Linkin Park's "Numb" Still Hits Hard
It didn't take long for Linkin Park to define their sound. From the opening strains of major-label debut Hybrid Theory, the group was boldly combining hip-hop and metal, from Joe Hahn's turntable scratches and Mike Shinoda's intensive verses to the thrash and crunch of Brad Delson's guitar, Dave "Phoenix" Farrell's bass and Rob Bourdon's drums - and of course, to top it all off, the versatile voice of the late Chester Bennington, who could flip from clean crooning to empowered rage in a heartbeat.
Hybrid Theory had sold more than eight million copies and scored a crossover hit with the No. 2 smash "In the End" by the time the group came back with their next studio album, 2003's Meteora. Coincidentally or fatefully, that album also had its biggest hit in its third single, a killer alternative track that showcased their melodic gifts: "Numb."
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Meteora's closing track was built around a distinctive intro hook, with Bennington taking primary lead vocals delivering a weary but impassioned message of rebelling against people's expectations (with powerful interjections by Shinoda). "I think it was a nice way to end the album because it kind of sums up the record," Shinoda described the song in an interview with Shoutweb. "When you hear it, you can easily recognize it as a Linkin Park song but it obviously belongs on Meteora. It's kind of about those times when you've got no feeling left or you just don't care. It's almost like exhaustion or something which funny enough is how we felt after touring last year."
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Backed with a powerful video directed by Hahn and shot in Prague, "Numb" would sail up the Billboard Hot 100 to land at No. 11, also topping the magazine's mainstream rock chart. Amazingly, a year later the song came back to the Top 20 when it was remixed with Jay-Z's "Encore" as part of Collision Course, a mash-up project between the band and the rapper. The original version still resonates among old-school fans of the group and young listeners feeling the pain of growing up: "Numb" became the band's first video to reach a billion views on YouTube in 2018, and in 2022 it became their second song (after "In the End") to pass a billion listens on Spotify.