Our top 10 HIM songs list looks at the body of work of a Finnish rock band renowned for its influence in the gothic metal genre. Established in 1991, HIM rose to a higher status in the gothic metal scene thanks to its unique musical deftness. Initially, HIM went under the moniker His Infernal Majesty, with its original lineup consisting of bassist Mige and lead vocalist Ville Valo. Joined by rotational drummers, the duo started recording music with its first release being the demo, Witches and Other Night Fears.
However, the band’s musical pursuits would take a low profile for the next three years following Mige’s time away in the national military service. The band rekindled its musical pursuits in 1995 sending demo recordings to multiple major rock/metal record labels. HIM would eventually bag a recording deal with Bertelsmann Music Group, BMG, following an impressive cover of the hit “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak.
HIM’s Professional Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
After signing to BMG, the band dropped its moniker His Infernal Majesty to HIM. In 1996, the band released its debut extended play, 666 Ways to Love: Prologue. Among the musical gems featured on this four-track EP was the band’s cover of Chris Isaak’s song “Wicked Game.” The song “Dark Secret” saw the band feature the vocals of actress Sanna-June Hyde and keyboardist Hiili Hiilesmaa. Hiili Hiilesmaa would later produce several recordings by the band, making guest appearances in songs by other bands including Apocalyptica and Amorphis.
HIM went on to release its debut studio album, Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 66, in 1997. The album marked the band’s breakthrough to mainstream and commercial success. Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 managed to reach the top ten on the Finland Albums Chart, peaking at number thirty-one on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart. The album also made it to the German Albums Chart, peaking at number fifty.
Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 saw the band take on heavy metal with the dense influence of rock and gothic sounds. Lead vocalist Ville Valo cited the American gothic metal band Type O Negative as an influence on the band’s debut album. The album was a success in Finland, achieving Platinum status. “When Love and Death Embrace,” “Your Sweet Six Six Six,” “Wicked Game,” and a cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s hit “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” are some of the best HIM songs from the album.
HIM’s Album Releases over the Years
In 2000, HIM released its sophomore album, Razorblade Romance. Razorblade Romance immediately became a success, topping the Finnish, Austrian, and German Albums Charts. The album is the band’s best-selling album in Finland where it received a two times Platinum certification. In Germany, the album was Gold-certified three times, earning a Gold certification in Austria and a Silver certification in the UK.
Razorblade Romance also managed to rise to number eight on the Swiss Hitparade and seventy-eight spot on the Dutch Album Top 100. The melodic sound of the songs in this album played a pivotal role in the success of the project. John Fryer of the now defunct dream pop act This Mortal Coil was the album’s producer. Fryer has also produced music for reputable acts including Cradle of Filth, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and Ulver. “Join Me in Death,” “Right Here in My Arms,” “Gone with the Sin,” and “Poison Girl” are the most popular songs by HIM from the album.
Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights, issued in 2001, marked the band’s third studio album. The album topped the Austrian and Finnish Albums Charts, rising to the second spot on the German and Swiss Albums Charts. Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights was HIM’s first studio album to make it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and ninety. The album was also a commercial success, managing a Platinum certification in Finland and Gold certification in Austria. “Pretending,” “In Joy and Sorrow,” and “Heartache Every Moment,” are the best HIM songs from the album.
In 2003, HIM returned with its fourth studio album, Love Metal. Love Metal marked the band’s last studio album issued through BMG. The album was a mainstream success topping the Finnish and German Albums Charts. Love Metal also topped the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart, rising to number one hundred and seventeen on the Billboard 200. The album also made it to the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number fifty-five.
Love Metal was a commercial success, managing a Platinum certification in Finland. The album also managed a Gold certification in Germany and the UK. Love Metal finds HIM striking a balance between its gothic rock and heavy metal sonic influences. “Buried Alive by Love,” The Sacrament,” and “The Funeral of Hearts” are some of the musical gems by HIM from the album.
