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Track Review

Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington has talked about his struggles with anxiety and depression throughout the band's career.

And with the band's first single from its forthcoming seventh album, mental health is thematically front and center.

Heavy Themes, Not Sounds

Linkin Park sports a back catalog full of bombastic, aggressive, guitar-based rock. Ironically, "Heavy" is a rather mellow offering, one in which Bennington and Co. are joined by 21-year-old Illinois singer Kiiara. Guitars may be mostly absent here, but the song is still long on the kind of angst that has marked many a Linkin Park tune over the last 17 years.

Bennington sets the stage with the song's very first line: "I don't like my mind right now," he tells us. The singer recognizes that he's fixating unhealthily on unnamed issues ("Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary/Wish that I could slow things down"). At the same time, he realizes to he's used to holding his anxieties close. Paradoxically, their near presence provides a kind of calm ("I wanna let go, but there's comfort in the panic").

Bennington also exhibits self-awareness as he talks about the result of his mental struggles: "And I drive myself crazy/Thinking everything's about me/Yeah, I drive myself crazy/'Cause I can't escape the gravity."

The Promise and Peril of Relinquishment

Bennington recognizes that he needs to release his grip on the struggles that he knows pull him down. "I keep dragging around what's bringing me down," he confesses. "If I just let go, I'd be set free."

And yet …

Despite the fact that such relinquishment would lighten his load, Bennington (and Kiiara, who sings these words from the chorus as well) still wrestles mightily with the idea of letting go ("I'm holding on/Why is everything so heavy?") even though the burdens he hauls in his emotional backpack are crushing him ("So much more than I can carry").

Kiiara fleshes out these themes further on her lone solo verse. And she does so vulgarly, injecting an unwanted burst of profanity into a song that already feels pretty weighty as it is ("It's not like I make the choice/To let my mind stay so f---ing heavy"). With that line, Kiiara reiterates and reinforces the song's suggestions elsewhere that letting go of our anxiety and fear—even if we know that would be a good thing—is nevertheless hard to do.

Baby Steps Toward Mental Health?

A few lyrics later in the song hint at how these issues are affecting other people. "I know I'm not the center of the universe," both Bennington and Kiiara sing. "But you keep spinning 'round me just the same." In other words, even if we want to change our relational patterns and recognize that we need to, actually doing so can prove pretty difficult.

All in all, that might seem a pretty pessimistic assessment of things. But in the context of the anger and alienation vented on many of the band's earlier albums and songs, I'm going to argue that the glass may actually be half full here. It's true, Bennington and Kiiara still aren't sure what to do with all this mental baggage they keep hauling around. (And there's that f-word, too.) But there's at least a recognition that schlepping their burdens everywhere ultimately isn't helping them at all, that letting go of them would be the good and wise thing.

They may not be able to unclench their grip on these things just yet. (And it could be argued that none of us can truly relinquish our burdens and experience the freedom this song yearns for without God's help.) But the fact that Linkin Park and Kiiara long to do so still seems like a baby step in the right direction.

Positive Elements

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Reached No. 3 on Billboard's rock singles chart.

Record Label

Warner Bros.




February 16, 2017

On Video

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

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