hooks and fluctuate between singing and rapping that seamlessly. Their strength usually came from Chester Bennington, and his taste in music is a reflection of the hodge-podge of influences that went into making every Linkin Park song.

If you look at what Bennington was raised on, it is much closer to the melodic side of rock and roll. Listening back to the demos he made with his original band Grey Daze, his vocal style tends to fit more in line with the kind of post-grunge outfits that are worth listening to, including more than a few Stone Temple Pilots-style moments.

Bennington always thought highly of the post-grunge superstars, even putting ‘Big Empty’ as one of his personal favourites. No grunge fan can get by without a handful of sad songs in his collection, and Bennington was broken up every time he listened to Radiohead, with ‘Faust Arp’ being one of the saddest works he had ever heard.

Radiohead would also come into play later when the band were working on albums like A Thousand Suns. After bringing together different influences from rock and hip-hop on their first records, Bennington would cite albums like OK Computer as his core motivation when making their conceptual work.

No artist is going to get people bouncing just by making sad music, and Bennington had far more range than just rock and roll. Growing up, Bennington remembered the house being flooded with tracks by The Jackson 5, telling Shortlist, “‘ABC’, that song was the one I’ll associate them with. To grow up with those cartoons and then see Michael Jackson flourish as a star in his own right was pretty cool. So yeah, this one all the way.”

When joining Linkin Park, all of the band’s heaviness was also given a firm hip-hop bent, which got Bennington listening to everything he could get his hands on. He still may have loved his metal favourite, but the frontman also had a love for the kind of beats 50 Cent was putting together on songs like ‘In Da Club’. Suddenly, a forceful hip-hop chorus meant just as much as a crunchy guitar riff.

For all of the great music that influenced him, Bennington let all of them out whenever he channelled his pain into Linkin Park. Whenever he sang on like ‘Papercut’ or ‘Breaking the Habit’, Bennington sounded like he had pinpointed the mathematical centre between pop, rock, metal, and hip-hop and made each of them work without having to sacrifice any integrity.

Even though it might have been considered a little bit slick by the purist metalheads of the world, it was still impossible to resist whenever it came on the radio, turning them into the one metal band that even moms could approve of. Bennington may have had a lot of different influences to cram into every Linkin Park piece, but by quoting his own heart when he sang, he helped fans of any style of music get in touch with their own internal problems.

Chester Bennington’s favourite songs:
‘Faust Arp’ – Radiohead
‘Big Empty’ – Stone Temple Pilots
‘In Da Club’ – 50 Cent
‘Give Me Your Name’ – Dead By Sunrise
‘Limo Wreck’ – Soundgarden
‘ABC’ – Jackson 5
‘You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You’ – Dean Martin
‘Reflektor’ – Arcade Fire
‘Breaking the Habit’ – Linkin Park

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