The Catalyst

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"The Catalyst"
Single by Linkin Park
from the album A Thousand Suns
Recorded 2008-2010
Released August 2, 2010
Format CD
Length 05:42
Stems The Catalyst, feat. You
Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock (A Thousand Suns)
Neko Keyboard Sounds and Samples[1]
Open Labs SoundSlate Pro
Time signature 4/4
Tempo 135
Key D Minor
Live debut September 07, 2010
Last played October 27, 2017
Writer(s) Linkin Park
Producer(s) Mike Shinoda, Rick Rubin
Label Warner Bros.
Linkin Park singles chronology

Not Alone (2010) The Catalyst (2010) Waiting For The End (2010)

A Thousand Suns track listing
  1. The Requiem
  2. The Radiance
  3. Burning In The Skies
  4. Empty Spaces
  5. When They Come For Me
  6. Robot Boy
  7. Jornada Del Muerto
  8. Waiting For The End
  9. Blackout
  10. Wretches And Kings
  11. Wisdom, Justice, And Love
  12. Iridescent
  13. Fallout
  14. The Catalyst
  15. The Messenger

"The Catalyst" is the fourteenth track on A Thousand Suns as well as its lead single. It starts with string-like synths with Mike singing before an off-beat drum beat kicks in. The song builds slowly until its electronic breakdown, after which comes a piano part that builds into an epic climax with resonating drums and guitar. The song was announced in July 2010, a few weeks before the track came out, with Mike releasing the artwork for it ahead of the song.[2] The song debuted on August 2, 2010, becoming the first song in history to debut at number one on the US Billboard Rock Chart, as well as reaching number on on the US Rock Charts and becoming the Most Added song to US Alternative, Active Rock, and Mainstream Rock radio. The trailer for 'Medal Of Honor' which premiered with the song on the same day also became the number one most watched video on YouTube worldwide.[3]


While narrowing down tracks for the album, the band knew "The Catalyst" would be an important song, even while they were working on it. The lyrics of the song that contained "a thousand suns" inspired the imagery that captured the album's essence, thereby becoming the album's title. "The Catalyst" serves as a representation of the 3D experience the band wanted to have the album emulate, raising questions when listening to the song coming back on the album, having the conversation continue throughout it. The band knew the song would be the lead single for awhile, as it represents the journey of the album to them.[4] Chester has stated that they nailed the lyrics in the song, and working on it helped put the band in the headspace they needed to be in for the rest of the album's recording.[5]

The band chose "The Catalyst" as a lead single for A Thousand Suns because the felt it represented a change in the band's sound the best. Mike elaborated, saying "it wasn’t like this is an indicator of how the whole album sounds, it was just an indicator of the change that was happening." He felt that the chorus wasn't actually the most catchy part of the song, and rather the first verse and the last part were, as well as the turntable solo. The song was written by a process known as automatic writing, as suggested by Rick Rubin (this process was also used prominently in "Blackout"). Describing how the song began piecing together, Mike explained, "I was just playing the organ sound that happens in the intro and I started singing the words that basically were the foundation of what ended up being the final vocal; maybe 50 to 75 percent the same." Mike attributed the track's six minute length to the nostalgia of listening to a record from start to finish, using the excitement of putting a needle on a vinyl back in the day as a comparison to today's practice of listening to music in parts rather than as a whole.[6]


A remix contest was held at the beginning of July 2010 in association with MySpace, where fans could submit a remix with selected parts of "The Catalyst" (since the full song was not yet released). The winner would be able to meet with the band in the studio to work on the new record.[7] Mike Shinoda stated, "Our albums are the foundation of who we are as a band, and reserving a spot for a fan to play on one of our songs felt like a way to show our dedication to them. There are a lot of unknowns about what might get submitted for this contest, but that's what makes it fun. Our fans continually energize us with their creativity and dedication, so I think they're going to come up with something great."[8]

The winner was Czesław Sakowski (also known as NoBraiN), an English teacher from Swidnica, Poland who's remix got him into the studio with the band, ending up with him working on "When They Come For Me" and "Jornada Del Muerto", though only his contributions to "When They Come For Me" made it onto the record.[9] His remix was also included in the HMV and BestBuy editions of A Thousand Suns and was released as a digital single. He was invited to the band's show in Berlin, Germany on the 2010 European Tour, the first stop of the tour, where he met the band and had his remix played before the band went onstage.