In 2005, HIM issued its fifth studio album, Dark Light, through Sire Records. Other notable artists who have released songs/albums through Sire Records include Barenaked Ladies, Blondie, Cyndi Lauper, Flamin’ Groovies, and The Velvet Underground. Dark Light saw the band take on an amalgam of gothic rock and pop rock under the production of Tim Palmer. Tim Palmer is also reputable for producing successful records for U2, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, Tin Machine, Blue October, and Robert Plant.
Dark Light went on to top the Finnish and Greek Albums Charts. The album was a success in the US, peaking at number eighteen on the Billboard 200. Dark Light also made it to the UK Albums Chart, peaking at position eighteen. The album was a commercial success, managing a Gold certification in the US, the UK, Greece, and Germany. Dark Light also managed a Platinum certification in Finland. Some of the musical gems from the album include “Wings of a Butterfly,” “Killing Loneliness,” “Vampire Heart,” and “Under the Rose.”
Under the production of Hiili Hiilesmaa and Tim Palmer, HIM released its sixth studio album, Venus Doom, in 2007. Venus Doom saw the band combine gothic metal, doom metal, and hard rock sonic elements, resulting in one of the most experimental albums by HIM. The album achieved mild success, in the band’s homeland, achieving Gold certification. Venus Doom is the band’s highest charting album on the Billboard 200, where it peaked at number twelve.
Venus Doom also topped the Billboard Hard Rock Albums Chart. The album was a commercial success in Greece, where it managed a Gold certification. “Bleed Well” and “The Kiss of Dawn” are the best HIM songs from the album. Venus Doom gifted HIM its first Grammy Award nomination in the Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package category. However, the album lost to the 2006 album What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967-1977).
In 2010, HIM released its seventh studio album, Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice. The album saw the band shift a little from its usual gothic metal sonic influences taking on hard rock and alternative rock sounds. Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice topped the Billboard Hard Rock Albums, rising to the twenty-fifth spot on the Billboard 200. The album was HIM’s final album to attain Gold certification in Finland. “Heartkiller” and “Scared to Death” are some of the best HIM songs from the album.
Tears on Tape, issued in 2013, marks the last album released by HIM. The album saw the band return to gothic rock with hard rock sonic influences. The album peaked at number fifteen on the Billboard 200, topping the Billboard Hard Rock Chart. “Into the Night,” “Tears on Tape,” and “All Lips Go Blue” are the most popular HIM songs from the album.
HIM’s Accolades and Legacy
Throughout its career, HIM impacted massively on the gothic metal and gothic rock genres. The band’s influence went beyond its homeland Finland after its hit “Join Me in Death” played over the credits of the sci-fi film The Thirteenth Floor. HIM is one of the most commercially successful bands of all time in Finland. Its album, Dark Light, became the first LP by a Finnish outfit to receive a Gold certification by RIAA.
HIM has received multiple accolades, especially in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. The band was voted the Viewers’ Choice Award winner in the 2000 and 2001 VIVA Comet Awards ceremonies. Its song “Join Me in Death” won the 2000 VIVA Comet Awards’ Video of the Year. HIM has also won eight awards of its eighteen nominations in different categories in the Emma Gala. Here we present the ten best HIM songs of all time.
#10- When Love and Death Embrace
Ushering us to the top 10 HIM songs list is the heartrending hit “When Love and Death Embrace.” The song is the first single on HIM’s debut album, Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666. Finnish musician, songwriter, and guitarist Asko Kallonen is credited to have suggested releasing the song as the band’s first single following its solid representation of the band’s sound.
“When Love and Death Embrace” was penned by the band’s lead vocalist Ville Valo. Despite its shallow-length lyrics, the song remains one of the most amazing emotionally charged hits by the band. “When Love and Death Embrace” features killer guitar riffs by Linde Lindström and an astounding bass performance by Mige. The song went on to peak at number nine on the Official Finnish Charts.
