Linkin Park’s singles can often inspire the question “haven’t they already written this song?” An mp3 that does the rounds from time to time mixes Numb (on the left) and Pushing Me Away (on the right) to illustrate this with almost comical effect: All Linken Park Songs Sound Exactly The Same.

As shown below, and forgive the hyperbole, much more than they sound the same all Linkin Park songs look the same. And while it’s easy to criticize the band for their overuse of a formula that’s by now cliche, the similarity between their tracks at least holds a lesson on the importance of song arrangement in pop music production.

The Linkin Park Formula

The standard Linkin Park structure looks like this:

  1. Quiet intro: Each song has a relatively quiet two-measure intro.
  2. The instrumental kicker: The full band come in together on the down-beat, and play two or four high energy measures, usually instrumental.
  3. Quiet verse: The song eases off for a verse or two, heightening the dynamic contrast between the song’s sections.
  4. Heavy chorus: Usually the same chords established in the kicker, with Chester screaming over top for added emotion.

Here’s how it “looks” in practice. Each image below shows the audio level in (roughly) the first 90 seconds of a Linkin Park song. Note that I adjusted the tempo of a few tracks for better visual alignment: