The Right Coast

February 11, 2005
Southern music snobbery rears its ugly head
By Tom Smith

That guy at Instapundit seems to be endorsing (at the end of the post) the sentiment that Linkin Park is a really bad act. I detect here that ugly thing, Southern music snobbery. I am not saying Linkin Park is one of the greats, like Leonard Skinard (sic), but they are authentically LA, a contradiction in terms, yes, but that is part of the point. Their musical range is limited. In fact, they seem to have only about five songs, that they endlessly "remix" or "reanimate." But there is something about their sound that really does capture, at moments anyway, the sort of desperate alienation inside a smooth, melodious groove that is the dark spirit of LA. All their songs seem to be about loss of self; not just the fear of it, but the it's long gone despair of it. The rap braggidocio stuff -- "We're Linkin Park" -- sucks, but that seems to be something rappers do. And though they are corporate now, they came up from the streets in the sense that they became popular locally, and got pushed up by fans, not ordained by some label. No, it ain't "Sweet Home Alabama," but LA is not Alabama. If you think it's sweet, you probably need to get your meds retuned. I am not saying Linkin Park is great or even particularly good as music. What I am saying is that it is emotionally articulate low culture. I offer the following challenge. Watch the good action flick Collateral and listen for when the Linkin Park track comes in at the emotional climax of the movie, when our kidnapped cab driver (Jamie Fox, a very talented non-Scientologist actor) has had enough. I think it works. The city, the violence, the powerlessness, the humiliation, he finally has had enough, and the Linkin Park track is just the thing to express the feeling raw. They're popular for a reason.