Streaming services are bizarre places. Powered by auto-generated playlists, social media trends and convoluted algorithms, they have the power to take the least likely songs and give them millions upon millions of listens. It’s a phenomenon that metal’s not free from. Here are just ten songs that diehard fans wouldn’t expect to catch on, but that have amassed more listens than even some of a band’s greatest hits.
Iron Maiden – Wasting Love (Fear Of The Dark, 1992)
Open your Spotify app. See Iron Maiden’s top 10 most-streamed songs. Number nine is this Fear Of The Dark deep cut. Confusion ensues. Some could argue that Wasting Love’s parent album is an underrated one, given the majesty of its title track and Be Quick Or Be Dead’s incensed thrash. Despite being Fear Of The Dark's third single, however, has this track ever really been seen as anything more than a filler? Apparently yes, given those 75 million online listens.
Slipknot – Custer (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
We have TikTok to thank for the third single from .5: The Gray Chapter suddenly drumming up more numbers than Slipknot classics like People = Shit and (sic). A number of online trends revolve around this nu metal rager, which include “girly pop”, “Slipknot cats” and “the Slipknot Macarena”. We’re too old to fully understand this shit, but it’s one of the best songs on its album, so it deserves the attention.
Slayer – Delusions Of Saviour (Repentless, 2015)
Plenty of people skip those one or two-minute instrumentals that start an album. Slayer fans seem to be the opposite, though: this Repentless opener is the thrash metal savages’ fourth-most streamed song ever! Bafflingly, only Raining Blood, Angel Of Death and South Of Heaven are more popular. It’s an excellently evil piece, gradually escalating around one ominous guitar melody, but seeing it outdo War Ensemble and Hell Awaits feels wrong.
Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes (Results May Very, 2003)
AllMusic once called Limp Bizkit’s take on Behind Blue Eyes the worst “of their never-ending series of embarrassing covers”. Clearly, nobody heard the news, since this cut off of Results May Vary – itself an absolutely slated album – is the third-most-streamed song by Fred Durst and the lads. It’s bigger than My Way, My Generation, Take A Look Around and Faith, and only 60 million listens shy of toppling Rollin’. What?!
Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King (Hail To The King, 2013)
When Avenged Sevenfold simplified their sound and released Hail To The King in 2013, their fanbase bisected. While some welcomed the newfound accessibility of their music, others accused the band of merely ripping off Guns N’ Roses and Metallica for an hour. The old adage says that controversy creates cash, though, so does that explain why the album’s title track has 450 million Spotify streams – nearly 200 million more than any other Avenged song?
Ghost – Mary On A Cross (Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic, 2019)
TikTok strikes again! Although it’s not unfathomably wild that Mary On A Cross became a megahit given its infectiousness and nostalgic ’60s swing, what’s weird here is the timeframe. By the time it truly rocketed towards its current 322-million-stream tally, it was summer 2022: four years after its release. As it turns out, getting tethered to a viral TikTok about Stranger Things is what thrust this number into renewed relevance.
Machine Head – Is There Anybody Out There? (2016)
Do you think Robb Flynn and co. expected this standalone single to be as successful as Davidian and Locust combined to stand tall as their most-streamed song ever? Is There Anybody Out There? side-swiped Machine Head from groove metal to the kind of hard rock anthem-making that previously proved disastrous in the late 90s, but this time it worked. It wouldn’t surprise us if the ill-received Catharsis was the band trying to capitalise on this single’s 80 million streams.
Death – Voice Of The Soul (The Sound Of Perseverance, 1998)
Death released seven flawless albums and pioneered three subgenres of metal: death metal, technical death metal and melodeath. The albums Human and Individual Thought Patterns especially felt lightyears ahead of the rest of the scene, but their popularity has apparently been eclipsed by The Sound Of Perserverance’s Voice Of The Soul. Although it’s a masterful guitar instrumental, it also sounds nothing like what made this lot pioneers. 28 million listens can't be wrong, mind.
In Flames – The Jester’s Dance (The Jester Race, 1996)
From 1994 to 2000, In Flames released five of the finest melodeath albums ever. However, if Spotify is anything to go by, the most listened-to song from that golden age is The Jester’s Dance: a two-minute instrumental interlude on 1996’s The Jester Race. What’s especially wacky is that this segue separates Moonshield and Artefacts Of The Black Rain, both of which long-time followers hail as among the band’s greatest songs.
Carcass – Black Star (Swansong, 1996)
There’s a contingent of Carcass fans that loathe Swansong. The Liverpudlians emphasised melody more and more as they went on, to the point that Heartwork was a pioneering melodeath record, but this death ’n’ roll album pushed too far from their grindcore roots for many. It’s pretty baffling, then, that deep cut Black Star is this band’s second-most streamed song on Spotify, with only Heartwork eclipsing its numbers.
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