#9 – The Kiss of Dawn
“The Kiss of Dawn” is one of the best HIM songs from the band’s RIAA Gold-certified album, Dark Light. This lyrical masterpiece was penned by the band’s vocalist Ville Valo. With the song, Ville showcases his poetic side in his attempt to capture and share the deep mysteries of love. Ville was inspired to pen the lyrics of “The Kiss of Dawn,” following the death of a close ally by suicide.
The late friend in this context committed suicide after HIM completed its recording sessions for the release of a new album. While the death of the friend took a toll on Ville, the singer managed to rise above the dark emotions, making the hit “The Kiss of Dawn.” The song feels more like a celebration of life than the mourning of a lost buddy! Ville cited the song as a perfect way to remember our departed loved ones with a smile rather than being disconsolate!
“The Kiss of Dawn” went on to peak at number two on the Official Finnish Charts. On the UK Singles Chart, the song managed position fifty-nine. “The Kiss of Dawn” is HIM’s final song to make it to the UK Singles Chart.
#8 – In Joy and Sorrow
Coming in at number eight on our top 10 HIM songs is the phenomenal hit “In Joy and Sorrow.” The song is among the best releases from the band’s third studio album, Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights. “In Joy and Sorrow” is a love song that finds the singer confessing how he has found a home in the arms of his lover. Written by Ville Valo, “In Joy and Sorrow” is a perfect song to express how much love, contentment, and joy you find in your loved one with no superfluities.
“In Joy and Sorrow” features the guest performances of Eicca Toppinen of the symphonic metal quartet Apocalyptica and composer Tuomas Kantelinen. The song peaked at number two on the Official Finnish Charts, rising to position ninety-eight on the UK Singles Chart. In 2007, The Angry String Orchestra released an acoustic cover of this hit on the album The String Quartet Tribute to H.I.M.
#7 – The Funeral of Hearts
“The Funeral of Hearts” is a fan-favorite hit by HIM from the band’s album, Love Metal. Written by HIM’s vocalist Ville Valo, the song barely made it to Love Metal, thanks to bassist Mikko Paananen who had quite a huge love for it. Ville gets relatively poetic in this song, with the lyrics proving to be the pillar of this song’s success. This timeless hit topped the Official Finnish Charts, rising to the fifteenth spot on the UK Singles Chart.
“The Funeral of Hearts” was often performed at the end of the band’s live shows. The song was nominated for the Kerrang! Award for Best Single in 2004. However, the song lost to the hit “Last Train Home” by the Welsh rock band Lostprophets. Other songs that had been nominated for the award that year include “Going Under” by Evanescence, “Breaking the Habit” by Linkin Park, “In the Shadows” by The Rasmus, “Orpheus” by Ash, and “Drain the Blood” by The Distillers. “The Funeral of Hearts” won the Best Video accolade in the 2004 Kerrang! Awards.
#6 – Pretending
Number six on our top 10 HIM songs list is the captivating hit “Pretending.” The song is featured on the band’s third LP, Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights. “Pretending” sticks to the band’s usual love theme, with one of the catchiest and most memorable line of the song being “Love is a flame that can’t be tamed.”
In this song, Ville unleashes a charming vocal delivery that complements the song’s outstanding instrumentation. “Pretending” was a success in Finland where it topped the charts. The song also peaked at number thirty-two on the UK Singles Chart. An acoustic version of “Pretending” was issued on the band’s 2006 compilation album, Uneasy Listening Vol. 1.
#5 – Killing Loneliness
Dark Light, the band’s most commercially successful album in the US, is home to our fifth pick of the best HIM songs, “Killing Loneliness.” The song was penned by the band’s vocalist Ville Valo following inspiration from his close friend Brandon Novak. Brandon blamed his addiction to heroin on his deep desire to kill the loneliness he experienced after he was abandoned by his household. His addiction to drugs was so intense that he was jailed in 2011 as a result of prescription forgery.
