Video Breakdown: Linkin Park – One Step Closer
That Linkin Park video in a tunnel featuring flying monks
This was the first glimpse a lot of the world had of Linkin Park, way back in the year 2000. It’s a sewery, monk-filled rage-stravaganza that helped sell 11 million copies of Hybrid Theory and made nu-metal colossal.
Look, it’s some trendy young people hanging out in an alley like trendy young people do. When they see a mysterious stranger, they do what basically nobody would do, and follow him through… a shitty door!
Chester’s flames are probably the most famous tattoos [read: most copied] in music. It’s hard to think of a more iconic one. Lemmy’s ace of spades? Slash’s cartoon self-portrait, maybe? Oli Sykes’ throat-rose? Peter Andre’s sick tribal? Nah man, it’s all Chester. Chester Benn-ink-ton, more like.
It’s Linkin Park, look! In an abandoned subway tunnel! Nodding their heads in completely choreographed unison! Guess the trendy youngsters will, like, hide behind a crate or something and watch.
Hang on, hold the phone, there are flying monks. Monks love nu-metal, everyone knows that. Friar Tuck had a Mushroomhead shirt and a sick chainwallet, it's just that they never show that bit in the films.
It takes a few seconds to sink in, but rhyming 'sense' with 'ignor-ence' is horrible, really. Like, that’s not how that word is said. Hey, here’s a joke: What do Linkin Park wear when it’s raining? A sou’wester Bennington. Do people still wear sou’westers? And do they call them that? It’s like a rain hat, a sou’wester, like a fisherman would wear. So, long story short, what a great joke.
If you were mates with Mike Shinoda, you’d just sing his name to the tune of My Sharona all the time, wouldn’t you? He’d be trying to have a sensible conversation with you, and you’d be singing, “Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Woo! Doo-doo dit da doo-doo... MIKE SHINODA!” and he’d fucking hate it.
It’s hard to work out exactly what it is that Chester and Mike and the boys are so angry about. They’ve got this big nice space to party in, more friendly acrobatic monks than they know what to do with and trousers big enough to feed a family of five for a month. Nonetheless, they’re bloody livid.
It’s like, how many more monks could there be? None. None more monks.
The director of this video was Gregory Dark, who prior to his career in music videos, mainly directed pornography. It's probably not the first time he's filmed people in a disused tunnel. He also made a bunch of those 'erotic thrillers' that video shops used to be rammed with. They were always called things like Body Of Secrets and had a silhouette of a naked lady on the cover, superimposed over the skyline of Toronto. Films like that aren’t really a thing anymore, are they? Fair enough. They were shit.
Sixteen years on, it’s a miracle either of these guys still have hair.
Stupid trendy couple, you’ve knocked a crate over or something. Now the monks are going to be all pissy, and you’ll have to run away, and the band will just sort of carry on. It feels like narrative wise, this isn’t the strongest video ever.
Chester Bennington has been inverted. This is not a drill. Chester Bennington has been inverted. He’s so into breaking rules that gravity doesn’t affect him. Fuck you, rules.
“Shut up when I’m talking to you” is kind of paradoxical, right? Because if you need them to shut up, that means they’re talking, presumably to you, so doesn’t that mean you in turn need to shut up? And then neither of you are talking, which means neither of you need to shut up, so fucking both of you are talking and… where were we?
It’s all over, and everyone’s exhausted. Linkin Park have played this last at all but a few of their gigs, making One Step Closer the closer, which is sort of fun because hey, those two words are spelled the same.
What we learned from One Step Closer
Watching this over a decade and a half later, it’s a pretty clear snapshot of why nu-metal was so divisive. It’s all non-specific anger, slightly self-conscious posturing and, let’s not beat around the bush here, fucking terrible hair. You can absolutely see how people would look at it and go “This is what the kids are into? Jesus, the kids are dumb!”, just as you can see why it made millions. Also we’ve learned it’s possible to have a mainstream entertainment career after being a filth director. But most importantly, we've discovered that if you follow monks through shitty doors, gravity becomes optional.