Other remixes from the contest were subsequently released by the band. Remixes by DJ Endorphin and Cale Pellick appeared on "The Catalyst" EP,[10] the entries by DIGITALOMAT and ill Audio were featured on Linkin Park's official site in 2010,[11] and Keaton Hashimoto's remix was featured on the Download To Donate For Haiti 2.0 compilation in January 2011.[12]

Other remixes include the Does It Offend You, Yeah? remix that appeared on the "Waiting For The End" single and "The Catalyst" EP. A remix of that remix was then used on a Linkin Park DLC for DJ Hero 2. A remix by King Fantastic also appears on "The Catalyst" EP.


CD Single

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1 The Catalyst Linkin Park 5:44
2 New Divide (Live) 4:55

European Promo CD

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1 The Catalyst (Radio Edit) Linkin Park 4:44
2 The Catalyst (Album Version) 5:43

The Catalyst feat. NoBraiN Digital Single

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1 The Catalyst (feat. NoBraiN) Linkin Park 4:22

Digital EP

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1 The Catalyst Linkin Park 5:39
2 The Catalyst ("Bobby Bloomfield" DIOYY? Remix) 3:06
3 The Catalyst (King Fantastic Remix) 4:04
4 The Catalyst (feat. DJ Endorphin) 5:00
5 The Catalyst (feat. Cale Pellick) 3:31

Music Video

Medal Of Honor Trailer

A music video featuring a shortened version of "The Catalyst" was directed by Joe Hahn to promote the EA videogame Medal Of Honor.[13] The video, a mix of live and in-game footage of intense modern military action, debuted exclusively on the Medal Of Honor website on August 1st, 2010, one day before the song's radio premiere.[14]

Regarding the band's relationship with the company, Phoenix said, "We were talking with EA a while back about doing some sort of partnership and we had gotten to know them pretty well. I had played Medal of Honor for quite a long time and I think the first version of it I played was maybe 10 years ago. We started kicking around the idea of doing some music with some different titles and Medal of Honor came up, and for us it was a really easy fit. We kind of grew up playing games, starting with the NES and moving through different consoles. We’re well aware a lot of our fans are gamers. It’s just a really natural and easy way for us to continue to keep in contact with our fans and for them to keep in contact with us."[15]

Music Video

The music video for "The Catalyst" was released on midnight on August 25, 2010 via and before premiering everywhere else at 8 PM EST/PST. It was directed by Joe Hahn, and features him trying something different from his usual productions, being a more abstract video than his previous works.[16] Of its many scenes, it features Mike sitting in car with a hood over his head, Chester screaming and seemingly drowning as water rises, and is set in a very foggy setting. Shinoda explained the concept of the video, saying "it kind of comes from the idea of if you could imagine when nuclear fission was invented, or a moment in time when something can be used for positive or negative." He continued, “something can be beautiful or it can be destructive. Or even, you know, if you’ve ever seen a dangerous fire from far away, it’s devastating up close, but from far away, it can be beautiful. Those are the kind of themes that run throughout the album, and they’re also themes that you see in the video."

The video was filmed in June 2010, while the band was still figuring out what the title of the album would be.[17]


Note: Only the date of the very first release of each version is listed.


Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
The Catalyst A Thousand Suns 5:40 November 2008–August 2010 September 8, 2010
The Catalyst The Catalyst 5:44 November 2008–August 2010 August 2, 2010
  • Lacks the transition from "Fallout".
The Catalyst The Catalyst (FR Medal Of Honor MiniDVD) 3:39 2010 2010
  • Shortened version used on the Medal Of Honor trailer.
The Catalyst (Radio Edit) The Catalyst (UK Radio CD)

The Catalyst (FR Radio CD)

