When Chester Bennington took his own life last year, the world lost one of rock's most beloved voices, one that could encompass Linkin Park's genre-busting alt-everything, Stone Temple Pilot's slithering grunge and any number of diverse covers of artists ranging from Pantera to Leonard Cohen. We asked you to pick his single greatest vocal performance, and you hit social media with nominations from across his career. Below are the ranked top 5 results.
Linkin Park were never much ones for covers, but on the rare occasions the band did play a song by another artist, Bennington always, always hit it out of the park. Case in point, the band's supple, surging reinterpretation of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," performed at the Apple Music Festival on July 4th, 2011. Bennington was more than up to task, swapping keys like a maestro and spilling his soul like a preacher.
Originally conceived as a standalone instrumental, Meteora's electronica-inflected "Breaking the Habit" marked the first Linkin Park single sung entirely by Bennington, devoid of Mike Shinoda's signature raps. A Herculean feat, it finds him conquering the specters of addiction, self-harm and depression head-on — more or less by his lonesome, natch — and coming out victorious, if irrevocably shaken.
Abetted by a stirring remix collaboration with acclaimed rapper Jay-Z and one of Bennington's most heart-rending performances to date, the smash closer from 2003's Meteora earned Linkin Park yet another well-deserved seat atop the Aughts-rock pantheon. To call the frontman's vocals pained would be an understatement; every last note is drenched in anguish, making the cathartic climax that much more satisfying.
Hybrid Theory's "Crawling" embodies a lot of what made people fall for Linkin Park. Its verses show Chester Bennington's singing voice to be truly beautiful and lilting, while his screams in the chorus are filled with full-bodied energy and genuine aggression, creating a dynamic many would come to imitate over the next decade but no one would fully replicate.
After the release of Minutes to Midnight, word spread quickly about Chester Bennington's massive, mid-song scream on the album's opening cut. The way many fans described it made it sound like an exaggeration, but it was true: Bennington delivers a vein-bulging shriek in the middle of "Given Up" that lasts a whopping 18 seconds long. Even more incredibly, he could pull off the scream live at various shows, as well — which seems like it would have made him eligible for a gold medal for extreme vocals, if only there was such a thing.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of resources.