At 12:01 a.m. on Thursday (August 26), [artist id="960856"]Linkin Park[/artist] premiered their brand-new video for “The Catalyst,” the first single off their upcoming A Thousand Suns album. It’s a dark, moody, abstract affair , full of swirling smoke, charred earth and rising tides, and, judging from the comments we got on MTVNews.com, Linkin Park fans totally love it. So that got us thinking: Is it good enough to rank among their all-time best videos?
Even though “The Catalyst” is barely 13 hours old at this point, it’s clear the clip takes the band to places they’ve never gone before. But the short answer is … no, not just yet. Sure, the video would probably land in the LP top 10, but we’re talking about the best of the best here. So while it’s undoubtedly good, it’s not quite good enough to crack the band’s top five. But give it some time. We’re sure its impact will be measured in weeks and months, not hours. That’s how Linkin Park videos tend to go. At least, judging by the ones we’ve selected as their five best:
#5: “Somewhere I Belong”
The greatest Linkin Park videos also tend to be the biggest, and while “Somewhere I Belong” is definitely massive — the burning bed, the creeping, long-legged mammoths, the mech-like archway the band performs beneath — it’s the minimal touches that make it one of their all-time best. Joseph Hahn deftly uses macro focus to take us deep inside Chester Bennington’s subconscious, and from there, he fills the void with items taken from his bedroom: the Dalí-esque painting on the wall, the Gundam figures on the dresser, etc. The end result is a stirring, powerful piece — one that matches the punch of the song — proof that sometimes the smallest things also pack the biggest wallop.
Sort of a left-field choice (it’s by no means one of their best-known clips), “Faint” is little more than a live clip … and while Linkin Park have made more than their fair share of those, none can match the live-wire energy and emotional outpouring on display here. In a genius move, director Mark Romanek puts his cameras behind the band, which not only gives the viewer a new perspective on LP’s stage show, but somehow makes the explosion of angst and aggression all the more palpable. The closest thing we can find to capturing the band’s thunderous live performances.
A video that tackles heady themes (abuse, suicide, judgment and despair, to name just a few), “Crawling” goes deep — into the mind, behind the mirror, into a rapidly crumbling world — and somehow manages to come out the other side. It never feels heavy-handed, rather, the Brothers Strause were smart enough to harness the cathartic power of the song’s chorus, and set the main character’s road to redemption against it. Powerful stuff, with a happy ending.
#2: “Breaking the Habit”
Animated by the legendary Kazuto Nakazawa, “Breaking the Habit” is based around a simple story: the suicide of an unknown man in some foreboding future city. But as things progress, the story becomes increasingly complex … a ghost haunts the skyscrapers, a girl slowly bleeds, a man struggles with his demons. And at clip’s end, we learn that it was Bennington who leapt to his death. All the while, you’re marveling at the unraveling narrative — and the dazzling animation too. Dramatic, doomy, filled with dread: It’s the kind of thing that most bands only aspire to make. Linkin Park pull it off with style to spare.
#1: “What I’ve Done”
The biggest, baddest and best Linkin Park video of all time, “What I’ve Done” is full of wide-screen visuals (the band performs in a barren desert, surrounded by walls of speakers and lighting rigs, mountains peaking on the horizon), but it’s hardly a summer blockbuster. Rather, Hahn was smart — or brave — enough to inject a message here: the destructive power of man versus the unyielding beauty of nature, and where it all will undoubtedly end (hint: we lose).
It also marks Linkin Park’s first time wading into political waters, as Hahn filled the video with images of the collapsing Twin Towers, a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans and oil-soaked wildlife. A shot of a starved African man is intercut with an engorged American eating a cheeseburger. An atomic bomb is detonated, followed by time-lapse footage of blades of grass peaking through the soil. “We are living in the end times,” the band seems to be saying. “Repent while you still can.” Not exactly the most uplifting of messages, but certainly the most vital.
What’s your favorite Linkin Park video of all time? Does “The Catalyst” rank in your top five? Tell us in the comments!