Hybrid Theory

Hybrid Theory
Hybrid Theory
Studio album by Linkin Park
Released October 24, 2000
Recorded March – June 2000 at NRG Recordings in North Hollywood, California
Genre Nu metal, rap metal, alternative metal
Length 37:52
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Don Gilmore
Linkin Park studio album chronology
Hybrid Theory
Singles from Hybrid Theory
  1. "One Step Closer"
    Released: September 28, 2000
  2. "Crawling"
    Released: March 1, 2001
  3. "Papercut"
    Released: September 25, 2001
  4. "In the End"
    Released: October 9, 2001

Hybrid Theory is the debut album by American rock band Linkin Park, released on October 24, 2000 through Warner Bros. Records. The album was a huge commercial success, having sold over 10 million units in the United States alone as of 2010 and peaking at number two on the Billboard 200 while also reaching high positions on other charts worldwide.

Recorded at NRG Recordings in North Hollywood, California, and produced by Don Gilmore, the album's lyrical themes deal with problems lead vocalist Chester Bennington experienced during his adolescence, including drug abuse and the constant fighting and divorce of his parents. Hybrid Theory takes its title from the previous name of the band.

Four singles were released from the album: "One Step Closer", "Papercut", the Grammy Award-winning "Crawling" and "In the End", the latter which was responsible for launching Linkin Park into mainstream popularity. At the 2002 Grammy Awards, Hybrid Theory was nominated for Best Rock Album. The album is listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. It was ranked #11 on Billboard's Hot 200 Albums of the Decade.[1] A special edition of Hybrid Theory was released March 11, 2002, two years after its original pressing. Hybrid Theory has sold 24 million copies worldwide,[2] which makes it the best selling debut album of the 21st century.[3]



Linkin Park was founded in 1998 when lead vocalist Chester Bennington joined the five members of the hard rock band, Xero: lead guitarist Brad Delson, rhythm guitarist Mike Shinoda, drummer Rob Bourdon, turntablist Joe Hahn, and bassist Dave Farrell (who was not with the band during this point to tour with Tasty Snax). Bennington's previous band, Grey Daze, had recently disbanded, so his lawyer recommended him to Jeff Blue, vice president of A&R coordination for Zomba, who at the time was seeking a lead vocalist for Xero. Blue sent Bennington two tapes of Xero's unreleased recordings — one with vocals by former Xero member Mark Wakefield, and the other with only the instrumental tracks — asking for his "interpretation of the songs".[4] Bennington wrote and recorded new vocals over the instrumentals and sent the tapes back to Blue.[5] As Delson recalls, "[Bennington] really was kind of the final piece of the puzzle [...] We didn't see anything close to his talent in anybody else."[6] After Bennington joined, the group first renamed itself to Hybrid Theory and released a self-titled EP. Legal complications with Welsh electronic music group, Hybrid prompted a second name change, thus deciding on "Linkin Park".[4][7] Throughout 1999, Linkin Park was a regular act at the Los Angeles club, The Whisky.[8]

Writing and recording

The music that would ultimately become the Hybrid Theory album was first produced by Linkin Park in 1999 as a nine-track demo tape. The band sent this tape to various recording companies and played forty-two different showcases for recording industry representatives, including performances for Los Angeles promoter and impresario, Mike Galaxy's showcase at The Gig on melrose.[5][9] However, they were initially turned down by most of the major labels and several independent record labels.[4] The band was signed by Warner Bros. Records in 2000, due in large part to the constant recommendations of Jeff Blue, who had joined the label after resigning from Zomba.[4][5][6]

Despite initial difficulties in finding a producer willing to take charge of the debut album of a newly signed band, Don Gilmore ultimately agreed to head up the project,[5] with Andy Wallace hired as the mixer. Recording sessions, which mostly involved re-recording the songs off the demo tape, began at NRG Recordings in North Hollywood, California in early 2000 and lasted four weeks.[5] Shinoda's rapping sections in most of the songs were significantly altered from the original, while most choruses remained largely unchanged.[10] Due to the absence of Dave Farrell, the band hired Scott Koziol and Ian Hornbeck as stand-in bassists; Delson also played bass throughout most of the album. The Dust Brothers provided additional beats for the track “With You”.

Bennington and Shinoda wrote the lyrics of Hybrid Theory based in part on early demos with Mark Wakefield.[4] Shinoda characterized the lyrics as interpretations of universal feelings, emotions, and experiences, and as “everyday emotions you talk about and think about.”[11][12] Bennington later described the songwriting experience to Rolling Stone magazine in early 2002:

It's easy to fall into that thing — 'poor, poor me', that's where songs like 'Crawling' come from: I can't take myself. But that song is about taking responsibility for your actions. I don't say 'you' at any point. It's about how I'm the reason that I feel this way. There's something inside me that pulls me down.

