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It's like a face that I hold inside
A face that awakes when I close my eyes
A face that watches every time I lie
A face that laughs every time I fall
(It watches everything)
So I know now when it's time to sink or swim
That the face inside is hearing me
Right inside my skin

—"Papercut"
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Hybrid Theory is the debut studio album by Linkin Park. Released on October 24, 2000, the album made Linkin Park a success practically overnight. Not only were they favorites on MTV due to presenting a "tough" image, but their mainstream-friendly lyrics took Nu Metal to an area it had never gone before: pop radio.

The album went gold after five weeks, sold over 4.8 million copies in the US alone in 2001 (making it the best-selling album that year), and went Diamond in 2005. Overall Hybrid Theory sold over 30 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling debut album of the 21st century. "Crawling" won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance, and the album was largely credited for making harder rock more accessible to a mainstream audience.

While it's not without detractors (largely due to the Nu Metal premise), it's widely considered to be an album that defines the Turn of the Millennium, especially the early years. The interplay between rapping and singing soon became a staple in mainstream hits, making it effectively a Trope Codifier for this genre. In a case of First Installment Wins, Hybrid Theory is still seen by most fans and critics as Linkin Park's best album.

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Tracklist:

  1. "Papercut"
  2. "One Step Closer"
  3. "With You"
  4. "Points of Authority"
  5. "Crawling"
  6. "Runaway"
  7. "By Myself"
  8. "In the End"
  9. "A Place for My Head"
  10. "Forgotten"
  11. "Cure for the Itch"
  12. "Pushing Me Away"


Principal Members:

  • Chester Bennington - lead vocals
  • Mike Shinoda - lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboard, piano
  • Brad Delson - guitar, bass guitar
  • Mr. Hahn - turntables, sampling, programming
  • Rob Bourdon - drums, percussion


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I tried so hard, and got so far! But in the tropes, it doesn't even matter!

