Top 10 Metric Songs

Metric Songs

Feature Photo: Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

Founded in 1998 out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Metric has been making its impact in the rock music industry since 1998. Since then, a total of eight albums have come from a band best known for its alternative rock style. With an impressive roster of great songs from these recordings, ten come to mind as standout favorites.

The original Metric lineup began with Emily Haines and James Shaw. Haines was born in India and Shaw was born in England before their families moved to Ontario, Canada. In 1996, the two met for the first time at a popular tavern in Toronto, Ontario. The two formed an instant bond, discovering they both shared the same opinions when it came to the music industry. As a couple, Haines and Shaw began to write songs together. In 1996, Haines recorded and released her first album, Cut in Half and Also Double as an independent label. In 1997, Shaw did the same with Life on the Clock. Shaw’s recording featured Haines singing with him on some of the songs in the album’s tracklist. After the two moved together to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the couple called themselves Mainstream and released their first recording in 1998. Mainstream EP was their five-song debut. It wasn’t long after this, Haines and Shaw switched their band name from Mainstream to Metric.

Old Metric

As a name, Metric came from a programmed sound Shaw had saved on his keyboard while he worked on a song. Before meeting Haines, he was already acquainted with Torquil Campbell and Chris Seligman as fellow classmates when he attended a music school in Boston, Massachusetts. His friendship with them leads to their friendship with Haines. As Metric, these four bandmates decided to relocate to New York City’s borough, Brooklyn. The year was 1998 when they chose to do this. After struggling for the first few years, the year 2000 marked the beginning of a new chapter for Metric as the band signed a contract with London, England’s Chrysalis Records.

After recording a series of demos with its collection of new wave music featuring synthpop drum work, Haines and Shaw returned to Brooklyn. By November 2000, the new lineup of Metric featured Haines and Shaw, along with bass guitarist Jarrett Mason and drummer Joules Scott-Key. As Metric, 2001’s Grow Up and Blow Away was recorded as a full-length album while signed with an independent label known as Restless Records. However, that recording wasn’t officially released until six years later by another label, Last Gang Records. In the meantime, Metric also recorded and released Static Anonymity, an EP that was available for purchase only from the band’s website and at live performances.

In 2002, Metric recruited Joshua Winstead as its new bass guitarist as Haines and Shaw continued to focus on polishing their musical activities to do more than just studio recordings. Although Metric did perform in concert, the ability to achieve the same sound quality found in the recordings wasn’t quite at the level the band preferred. It wasn’t until recruiting stronger drummers, as well as Winstead, that they are able to kick their live performance levels up a few notches.

New Metric

2003 marked the year Metric’s impact on the independent music scene saw the start of its major breakthrough as a rock group. Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? was the first full-length studio album the band produced. In Canada, this album became Metric’s first certified gold album. Shortly after this, Metric played a role as themselves in the 2004 independent French flick, Clean, which became a nominated favorite at the Cannes Film Festival. After Metric’s debut album, it was 2005’s Live it Out Loud. This time, Metric realized its first certified platinum record with Music Canada. This was later followed by the long overdue release of Grow Up and Blow Away. However, the 2001 recording met with some tweaks before it was released in 2007.

When 2009’s Fantasies was released as Metric’s fourth studio album, the Canadian-based rock group finally earned more than nominations for their work as a band. In addition to becoming their second certified platinum seller in Canada, it was awarded Alternative Album of the Year at Canada’s 2010 Juno Awards. Metric was also named 2010’s Group of the Year. In 2013, the group won Juno Awards again after releasing its fifth studio album, Synthetica. Like its predecessors, it also became certified platinum. In 2015, Metric recorded and released its sixth studio album, Pagans in Vegas. This was followed in 2018 with Art of Doubt. In 2022, Formentera became Metric’s eighth studio album, showing neither Haines nor Shaw is ready to slow their momentum down anytime soon.

Top 10 Metric Songs

#10 – Stadium Love

When Fantasies was released in 2009 by Metric, this was done so a week earlier than originally intended. The reason was too much information about it was leaked out so Metric had no choice but to take a decision that wound up becoming part of a news story. That story revolved around the decline of influence major record labels were experiencing. As a single, “Stadium Love” emphasized how fans are the most important element that turns a dead venue into a realm of excitement. “Stadium Love” became the official song for Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays during its 2013 season. The National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers used this song during its 2014-15 season each time it scored a goal in that team’s home stadium.

#9 – Doomscroller

Released in 2022, “Doomscroller” was a song that spoke against the addiction to the news too many people share as addicts to stories they read about on digital devices such as cellphones and computers. As an album, Formentera brought forth a recording that focused on the value of freedom in a world that’s hell-bent on Borg-like conformity. “Doomscroller” spends over ten minutes as a race through the obstacle course laid out by modern-day living. This song became a standout favorite, especially among fans who feel the same way.

