OOH, BARRACUDA!

Song: Barracuda

Album: Little Queen

Released: 1977

Of all Heart hits, "Barracuda" has had the second most airplay after "Magic Man" since 1998 when computerized tracking began.

“Barracuda” was released as a single from the album, Little Queen, and became Heart’s second Top-20 hit, peaking at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.  “Barracuda” is an aggressive, hard-rock tune, distinguished by its galloping guitar riff, leaving some to describe it as a kind of “a rocked-up William Tell Overture…”  There are novel sounds in the song’s introduction, described by some as “bent” harmonics with the help of the guitar’s tremolo arm.  Ann Wilson’s vocals throughout the song’s performance are driving and powerful. (Source: Pop History Dig)

90971734-51e3-4997-a859-7a287eeac753.jpeg

Written by Ann and Nancy Wilson together with guitarist Roger Fisher and drummer Michael DeRosier. According to the band, the song is a statement about the record industry in general. It was written at a time when there was friction between the band and their label. Little Queen was the first album Heart released for the CBS-Portrait label. Their old label, Mushroom Records, sued the band and in 1978 released Magazine, an album made up of previously recorded material that Heart did not want released. (Thanks to Sovereign Records for this information)

The Wilson sisters revealed in various interviews that the song was about Heart's anger towards an ad Mushroom Records placed in trade publications implying that Ann and Nancy were lesbians having an affair (see the full ad and read more about it). The song focuses on Ann's rage towards a music industry person who came up to her after a concert in Detroit asking how her "lover" was.

download (2).jpeg

She replied that her boyfriend and band manager, Michael Fisher, was fine. After this person revealed he was talking about her sister Nancy Wilson, Ann became angry and went back to her hotel room to write the words of the song. Michael Fisher encouraged Ann to put the words she was writing to the powerful, triumphant music already created by Roger Fisher and Michael Derosier. 

WHERE HAS BARRACUDA BEEN USED?

This song can be heard in the movies Wag the Dog (1997), Charlie's Angels (2000), Roll Bounce (2005), You Again (2010), The Campaign (2012) and Identity Thief (2013).

TV series to feature the song include The SopranosChuck and My Name Is Earl. It was also used in a 2009 episode of Glee where it was performed by Lea Michele and Adam Lambert.

Fergie performed this with Heart at the 2008 Idol Gives Back charity special on American Idol>>

During the 2008 presidential campaign, this song was used as the unofficial theme song for Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor originally earned the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" when she played basketball in high school, because of her fierce competitiveness. The name was revived after Palin became mayor of her hometown, Wasilla, in 1996 and it was played at the 2008 National Republican Convention, after she gave a speech. The next day, Ann and Nancy Wilson issued a statement that said: "The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission. We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored." 

Their wishes were not honored, and the song was played at the convention that night after their presidential nominee John McCain spoke and Palin joined him on stage. As the Republican campaign pointed out, they had obtained the proper performance rights to the song and were under no obligation to get further permission to use it (they would have if they wanted to use it in a commercial or video).

With no legal recourse, the Wilson sisters retaliated in the media, telling Entertainment Weekly: "Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song 'Barracuda' no longer be used to promote her image. The song 'Barracuda' was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there."

The song's co-writer Roger Fisher was also anti-Palin, but he saw things differently, telling Reuters he was "thrilled" that the song was being used as it was a win-win situation. He explained that while Heart gets publicity and royalties, the Republicans benefit from "the ingenious placement of a kick-ass song." He added that he would use some of the proceeds in a donation to the Obama campaign, and thus, "the Republicans are now supporting Obama." (Source: Song Facts)


Press Announcement

April 8, 2014

HEART WINS ULTIMATE CLASSIC Rock’s MARCH RIFF MADNESS!

Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ Named Best Guitar Riff of All Time

Photo by Elliot Gould

Photo by Elliot Gould

“I have to admit it’s a pretty good stinkin’ lick, but it never would have been heard if not for the band, or if Mike Fisher hadn’t passionately suggested we make a song out of what DEROSIER and I were jamming at sound check.” Says Roger.

From Ultimate Classic Rock: “Congratulations to Heart, whose 1977 anthem ‘Barracuda’ defeated 31 other amazing songs to win our first-ever March Riff Madness readers poll.

Nearly half a million votes were cast during the five rounds of this competition, as we used a bracket system to cut the field of competitors in half each week. Look at the monster groups and riffs Heart defeated on their way to the finals: Van Halen‘s ‘Unchained,’ Guns N’ Roses‘ ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ Motley Crue‘s ‘Kickstart My Heart,’ and Aerosmith‘s ‘Walk This Way.’ Once in the finals Heart squared off against another sibling act, the Kinks, and 1964′s almighty ‘You Really Got Me’ — which, terrifyingly, more than one reader identified as a cover of a Van Halen song in our Facebook comments pages. The two riffs battled neck and neck all week, but in the final hours Heart pulled away for a convincing 53 percent to 47 percent victory!” Read More about the contest here: Heart's 'Barracuda' Wins March Riff Madness.

Fisher_Roger_1978_cab_fans_rogerfishercom.jpg

Roger thanks his friends, family and fans for making this riff number one! “I heard several accounts of people actually staying up all night to keep voting. This kind of spirit is what this world needs. It’s like the 12th Man. THANK YOU for being on our team. Ultimately, isn’t there only one team? The HUMAN TRIBE.”