4:42 2010 August 2010
  • Lacks the transition from "Fallout".
  • Shortened intro.
  • Shortened bridge.
  • No additional outro.
The Catalyst (Radio Version With Intro/Outro Interview) The Catalyst (Radio CD) 7:29 2010 2010
  • Radio edit.
  • Features Mike and Chester talking before and after the song.
The Catalyst Medal Of Honor 5:46 2010 October 12, 2010
  • Different mix.
  • Different intro.
  • Less effects applied to vocals.
  • Mr. Hahn's second set of scratching are different.
  • More backing vocals in the song's climax.
  • More reverb on Mike's vocals as the song fades out.
  • There was no official soundtrack release for the game.
The Catalyst (2010 Demo) LP Underground Sixteen 5:43 2010 November 21, 2016
  • Different mix.
  • Different effects.
  • Different vocal take.
  • Louder vocals.
  • Louder piano.
  • Louder synth.
  • Different lyrics.
Symphonies Of Light Reprise (2010 Demo) LP Underground Sixteen 1:16 2010 November 21, 2016
  • Acoustic reprise of "The Catalyst".
The Catalyst A Thousand Suns Instrumentals 5:42 2008-2010
  • The CD dates from September 15, 2010.
  • Official instrumental version.


Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
The Catalyst, featuring NoBraiN A Thousand Suns

The Catalyst (feat. NoBraiN)

4:22 2010 September 8, 2010
  • Remix by Czesław Sakowski.
  • Winner of the "Linkin Park Featuring You" contest on MySpace.
  • MP3 and WAV included as enhanced content on the HMV and BestBuy editions of A Thousand Suns. Despite the menu having download buttons, all they do is open the folder where the files are located in the CD.
The Catalyst" ("Bobby Bloomfield" DIOYY? Remix) The Catalyst EP

Waiting For The End

3:06 2010 August 27, 2010
  • Remix by Rob Bloomfield of Does It Offend You, Yeah?.
  • Listed on "Waiting For The End" single as "The Catalyst ("Guitarmagedon" DIOYY? Remix)".
The Catalyst (Does It Offend You, Yeah? Remix) (Remix by FSG) DJ Hero 2: Linkin Park Mix Pack (DLC) 3:07 2010 December 21, 2010
  • Remix by Patrick Walker and Al Matthews.
  • There was no official soundtrack release for the game.
The Catalyst (King Fantastic Remix) The Catalyst EP 4:04 2010 August 27, 2010
  • Remix by Troublemaker.
  • Features vocals by Killer Reese One.
The Catalyst (feat. DJ Endorphin) The Catalyst EP 5:00 2010 August 27, 2010
  • Remix by DJ EnDorphin.
  • From the "Linkin Park Featuring You" contest.
The Catalyst (feat. Cale Pellick) The Catalyst EP 3:31 2010 August 27, 2010
  • Remix by Cale Pellick.
  • From the "Linkin Park Featuring You" contest.
The Catalyst featuring DIGITALOMAT 3:42 2010 September 2010
  • Remix by Digitalo.
  • Released for free download on Linkin Park's official website.
  • From the "Linkin Park Featuring You" contest.
The Catalyst featuring ill Audio 3:03 2010 September 2010
  • Remix by Rob Blake.
  • Released for free download on Linkin Park's official website.
  • From the "Linkin Park Featuring You" contest.
The Catalyst, featuring Keaton Hashimoto Download To Donate For Haiti 2.0 2:52 2010 January 11, 2011
  • Remix by Keaton Hashimoto.
  • From the "Linkin Park Featuring You" contest.


Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
The Catalyst (Live In Madrid) A Thousand Suns: Puerta De Alcalá 5:57 November 07, 2010 January 25, 2011
The Catalyst Live In Madrid 6:10 November 07, 2010 April 1, 2011
The Catalyst Live In Red Square 5:40 June 23, 2011 July 21, 2011
  • Released as a prize for the "Iridescent" "Super-Fun Trading Fun-Cards" game. After all six cards were collected, the person could enter the codes of each card at to get a free download of the full show.
The Catalyst (Live From Paris, 2010) A Thousand Suns - Live Around The World 5:54 October 25, 2010 June 19, 2012