—Chester Bennington, Rolling Stone Magazine, 2002[4]


The music of Hybrid Theory draws from diverse inspirations. Bennington's singing style is influenced by acts such as Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots,[4] while the riffs and playing techniques of guitarist Brad Delson are modeled after Deftones, Guns N' Roses,[5] U2, and The Smiths.[4] Mike Shinoda's rapping, present in seven tracks, is very close to The Roots' style. The lyrical content of the songs primarily touches upon the problems that Bennington encountered during his childhood, including child abuse, constant and excessive drug and alcohol abuse,[4] the divorce of his parents, isolation,[13] disappointments, and the aftermath feelings of failed relationships.[14]

The album eventually produced four singles. "One Step Closer", the album's second track and first single, was gradually recorded in increments after Linkin Park struggled with "Runaway", and features a guitar riff and electronic percussion in the introduction transitioning into a bridge with distortion-heavy guitars and aggressive drums.[15] It is also infamous for the "Shut up when I'm talkin' to you!" refrain screamed by Bennington one minute and 48 seconds into the song.[15][16] The music video for "One Step Closer" was shot in a Los Angeles subway[17] and became an instant hit, eventually receiving heavy rotation on MTV and other music television networks.[5] Stand-in bassist Scott Koziol is shown performing with the band in the video.[17]

The second single was "Crawling". Lyrically, the song focuses on Bennington's personal experiences with child abuse — the physical violence, the difficulty in breaking the cycle of abuse, and the subsequent loss of self-esteem.[citation needed] This concept is echoed in the music video, in which a girl (Katelyn Rosaasen) is abused by her father and can be seen in the beginning of the video with several visible bruises.[18]

"Papercut" was the album's third single, and its lyrics describe paranoia. The music video for "Papercut" features the band performing in a hallway opposite a completely dark room on the walls of which are scribbled the song's lyrics. Various supernatural themes are present in the video, and special effects are used to create eerie renditions, such as the "stretching" of Shinoda's fingers and the “melting” of Bourdon's face.[19]

The fourth single to come from Hybrid Theory was "In the End", which prominently features a signature piano riff performed by Shinoda. His rapping also dominates the verses of the song and is later joined by Bennington's vocals in the chorus. The song's concept is mainly based on one person's failure. It is considered symbolic of an ending relationship, however, it can also represent broken trust in a once long-lasting friendship. The music video for "In the End" was shot at various stops along the 2001 Ozzfest tour and was directed by Nathan "Karma" Cox and the band's DJ Joe Hahn, who would go on to direct many of Linkin Park's future videos (the two also directed the music video for "Papercut").[20][21] Although the background for the "In the End" video was filmed in a California desert, the band itself performed on a studio stage in Los Angeles, with prominent CGI effects and compositing being used to create the finished version. Performing on a studio stage allowed Hahn and Cox to set off water pipes above the stage near the end and drench the band.[citation needed] The music video won the Best Rock Video award at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards.[22]

"Points of Authority", the fourth track on the album, has its own music video that can be found on Frat Party at the Pankake Festival, the band's first DVD. Drummer Rob Bourdon describes the recording process of the song: “Brad wrote this riff, then went home. Mike decided to cut it up into different pieces and rearranged them on the computer [...] Brad had to learn his own part from the computer.” Regarding the song, Delson praised Shinoda's skill, describing him as “a genius” and “Trent Reznor-talented”.[4] On live performances of the song, when Shinoda raps the line, "Forfeit the game" verse for the third time in the song, Bennington would rap the verse along with Mike.


With Hybrid Theory being Linkin Park's first album, Mike Shinoda, who had worked as a graphic designer before becoming a professional musician, has stated that the band had looked through books for inspiration on how to present themselves for the first time. The result was a winged-soldier which Shinoda illustrated himself. According to Chester Bennington, the idea of the soldier with dragonfly wings was to describe the blending of hard and soft musical elements by the use of the jaded looks of the soldier and frail touches of the wings.[23] The cover also features scrambled lyrics of the album's songs within the background, though the lyrics of "One Step Closer" are the most prominent. A different version of the soldier can be seen on some of the album's singles. The cover of "Reanimation", a remix album of Hybrid Theory, features a robotic version of the soldier, similar to mobile suit Gundam featured in the Gundam Wing anime series which achieved a high popularity in the United States prior to its release.


