"Freak on a Leash" is a song by the American nu metal band Korn, featured on the group's 1998 studio album, Follow the Leader. Prior to the album's release, Korn had an instrumental section of the song, described as a "noisy guitar break." The section was taken out of the song after their fans requested it be taken out. After Follow the Leader's release, the song was released as a single on May 25, 1999, and since then, it has been re-released over ten times. The song uses dissonance, distortion, various guitar effects, and a heavy, aggressive style.
Following the release of Follow the Leader, Korn promoted the studio album by headlining the Family Values Tour in 1998. The tour ran from September 22 until October 31. "Freak on a Leash" was the first song played on their first tour date. The original composition had a "noisy guitar break in the middle," but, after the group found out that radio stations are not fond of "noisy guitar breaks," they asked their fans if they should take out the break. Roughly four out of five of the fans were in favor of taking the break out. The band described the break as "the Biohazard part."
"Freak on a Leash" was recorded in May 1998 at NRG Recording Studios in North Hollywood, California. It was released as their second single, on May 25, 1999, and is considered to be one of their most successful singles. Since its first release in the United Kingdom, it has been released over ten times. It was released in the United Kingdom three times, twice in Mexico and Australia, once in Germany, once in France, once in the United States, and once in Switzerland.GuitaristBrian "Head" Welch said that the song "was about Jonathan Davis being a freak on a leash—sort of a kinky dominatrix thing." Leah Furman said that the song "revolved around the mixed blessings of fame".
"Freak on a Leash" is four minutes and 15 seconds long. The song uses dissonance, distortion, and various effects to bring the song "to life." David Lloyd from the University of Alberta said that the song was an example of a "nonsense-utterance" technique used by lead vocalist Jonathan Davis. Lloyd also noted that the song contained "fragments of English-language words," and said that they "can be perceived in the midst of Davis' gibberish". Lloyd later went on to say that "Davis is giving voice to his inner basic feelings which are trying to resist being shaped or conditioned by utterances of others."
Elias Pampalk said that the song was "rather aggressive" and said it was heavy metal/death metal. Pampalk proclaimed that "melodic elements do not play an important role in 'Freak on a Leash' and the specific loudness sensation is a rather complex pattern". There are reoccurring elements throughout "Freak on a Leash". The song contains vocals, guitars, bass and percussion. It expresses moods such as anger, drama, and sarcasm.
An acoustic rendition of the song was recorded with Jonathan Davis singing a duet with Amy Lee of Evanescence, at MTV studios in Times Square, New York City for Korn's acoustic set on December 9, 2006. A remixed version was made by a fan in San Jose CA and submitted to Live 105 radio station. The new mix pushed the song back to the top ten requested for another month after the original had fallen off. The artist, Nathan E, came to the station for an interview where it was revealed he was just 15 years old.
A screenshot from the "Freak on a Leash" music video
A music video for "Freak on a Leash" was released on February 5, 1999, and debuted on Total Request Live. The music video was recorded on December 13 and 14, 1998, in Los Angeles, California. It was directed by Todd McFarlane who was assisted by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The music video contains a mixture of animation and live performance footage. Although it was expected to be released in January 1999, it was pushed back to February 1999. The video starts with an animated segment directed by McFarlane, where the children playing hopscotch the artist drew for the Follow the Leader cover are interrupted by a policeman. An accidentally-fired bullet breaks out of animation world into the real world and wreaks much property damage (while narrowly avoiding hitting many people) before flying around the members of Korn and going back the way it came, returning to the animated world. The directory work was described as combining "special effects and clever camera moves in the live action portion of the video."
David Lloyd said it was Korn's most popular song, and on July 8, 1999, the song was the ninth most-infringed song on the Internet.iTunes said that "Wright and Thompson bring a brighter, sharper sheen to Korn's sound, which helped make huge hits out of 'Freak on a Leash'."
Allmusic editor highlighted the song. David Fricke described: "caged-animal babble (the Busta Rhymes-in-Bellevue outburst in "Freak on a Leash")..." Yahoo Music! concluded that Davis delves into his own personal demons, in this song present.