In July 1945 in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico, history was made as “Trinity” became the world’s first artificial nuclear explosion. Witnessing the infamous event, J. Robert Oppenheimer recalled a verse from the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one…”
These words form the foundation for Linkin Park’s new record, “A Thousand Suns,” a call for recognition, restraint and redemption. From a branding, marketing and entertainment standpoint, “Suns” is noteworthy on several fronts.
First, it is a rare concept record in the truest sense of the word with a consistent theme continually underscored in lyrics and spoken word, including an eerie, actual recitation by Oppenheimer of another Hindu verse: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” We later hear Martin Luther King and others. In addition to the dearth of themed LPs in today’s music world, the record’s sound certainly quite often plays against Linkin Park type.
However, it all works wonderfully. While Branding 101 might dictate that straying from what you are known for can be damaging in terms of confusing/alienating fans/customers, there is something to be said about taking a fresh, new, artistic approach that still remains true to a core essence.
From a marketing standpoint, what better way to stand out and command attention in a current environment where downloading individual songs is the norm; inviting the exploration of an entire body of work? Pink Floyd would be proud.