Hybrid Theory was released in the United States on October 24, 2000 following radio airplay of "One Step Closer".[24] It entered the U.S. Billboard 200 charts at #16 in late 2000,[25] and was certified gold by the RIAA five weeks after its release.[5] In 2001, Hybrid Theory sold 4.8 million copies in the United States, making it the best-selling album of the year,[26][27] and it was estimated that the album continued selling 100,000 copies per week in early 2002.[4] Throughout the following years, the album continued to sell at a fast pace and was certified diamond by the RIAA in 2005 for selling 10 million copies in the US.[28]

Four singles from the album were released throughout 2001 (though "Points of Authority" was released as a promotional single), three of which were chart successes on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks charts.[29] The single "In the End" was the highest charting single from the album, which peaked at #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks charts and appearing on charts worldwide. The success of "In the End" was partly responsible for Hybrid Theory's chart success; it reached #2 in the Billboard 200 in early 2002 behind Weathered by Creed and by J to tha L–O!: The Remixes by Jennifer Lopez. Hybrid Theory was the 11th best performing album on the Billboard 200 during the decade, the album reached the top ten in its 38th week on the chart and stayed in the top ten for 34 weeks. The album spent 105 weeks on the chart (roughly 2 years)and re entered at #167 in February 2011.[30] The album also charted in 11 other countries at fairly high positions and ranked among the top ten in the charts of the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria, Finland, and Switzerland.[31] At the 44th Grammy Awards in 2002, Linkin Park won Best Hard Rock Performance for their song "Crawling". Additional nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rock Album lost out to Alicia Keys and All That You Can't Leave Behind by U2.[32]

Following the success of Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park received invitations to perform at various rock concerts and tours, including Ozzfest, the Family Values Tour, KROQ-FM's Almost Acoustic Christmas, and the band's self-created tour, Projekt Revolution, which was headlined by Linkin Park and featured other bands such as Cypress Hill and Adema.[4][6] During this time, Linkin Park reunited with their original bassist, Dave “Phoenix” Farrell.[4] The band kept an online journal on their official website throughout their 2001 and 2002 touring regime, in which each band member made a respective notation. Although the notes are no longer on their website, they are available on fansites.[33] Linkin Park played 324 shows in 2001.[4]

Special editions

A two-disc special edition of Hybrid Theory was released on March 11, 2002 in Asia.[34] The first disc contains the original album, and the second disc features live performances of “Papercut”, “Points of Authority”, and “A Place for My Head” recorded at the Docklands Arena for BBC Radio 1. Also featured on the second disc is an enhanced video for "One Step Closer" and two studio tracks: “My December” — a song written after the release of Hybrid Theory for inclusion on KROQ's "Slim Santa" CD, and “High Voltage”, a remix of the song originally on the Hybrid Theory EP.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
PopMatters (favorable)[16]
Melody Maker 4/5 stars[35]
NME (6/10)[36]
Stylus Magazine (mixed)[37]
Allmusic 3/5 stars[24]
Q 4/5 stars[38]
Sputnikmusic (3/5)[39]
Robert Christgau (2 star Honorable Mention)(2 star Honorable Mention)[40]
Jam! (favorable)[41]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[42]

Hybrid Theory generally received positive reviews from critics upon release. Stephanie Dickison of PopMatters commented that the band was a "far more complex and talented group than the hard rock boy bands of late", and claimed that "they will continue to fascinate and challenge music's standard sounds."[16] Q magazine gave Hybrid Theory four out of five stars.[38] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice wrote that “the men don't know what the angry boys understand”, and gave the album a "two-star honorable mention rating", citing "Papercut" and "Points of Authority" as highlights of the album.[40] Jenny Eliscu of Rolling Stone commented that Hybrid Theory had "as much potency as albums by Limp Bizkit or Korn" and called it an album that "reflects the frustration of life".[43]

Other critics, however, were more critical with the album. Rolling Stone's review of the album was rated two and a half stars.[43] Allmusic writer William Ruhlmann said that "Linkin Park sounds like a Johnny-come-lately to an already overdone musical style" and called "One Step Closer" "a typical effort", referring to the lyrics of the song's chorus.[24] NME's Noel Gardner commented that "otherwise damn fine soaring emo-crunchers like 'With You' and 'A Place for My Head' are pointlessly jazzed up with tokenistic scratching," giving the album a score of six out of ten.[44]

Later in 2002, Linkin Park released an album entitled Reanimation. It included the songs of Hybrid Theory remixed and reinterpreted by fellow nu metal artists and several underground hip hop artists.[45] Contributors to the album included Jonathan Davis, Stephen Carpenter, Aaron Lewis, and Black Thought. The sound of later Linkin Park albums would involve experimentation with classical instruments such as strings and piano, both of which, along with the same elements of electronica from Hybrid Theory, are prominently included in the band's second studio album, Meteora.[46] As Shinoda explains the difference in the sound between Hybrid Theory and Meteora: "That electronic element has always been there in the band – it's just that sometimes we bring it closer to the front."[47]