Apparently, Novak had forged a prescription for Xanax, a drug used to treat panic disorders and anxiety. The first part of the song is set to show how much old memories, despite seemingly gone forever, can trouble us in the future. “Killing Loneliness” was a success, rising to the second spot on the Official Finnish Charts. The song would also rise to number twenty-six on the UK Singles Chart. “Killing Loneliness” was covered by the musician Juan Carlos Cano in 2021.
#4 – Gone With The Sin
“Gone with the Sin” is among the most reputable hits from HIM’s sophomore studio album, Razorblade Romance. The song was penned by Ville Valo, with the lyrics telling of his love for a lady who is filled with distress. Ville Valo croons with a deep, slow, and alluring voice about her beautiful looks.
The singer still mentions the deep desolation that seems to surround her heart. However, all these don’t seem to thwart his intentions to love the lady; after all, they are birds of the same feathers, ailing from the torment and sufferings of the cruel world. “Gone with the Sin” topped the Official Finnish Charts, charting on the German and Swiss Singles Charts.
#3 – Wings of a Butterfly
The third pick of our ten best HIM songs list is the anthemic hit “Wings of a Butterfly.” “Wings of a Butterfly” is the band’s highest charting hit in the US, rising to position eighty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100. The song propelled the success of the 2005 album Dark Light to Gold status in the US, making HIM the first Finnish act to attain the feat. “Wings of a Butterfly” is the only song by the band to ever make it to the Billboard Hot 100.
The song also topped the Finnish and Hungary Singles Charts, rising to the top of the UK Rock & Metal Chart. “Wings of a Butterfly” also made it to number ten on the UK Singles Chart. Lead vocalist Ville Valo revealed that the song alludes to how one can barely have something new without sacrificing time and resources for it! Norwegian singer-songwriter PelleK covered this song in 2016. “Wings of a Butterfly” won the Song of the Years accolade in the 2005 Emma Gala.
#2 – Right Here In My Arms
“Right Here in My Arms” is one of the musical gems by HIM whose impact lives one to date. The song is featured on the double Platinum-certified album, Razorblade Romance. “Right Here in My Arms” finds vocalist Ville Valo crooning about how a lady is madly in love with him. The song features some killer guitar riffs that bring out the best of the band’s guitarist Linde Lindström.
“Right Here in My Arms” was a success on the charts, topping the Official Finnish Charts. The song also made it to the Swiss Hitparade, peaking at number forty-five. “Right Here in My Arms” was a commercial success, receiving a Gold certification in the band’s homeland, Finland. The song also made it to the Official Austrian Singles Chart, peaking at number twenty-two.
#1 – Join Me In Death
Number one on our top 10 HIM songs list is the alluring hit “Join Me in Death.” The song is the most popular and commercially successful release from the band’s sophomore LP, Razorblade Romance. “Join Me in Death” was the band’s breakthrough hit, having it top the Finnish and German Singles Charts in 1999. The song rose to mainstream success after it was featured on the end credits of the European version of the film The Thirteenth Floor. The US version of the same film features the hit “Erase/Rewind” by the Swedish rock band The Cardigans.
“Join Me in Death” finds singer Ville asking his lover where she would give him her all and possibly commit suicide to be with him forever. The song is among the best-selling single in Finland, earning a Platinum certification three times. “Join Me in Death” also received Gold certification in Germany and Austria. The song was covered by Anastasia and Gregorian featuring Sarah Brightman.
“Join Me in Death” was also sampled in the songs “Join Me” by Lightforce and “Fallen” by RAF 3.0 featuring Nazar. While the song was penned in just fifteen minutes, Ville revealed that it took the band about two and half years to arrange it. The hard work paid off, with “Join Me in Death” becoming the band’s signature song. “Join Me in Death” bagged the Video of the Year accolade in the 2000 VIVA Comet Awards ceremony.
Feature Photo: HelsinkiValo, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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