#8 – Formentera

“Formentera” was the title track from Metric’s eighth studio album, which was released in 2022. Sung as a triumphant song, “Formentera” was all about the euphoric feeling that comes with freedom. Songwriters Emily Haines and James Shaw have made a career out of embracing what human beings deserve while the political world seems bent on taking it all away. The song is about letting go of fear, which is the key to realizing true freedom.

#7 – Gold Guns Girls

As a song, “Gold Guns Girls” owed its source of inspiration to the 1983 gangster movie, Scarface. This was released as a single in 2009 from Metric’s fourth studio album, Fantasies. Sung as if in the heat of battle, “Gold Guns Girls” quickly became a fan favorite that had this song peak as high as number sixteen on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart. It was also a number twenty-eight hit on the US Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, and a number eighty-five hit on the Canadian Hot 100. It was a song that took aim against the sin known as greed and how it can change decent human beings into trigger-happy monsters.

#6 – Monster Hospital

“Monster Hospital” was a single released from the album Live It Loud. This was a song that made reference to Bobby Fuller and his hit single, “I Fought the Law.” However, the theme of Metric’s song was shifted from law to war. It also made reference to a popular character from the 1885 Annie novel, Daddy Warbucks. This was a song that had Emily Haines and James Shaw use their musical vision to speak out against political powers who always seem too eager for their own good to start up and fight wars. On the music charts belonging to the UK-based New Music Express, it became a number twelve hit. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number fifty-five.

#5 – Sick Muse

The Canadian RPM Alternative Singles chart peaked “Sick Muse” at number twenty-six while the Mexico Ingles Chart peaked at number eighteen. This was the third of seven singles that came from Metric’s fourth studio album, Fantasies. As a song, “Sick Muse” made reference to the Greek gods, Cupid and Psyche. It was a song about everybody wanting love but at the same time assuming a leadership role that often adds complications to an otherwise ideal relationship.

#4 – Breathing Underwater

Music Canada certified “Breathing Underwater” gold, making it the fourth single released by Metric to earn this achievement. This song came from the album, Synthetica, and was credited to Haines and Shaw for what became yet another wonderfully produced recording. On the Canadian Hot 100, it peaked as high as number twenty-two while on its Alternative Singles chart peaked it at number sixteen. What makes this song a favorite starts with the stories behind Emily Haines and James Shaw. When the two met in 1996, they were young and idealistic. Now it’s 2012 and the two have grown together as people and musicians. They also grew together as a couple. It wasn’t about romance. The song came across as a reflection of what was, what is, and what is yet to come. For a good tune that perhaps has a few soul-searching qualities to it, “Breathing Underwater” is a great song to listen to in the process.

#3 – Gimme Sympathy

“Gimme Sympathy” became one of the best-selling singles for Metric since it was released in 2009. On the Canadian RPM Alternative Singles chart, it peaked as high as number sixteen. It was a number fifty-two hit on the Canadian Hot 100. It was also Metric’s first hit in Mexico, peaking as high as number seventeen on its Ingles Airplay chart. The inspiration behind ‘Gimme Sympathy” came after a conversation shared between lead singer Emily Haines and lead guitarist, James Shaw. At the time, they were the opening act for the Rolling Stones. “Gimme Shelter” and ‘Sympathy For the Devil” became a merger of two song ideas to bring “Gimme Sympathy” as Metric’s next single.

#2 – Youth Without Youth

When “Youth Without Youth” was released as a single in 2012, it met with a mixed reaction from music critics. As far as the fans were concerned, this song about misguided youth was one of the favorite tracks coming from Metric’s fifth studio album, Synthetica. On the Canadian Alternative Rock chart, it became a number-one hit. The Canada Rock Chart peaked this song as high as number twelve while the Canadian Hot 100 peaked it as high as number sixty-three. In America, “Youth Without Youth” became a number fifteen hit on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, as well as a number twenty-eight hit on the US Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. As a single, it also became certified gold with Music Canada.

#1 – Help, I’m Alive

From the album, Fantasies, “Help, I’m Alive” became one of Metrics’ biggest singles as a recording artist. Released in 2008, this certified gold single became a number fifteen hit on the Canadian RPM Alternative Singles chart, a number twenty-one hit on the Canadian Hot 100, and a number seventeen hit on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart. On the US Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, it peaked as high as number thirty. Written by Emily Haines, this piano-based tune started off as a slow ballad before kicking up the pace in what felt like a desperate soul-searching mission. This song became a popular addition to the NBA 2K10 video game, as well as on a few episodes belonging to different television programs and documentaries. This song was dramatic from start to finish, rightfully earning its place as one of Metric’s best so far.

Top 10 Metric Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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