Hybrid Theory is the debut album by the American rock band Linkin Park, released on October 24, 2000 through Warner Bros. Records. The album was a huge commercial success, selling over 10 million units in the United States alone and peaking at number two on the Billboard 200 while also reaching high positions on other charts worldwide, despite receiving mixed reviews from publications. It has also sold 24 million copies worldwide as of 2009, including over 10 million in the U.S. which makes it the band's best-selling album, the second best-selling album of the 21st century so far, and the second best selling debut album. It is also one of the few albums to be certified Diamond in the U.S. that was released in this century.
Recorded at NRG Recordings in North Hollywood, California, and produced by Don Gilmore, the album's lyrical themes deal with problems lead vocalist Chester Bennington experienced during his adolescence, including drug abuse and the constant fighting and divorce of his parents. Hybrid Theory takes its title from the previous name of the band.
Four singles were released from the album: "One Step Closer", "Papercut", "In the End", and the Grammy Award-winning "Crawling", which along with "In the End" was responsible for launching Linkin Park into mainstream popularity. At the 2002 Grammy Awards, Hybrid Theory was nominated for Best Rock Album.
Hybrid Theory was released in the United States on October 24, 2000 following the debut of "One Step Closer" on the radio. It entered the U.S. Billboard 200 charts at #16 in late 2000, and was certified gold by the RIAA five weeks after its release. In 2001, Hybrid Theory sold 4.8 million copies in the United States, making it the best-selling album of the year, and it was estimated that the album continued selling 100,000 copies per week in early 2002. Throughout the following years, the album continued to sell at a fast pace and was certified diamond by the RIAA in 2005 for selling 10 million copies in the U.S. In 2007, it has sold over 10 million copies in the U.S. alone. It has also sold 24 million copies worldwide as of 2009, including over 10 million in the U.S. which makes it the band's best-selling album and the best-selling debut album of the 21st century.
Critical opinion for Hybrid Theory was mixed. Some critics gave the album positive reviews; Stephanie Dickison of PopMatters commented that the band was a "far more complex and talented group than the hard rock boy bands of late", and claimed that "they will continue to fascinate and challenge music's standard sounds." Q magazine gave Hybrid Theory four out of five stars. Robert Christgau of The Village Voice wrote that “the men don't know what the angry boys understand”, and gave the album a "two-star honorable mention rating", citing "Papercut" and "Points of Authority" as highlights of the album. Jenny Eliscu of Rolling Stone commented that Hybrid Theory had "as much potency as albums by Limp Bizkit or Korn" and called it an album that "reflects the frustration of life".
Other critics, however, dismissed the album. Allmusic writer William Ruhlmann said that "Linkin Park sounds like a Johnny-come-lately to an already overdone musical style" and called "One Step Closer" "a typical effort", referring to the lyrics of the song's chorus. NME's Noel Gardner commented that "otherwise damn fine soaring emo-crunchers like 'With You' and 'A Place for My Head' are pointlessly jazzed up with tokenistic scratching," giving the album a score of six out of ten.
Despite initially mixed reviews, Hybrid Theory found itself in several “must have” lists that were compiled by various music publications, networks, and other media. Some of the more prominent of these lists to feature Hybrid Theory are shown below:
Publication Accolade Rank
The Village Voice Pazz & Jop 159
Classic Rock The 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All-Time 72
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Definitive 200 64
Esli Jacinth 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die*
Record Collector Best of 2001*
Rock Sound Les 150 Albums De La Génération (Top 150 Albums of Our Lifetime)58