"The Catalyst" was debuted at KROQ's Kevin and Bean Breakfast Show, and was played at every show of the cycle with the exception of the first show of the 2011 North American tour in Sunrise, Florida. The song almost always followed "Fallout", and the pairing was typically used to open the encore, with the exceptions of set B-1, B-9, and the one-off Madrid setlist. The song also frequently had a synth transition outro that led into the "The Messenger" when "The Catalyst" was played before it, starting with the show in Buenos Aires until the end of 2010. On the 2011 North American tour, "The Catalyst" opened the encore alongside "Fallout" in set A-1, and was played mid-set in the others, after "Leave Out All The Rest" in set B-11, "Iridescent" in set B-13, and "Breaking The Habit" in set C-5 and C-6. The European and Asian tours had "The Catalyst", along with "Fallout", opening the encore in set E, and following "Breaking The Habit" in set A and the Moscow setlist, "Iridescent" in set C, and "Shadow Of The Day" in the Singapore setlist. Since "Fallout" was dropped from sets B and D, "The Catalyst" alone followed "Breaking The Habit" in set B and "Numb" in set D. A remix of the song mashup up with the Does It Offend You, Yeah? remix was used at the band's presentation of A Thousand Horizons in Japan.

"The Catalyst" returned for the majority of the Living Things cycle. The short, European tour had the song following the "LOATR/SOTD/Iridescent" medley in both setlists, and following "Crawling" at the North Hollywood rehearsal prior to the Honda Civic Tour. The song didn't change position for the rest of the Living Things cycle, and wasn't played after the cycle ended. At the Buenos Aires show in 2012, it was given a short piano outro, and the performance at the 2013 Hong Kong summit had a jam outro.

During the touring for The Hunting Party, snippets of "The Catalyst" were used quite frequently for various reasons. Mashup Intro #1 featured the bridge instrumental of "The Catalyst", the long mashup intro of "Until It's Gone" included Mike and Chester singing the bridge portion of the song, and Chester frequently led the crowd in a sing-a-long version of the bridge part of the song over the extended bridge of "Bleed It Out". Mashup Intro #2, which replaced Mashup Intro #1 once Carnivores started, had an effected clip of the bridge vocals of "The Catalyst" included.

"The Catalyst" made its big return to the stage during the first show of the One More Light touring cycle, where it opened the show with "Fallout", which featured verses from "Roads Untraveled" instead of "Burning In The Skies". The song was shortened, cutting the electronic breakdown and the third chorus, going straight into the bridge. Over the first half of the bridge, the synth lead from the electronic breakdown was played. In the headlining set, the song was moved down to fourth after "Burn It Down".

While touring in support of his solo album Post Traumatic, Mike added an impromptu shortened piano version of "The Catalyst" to open the encore in Padua. He would do this version of the song again two more times, in Ludwigsburg and during his second night in Tel Aviv, with the latter being done due to the microphones on stage dying.


Linkin Park

Last Updated: June 9, 2017

Type Description First Played Last Played
Outro Synth Transition (into "The Messenger") October 7, 2010 December 12, 2010
Outro Piano Outro October 5, 2012 October 5, 2012
Outro Outro Jam August 15, 2013 August 15, 2013
Alternative Shortened (No Electronic Breakdown/Third Chorus) May 6, 2017 June 9, 2017

Mike Shinoda

Last Updated: July 10, 2019

Type Description First Played Last Played
Alternative Piano Version March 15, 2019 March 26, 2019
Alternative Shortened (Bridge/Outro Only) March 15, 2019 March 26, 2019


Awards and Nominations

Studio Version

Year Award Category Status
2011 MTV Video Music Awards Japan Best Group Video Nominated
2011 MTV Video Music Awards Japan Best Rock Video Nominated
2011 MTV Fan Music Awards Best Group Video Nominated


Year Award Category Status
2011 International Dance Music Awards Best Alternative/Rock Dance Track Nominated




In Other Media

  • An early version of "The Catalyst" is featured in the 2010 videogame Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs..
  • An early version of "The Catalyst" is featured in the 2010 videogame Medal Of Honor. An edited version was used in its trailer.
  • "The Catalyst" was released in 2010 as part of a DLC for the 2010 videogame Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock.
  • A remix of "The Catalyst" by Does It Offend You, Yeah? is featured in the 2010 videogame DJ Hero 2.
  • "The Catalyst" was featured in a TV spot for the 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer.

Cover Versions

Pendulum performed "The Catalyst" at BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge on September 22, 2010.

External Links