  • Album Filler: "Runaway" was intended to be this, since the band largely viewed it as formulaic and unappealing. However, it became a rare fan-favorite, and the band continues to perform it live to this day.
  • Angst: The album deals with one's personal angst.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The sun and the moon in the beginning of "A Place for My Head" exhibit characteristics of generosity and unreciprocated receiving, respectively:
    I watch how the moon sits in the sky in the dark night
    Shining with the light from the sun
    But the sun doesn't give its light to the moon assuming
    The moon's gonna owe it one
  • Artistic License – Music: The music video for "Papercut" features Brad Delson playing an acoustic guitar, when in reality an acoustic guitar is not used in the song (or at least, not audible).
  • Big "SHUT UP!": "One Step Closer":
    SHUT UP WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!
  • Break Them by Talking: The theme of "One Step Closer".
    Everything you say to me, takes me one step closer to the edge AND I'M ABOUT TO BREAK!
  • Crapsack World: In "Forgotten":
    There's a place so dark you can't see the end
    (Skies cock back) and shocks that which can't defend
    The rain then sends dripping acidic questions
    Forcefully, the power of suggestion
    Then with the eyes shut, looking through the rust and rot and dust
    A small spot of light floods the floor
    And pours over the rusted world of pretend
    Then the eyes ease open and it's dark again
  • Domestic Abuse: The video for "Crawling" appears to feature this, as a man is shown creepily hovering over the female protagonist. It's unclear what their relationship is.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The point of "Crawling".
    There's something inside me that pulls beneath the surface
    Consuming, confusing,
    This lack of self-control I fear is never ending
    Controlling, I can't seem
  • Fake Memories: "Forgotten" mainly deals with whether or not the pain the narrator remembers is real, and how he should go about reconciling them either way.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Invoked to an extent in "By Myself", which is about a person who does so much for the world but sees himself and others cynically:
    Don’t you know
    I can’t tell you how to make it go
    No matter what I do, how hard I try
    I can’t seem to convince myself why
    I’m stuck on the outside
  • Hope Crusher: "Points of Authority" is about a someone who injects their misery into others.
    Forfeit the game, before somebody else takes you out of the frame
    And puts your name to shame
    Cover up your face, you can't run the race, the pace is too fast
    You just won't last
  • Hope Sprouts Eternal: The music video for "In the End" shows a desolate landscape in the beginning, and as the song progresses, various greenery begins to sprout and rain starts to appear. At the end of the song, the camera pans out to show the lush landscape.
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: The female protagonist of "Crawling" wears dark makeup for most of the song. In the end, the makeup washes away, showing both her beauty and her newfound freedom.
  • Instrumentals: "Cure For the Itch", apart from the opening, is an entire solo dedicated to Mr. Hahn's DJ skills.
  • Large Ham: Chester, though Shinoda is a more subdued variant.
  • Leave Me Alone!: "A Place For My Head":
    You try to get the best of me
    GO AWAY!
  • Legend Fades to Myth: "Forgotten" refers to this obliquely, as memories of a distant, more happier time fade away as information becomes corrupted:
    A little piece of paper with a picture drawn
    Floats on down the street till the wind is gone
    And the memory now is like the picture was then
    When the paper's crumpled up it can't be perfect again
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to other Nu Metal acts at the time (Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot etc.), their style was much more mainstream-friendly which got them pop radio airplay that the others didn't.
  • Metal Scream: Chester is quite proficient at this, especially in "Crawling".
  • My Greatest Failure: "In the End" is about recounting one's personal failures:
    I tried so hard, and got so far
    But in the end, it doesn't even matter
    I had to fall, to lose it all
    But in the end, it doesn't even matter
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: This is what happens when you put rock, metal, hip-hop, and some IDM mixed with personal Angst in a blender.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Points of Authority", "Papercut", and "Cure for the Itch".
  • Nu Metal: The best selling nu metal album by far.
  • One-Word Title: "Papercut", "Crawling", "Runaway", "Forgotten".
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: "Cure For The Itch" is Instrumental Hip Hop.
  • The Paranoiac: The narrator of "Papercut". He's always blaming the voice inside of him for his mistakes, he wants to fight against everything that's controlling him, and he feels as though the sun betrays him by refusing to shine his light on him.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Cure for the Itch" is, fittingly enough, a solo dedicated to Mr. Hahn featuring plenty of scratching.
  • Rap Rock/Rap Metal: Whenever Shinoda is involved.
  • Rated M for Manly: As to be expected for a Nu Metal album, though it's considerably more pop-friendly than other examples.
  • The Runaway: The appropriately titled "Runaway" is about someone who wants to run away from everything.
  • Sanctuary of Solitude: The video for "Crawling" features the band in such a sanctuary, and the female protagonist often goes to this for comfort when the outside world caves in on her. In the end, when she is released from her depression, the sanctuary crumbles.
  • Self-Titled Album: Double-subverted. Hybrid Theory wasn't the band's name when it was released, but it was the band's original name.
  • Shout-Out: Whether or not it was intentional, the whale and the stone carvings in the "In the End" music video look a lot like images found in Legend of Zelda.
  • A Song in the Limelight: "Cure for the Itch" is dedicated entirely to Mr. Hahn's DJ scratching, even dropping his name at the beginning.
    Folks, we have a very special guest for you tonight
    I'd like to introduce

    MR. HAHN!
  • Song Style Shift: "By Myself" features subdued rap verses and intense, screaming choruses.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "My December", a song recorded a few months afterwards (though sometimes a bonus track), which gained popularity on the album's Reanimation remix, is much, much Lighter and Softer than the songs on this album. It's hard to believe that it was created during the Hybrid Theory era, since Linkin Park would distribute such songs later in their career.
    • The earlier outtake "She Couldn't" as well, which resembles some of the mellower moments with Chester's previous group Grey Daze as well as later songs such as "Shadow Of The Day".
  • This Is a Song: "In the End":
    (It starts with)
    One thing, I don't know why
    It doesn’t even matter how hard you try
    Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme
    To explain in due time
    (All I know)
  • Vocal Tag Team: Chester and Mike go back and forth, the former mixing his singing with the latter's rapping. Furthermore, while Chester pours his emotion in his vocals, Mike is considerably more subdued. This provides a sort of yin-yang vibe in their vocal styles, as prominently exhibited with "In the End".

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