Barracuda (song)

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Single by Heart
from the album Little Queen
B-side"Cry to Me"
ReleasedMay 1977
StudioKaye Smith, Seattle
Length4:20 (Single/Album Version)
3:23 (Promo Version) [1]
Producer(s)Mike Flicker
Heart singles chronology
"Dreamboat Annie"
"Little Queen"
Music video
"Barracuda" on YouTube

"Barracuda" is a song by American rock band Heart, released in 1977 on their third studio album, Little Queen, and was released as the album's lead single. The song peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2009, "Barracuda" was named the 34th-best hard rock song of all time by VH1.[2]

The song was included on the compilation albums Greatest Hits/Live (1980), These Dreams: Greatest Hits (1997), Greatest Hits (1998), The Essential Heart (2002), Love Alive (2005), Playlist: The Very Best of Heart (2008) and Strange Euphoria (2012), and on the live albums Rock the House Live! (1991), The Road Home (1995), Alive in Seattle (2003) and Live in Atlantic City (2019).



Ann Wilson revealed in interviews that the song was about Heart's anger towards Mushroom Records, who as a publicity stunt released a made-up story of an incestuous affair involving Ann and her sister Nancy Wilson. The song particularly focuses on Ann's rage towards a male radio promoter who came up to her after a concert asking how her "lover" was. She initially thought he was talking about her boyfriend, band manager Michael Fisher. After he revealed he was talking about her sister Nancy, Ann became outraged, went back to her hotel room, and wrote the original lyrics of the song.[3]

Producer Mike Flicker added that Mushroom Records was so obtuse in the contract negotiations that Heart decided to discard the album they were working on, Magazine—which the label still released in an unfinished form—and instead sign with the newly formed Portrait Records to make another record, Little Queen. As Flicker put it,

"Barracuda" was created conceptually out of a lot of this record business bullshit. Barracuda could be anyone from the local promotion man to the president of a record company. That is the barracuda. It was born out of that whole experience.[4]


In a March 2019 interview with Gear Factor, Nancy Wilson revealed that the guitar riff for "Barracuda" was inspired by the riff from Nazareth's cover of the Joni Mitchell song "This Flight Tonight". Wilson said:

We've been opening for a band called Nazareth in Europe and also for Queen. And Nazareth had a hit with a Joni Mitchell song that they covered [in 1973] called "This Flight Tonight" that had kind of that riff.

So we kind of borrowed that. And we made it into "Barracuda". And we saw the guys from Nazareth later and they were pissed. "You took our riff!".

But that's kind of what everybody—you borrow from what you love and then you make it your own. It's one of those sounds too, it's one of those guitar tones that I'm still trying to figure out what we did. [Laughs] It's hard to re-create.[5]


"Barracuda" has been labeled by reviewers as heavy metal and hard rock.[6] Upon the song's release, it became Heart's second top-20 entry in the United States, peaking at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending 20 weeks on the chart.[7]

Cash Box called it "an aggressive rocker, tempered with sparkling production and Ann Wilson's alluring lead vocal.."[8] Record World said that it is "tough, driving rock 'n' roll, topped by the Wilsons' evocative vocals."[9]

Usage at the 2008 Republican National Convention[edit]

"Barracuda" was played at the 2008 Republican National Convention in reference to John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, who claims she was known as "Sarah Barracuda" as a high school basketball star (and as "Sarracuda" after the convention, a play on her name). The Wilson sisters disapproved, as they disagreed with Palin's politics, and sent a cease-and-desist letter to John McCain's campaign,[10] despite the McCain campaign's claim to have lawfully purchased rights to use the song.[11]

In an appearance on a Seattle talk show, song co-writer and lead guitarist Roger Fisher announced he was thrilled with the RNC's use of the song, because it both resulted in royalties for the band and gave them an opportunity to publicly point out that he is a "staunch" supporter of Barack Obama.[12] Michael Derosier, a co-writer of the song and the band's drummer on the recording, also supports the use of the song by the RNC.[13] The McCain campaign continued to use the song, despite Nancy Wilson's statement to Entertainment Weekly that "Sarah Palin's views and values in no way represent us as American women."[11][14]


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Little Queen.[15]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Silver 200,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Barracuda". Discogs. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  2. ^ "100 Best Hard Rock Songs Ever (According to VH1)". Stereogum. January 5, 2009.
  3. ^ "Original TV Shows, Reality TV Shows". VH1. September 30, 2016. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  4. ^ "Classic Tracks: Heart's "Barracuda"". Mixonline. January 9, 1999. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  5. ^ "Heart's Nancy Wilson: We Took 'Barracuda' Riff From Legendary Band". YouTube. March 5, 2019. Archived from the original on December 22, 2021.
  6. ^ Saulnier, Jason (March 15, 2012). "Roger Fisher Interview". Music Legends. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Heart Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  8. ^ "CashBox Singles Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. May 28, 1977. p. 18. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  9. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. June 4, 1977. p. 1. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  10. ^ "Heart to Sarah Palin: Don't Play 'Barracuda'". Fox News. September 5, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "McCain and Palin once again play 'Barracuda'". CNN. September 9, 2008.
  12. ^ "Heart's Roger Fisher thrilled with RNC 'Barracuda' play Archived September 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine" Summary and link to streaming audio. KIRO 97.3 FM
  13. ^ On-air interview with Roger Fisher Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, by Dori Monson, 710 KIRO, Seattle
  14. ^ "Exclusive: Heart's Nancy Wilson responds to McCain campaign's use of 'Barracuda' at Republican convention". Entertainment Weekly. May 9, 2008. Archived from the original on July 25, 2009.
  15. ^ Little Queen (liner notes). Heart. Portrait Records. 1977. JR 34799.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. p. 136. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ "Heart – Barracuda" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  18. ^ "Heart – Barracuda" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5417a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  20. ^ "Heart ((USA)) – Barracuda" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  21. ^ "Heart – Barracuda" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  22. ^ "Heart – Barracuda". Top 40 Singles.
  23. ^ "SA Charts 1965–1989 (As presented on Springbok Radio/Radio Orion) – Acts H". The South African Rock Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  24. ^ "Heart – Barracuda". Singles Top 100.
  25. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles – Week ending August 27, 1977". Cash Box. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  26. ^ " – Heart – Barracuda" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  27. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1970s". Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  28. ^ "Kent Music Report No 183 – 26 December 1977 > National Top 100 Singles for 1977". Kent Music Report. Retrieved January 8, 2022 – via
  29. ^ "Top 200 singles of '77". RPM. Vol. 28, no. 14. December 31, 1977. p. 13. ISSN 0315-5994. Retrieved October 12, 2016 – via Library and Archives Canada.
  30. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1977". The South African Rock Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  31. ^ "Hot 100 Songs – Year-End 1977". Billboard. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  32. ^ "The Cash Box Year-End Charts: 1977 – Top 100 Pop Singles". Cash Box. December 31, 1977. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  33. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts – 1977" (in German). Offizielle Deutsche Charts. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  34. ^ "British single certifications – Heart – Barracuda". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved August 20, 2021.