Hybrid Theory found itself in several "must have" lists that were compiled by various music publications, networks, and other media. Some of the more prominent of these lists to feature Hybrid Theory are shown below:[48]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Village Voice United States Pazz & Jop[49] 2001 159
Classic Rock United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All-Time[50] 2005 72
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States The Definitive 200[51] 2007 84
Esli Jacinth United States 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[52] 2006 *
Record Collector United Kingdom Best of 2001[53] 2001 *
Rock Sound France Les 150 Albums De La Génération (The top 150 Albums of the Generation)[54] 2006 58

* denotes an unordered list

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Papercut"   Linkin Park 3:05
2. "One Step Closer"   Linkin Park 2:36
3. "With You"   Linkin Park, M. Simpson, J. King 3:23
4. "Points of Authority"   Linkin Park 3:20
5. "Crawling"   Linkin Park 3:29
6. "Runaway"   Linkin Park, Wakefield 3:04
7. "By Myself"   Linkin Park 3:10
8. "In the End"   Linkin Park 3:36
9. "A Place for My Head"   Linkin Park, Wakefield, Farrell 3:09
10. "Forgotten"   Linkin Park, Wakefield, Farrell 3:14
11. "Cure for the Itch"   Linkin Park 2:34
12. "Pushing Me Away"   Linkin Park 3:11
Total length:


All information is excerpted from the album's stated information.[55]
Linkin Park
Additional musicians
  • Additional beats on "With You" by The Dust Brothers
  • Ian Hornbeck – bass on "Papercut", "A Place for My Head", and "Forgotten"
  • Scott Koziol – bass on "One Step Closer"
  • Produced and engineered by Don Gilmore
  • Executive producer: Jeff Blue
  • Engineering by Steve Sisco
  • Assistant engineer: Matt Griffin
  • Mixed by Andy Wallace
  • Additional engineering and Pro Tools by John Ewing, Jr.
  • Assistant Pro Tools by Mike Shinoda
  • Mastered by Brian "Big Bass" Gardner at Bernie Grundman Mastering
  • Digital editing: Brian "Big Bass" Gardner
  • A&R: Jeff Blue
  • A&R coordination: Natalie Preston & Ariana Murray
  • Marketing director: Peter Standish
  • Worldwide representation: Rob McDermott for The Firm with Additional Servitude by Ryan Demarti & Ryan Saullo
  • Booking agent: Michael Arfin for Artist Group
  • Legal: Dann Hayes for Selverne, Mandelbaum and Mintz
  • Business managers: Michael Oppenheim & Jonathan Schwartz for Gudvi, Chapnik & Oppenheim
  • Art direction and design: Flem aka Frank Maddocks
  • Photography by James Minchin III
  • Line art sketches and drawings by Mike Shinoda and Joseph Hahn

Charts and certifications


Chart (2001/2002) Peak
Australian ARIA Albums Chart 2[56]
Austrian Albums Chart 2[57]
Belgian Flemish Albums Chart 3[58]
Belgian Walloon Albums Chart 13[59]
Canadian Albums Chart 5[60]
Danish Albums Chart 4[61]
Dutch Albums Chart 13[62]
French SNEP Albums Chart 17[63]
Finnish Albums Chart 4[64]
German Albums Chart 2[65]
Italian Albums Chart 2[66]
New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart 1[67]
Norwegian Albums Chart 5[68]
Swedish Albums Chart 4[69]
Swiss Albums Chart 5[70]
UK Albums Chart 4[71]
U.S. Billboard 200 2[60]


Country Providers Certification
Argentina CAPIF Platinum[72]
Australia ARIA 4× Platinum[73]
Austria IFPI Platinum[74]
Belgium IFPI Platinum[75]
Brazil ABPD Platinum[76]
Canada CRIA 5× Platinum[77]
Denmark IFPI Platinum[78]
Europe IFPI 4× Platinum[79]
Finland IFPI Platinum[80]
France SNEP 3× Platinum[81]
Germany BVMI 5× Gold[82]
Mexico AMPF Platinum[83]
Netherlands IFPI Platinum[84]
New Zealand RIANZ 5× Platinum[85]
Poland ZPAV Platinum[86]
Sweden IFPI Platinum[87]
Switzerland IFPI Platinum[88]
United Kingdom BPI 4× Platinum[89]
United States RIAA 10× Platinum[90]


Year Song Peak positions
US Mod.
US Main.
2000 "One Step Closer" 75 5 4 24 46 38 57
2001 "Crawling" 79 4 3 16 27 37 8 45
"Papercut" 32 14 43 39
"In the End" 2 1 3 8 3 10 6 40 5
  • An en-dash (–) denotes countries in which the singles were not released or did not chart.


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