Freak on a Leash

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Freak on a leash)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Freak on a Leash"
Single by Korn
from the album Follow the Leader
ReleasedMay 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)
  • 4:27 (full version)
  • 4:15 (album version)
  • 3:46 (clean radio edit)
Korn singles chronology
"Freak on a Leash"
"Falling Away from Me"
Korn singles chronology
"Freak on a Leash"
Amy Lee singles chronology
"Freak on a Leash"
"Speak to Me"
MTV Unplugged cover
MTV Unplugged rendition cover art
MTV Unplugged rendition cover art
Audio sample
"Freak on a Leash"

"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."[5] 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.[6]

The "Freak on a Leash" music video was released on February 5, 1999. Directed by Todd McFarlane in Los Angeles, California, the video explores both animations and live performances mixed together. As a result, the band released a music video that won three awards, and was retired from Total Request Live. The single peaked at number six on the Alternative Songs chart, 10 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart, and 24 on the UK Singles Chart.


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."[5]

"Freak on a Leash" was recorded in May 1998 at NRG Recording Studios in North Hollywood, California.[7] It was released as their second single, on May 25, 1999, and is considered to be one of their most successful singles.[8] Since its first release in the United Kingdom, it has been released over ten times. It was released in the United Kingdom three times,[9][10][11] twice in Mexico and Australia,[12][13] once in Germany,[14] once in France,[15] once in the United States,[16] and once in Switzerland.[17] Guitarist Brian "Head" Welch said that the song "was about Jonathan Davis being a freak on a leash—sort of a kinky dominatrix thing."[18] Leah Furman said that the song "revolved around the mixed blessings of fame".[19]


"Freak on a Leash" is four minutes and 15 seconds long.[20] The song uses dissonance, distortion, and various effects to bring the song "to life."[21] 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."[22]

Elias Pampalk said that the song was "rather aggressive" and said it was heavy metal/death metal.[6] 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".[6] The song contains vocals, guitars, bass and percussion. It expresses moods such as anger, drama, and sarcasm.[23]

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.[24] 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.

Music video[edit]

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.[25] 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.[26] 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 (including a cameo appearance of Korn as some of the children) playing hopscotch on a cliff the artist drew for the Follow the Leader cover are interrupted by a policeman. An accidentally-fired bullet from the policeman's gun breaks out of the animated world into the real world and wreaks much property damage (while narrowly avoiding hitting many people). The bullet then enters a Korn poster and flies around the members of Korn before going back the way it came, returning to the animated world. Once back in the animated world, the girl in red (also from the album cover) catches the bullet and gives it to the policeman, to which the bullet dissipates; the children leave as the policeman stares at his empty hands bewildered as the camera then focuses on the loose "No Trespassing" sign; which then leads up to the follow-up video for "Falling Away from Me" featured on the band's then next album Issues. The directory work was described as combining "special effects and clever camera moves in the live action portion of the video."[25]

The video won awards for Best Editing and Best Rock Video at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards,[27][28][29] and later received the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 2000. It became the ninth video that was retired from Total Request Live on May 11, 1999.[30] The music video was also featured on Deuce.[31]


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.[32] 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'."[33] Allmusic editor highlighted the song.[34] David Fricke described: "caged-animal babble (the Busta Rhymes-in-Bellevue outburst in "Freak on a Leash")..."[35] Yahoo Music! concluded that Davis delves into his own personal demons, in this song present.[36]

It was rated the sixth-top single of 1999 by Spin.[37] It reached number six on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and number ten on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart,[38] and was successful on the Hot 100 charting number 89. It was also immensely popular in Australia where the single was certified Gold for shipments in excess of 35,000 units.[39] The song appeared on VH1's list of the "40 Greatest Metal Songs" at number twenty-three.[40]

The music video debuted at number eight on MTV's Total Request Live on February 9, 1999,[41] and peaking at number 1 on its thirteenth day, February 25.[42] and spent ten non-consecutive days at the top position until its "retirement", on May 11, 1999.[43][44] It won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video and the 1999 Metal Edge Readers' Choice Award for "Music Video of the Year".[45] It was also nominated for nine 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Direction. It won two, Best Rock Video and Best Editing.[46][47]

The song made VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s" list at number sixty-nine, and VH1's "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs" at number forty-eight.[48] In 2017, Spin ranked it as number one on their list of the 30 greatest nu metal songs of all time.[49]

In pop culture[edit]

"Freak on a Leash" has been featured in Puma commercials, The Simpsons episode "Stop! Or My Dog Will Shoot",[50] the video games Guitar Hero World Tour[51][52] and Guitar Hero Live in addition to appearing as downloadable content for Rock Band 3. In a 2016 episode of "Adam Ruins Everything" titled Adam Ruins Animals, a cartoon dog says, "I'm a freak! On a leash!"

Formats and track listings[edit]

Chart performance[edit]


Appearances in media[edit]


  1. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon (July 1, 2013). "Noisey vs. Metalsucks – Threaten My Family If You Must, But I Still Say Korn Rules". Vice.
  2. ^ "26 Nu Metal Workout Songs". May 28th, 2015. Retrieved on September 8th, 2015
  3. ^ Chesler, Josh (May 18, 2015). "10 Nu-metal Songs That Actually Don't Suck". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  4. ^ Grierson, Tim. "Top 10 Essential Alt-Metal Songs". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Please Love Them: They're Korn", Billboard, November 1998. p. 86
  6. ^ a b c Elias Pampalk (2001). "Islands of music: Analysis, organization, and visualization of music archives". Austrian Society for Artificial Intelligence: 2. CiteSeerX
  7. ^ Follow the Leader (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  8. ^ Arvizu 2009, p. 114
  9. ^ "Freak On A Leash: UK Single #1 " (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  10. ^ "Freak On A Leash: UK Single #2 " (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  11. ^ "Freak On A Leash: UK Limited Edition Cd " (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  12. ^ "Freak On A Leash: Mexican Radio Promo 1" (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  13. ^ "Freak On A Leash: Mexican Radio Promo 2" (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  14. ^ "Freak On A Leash: German Single #1" (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  15. ^ "Freak On A Leash: French Single" (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  16. ^ "Freak On A Leash: US Promo" (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  17. ^ "Freak On A Leash: Switzerland Single" (CD). Korn. Epic/Immortal. 1998.
  18. ^ Welch, Brian (2007). Save Me from Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story. HarperOne. pp. 101–142. ISBN 0-06-125184-4.
  19. ^ Furman 2000, p. 127
  20. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas "allmusic ((( Follow the Leader > Review)))". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-13
  21. ^ Guitar World Presents the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Hal Leonard. 2002. p. 137. ISBN 0-634-04619-5.
  22. ^ Lloyd, David (2000). "Mercury Models: Distortion of Language and Identity in New Heavy Metal" (PDF). Sofia: 3–4.
  23. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine "allmusic ((( Freak on a Leash [Australia > Overview )))"]. Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-06-28
  24. ^ Harris, Chris (2006-12-13). "Korn Quiet Down With The Cure, Amy Lee For 'MTV Unplugged'". MTV News.
  25. ^ a b (1999-02-04) "Korn "Freak" Video To Debut On Friday". MTV. Retrieved 2010-06-28
  26. ^ (1999-12-08) "Korn To Mix Animation And Live Footage For New Video". MTV. Retrieved 2010-06-28
  27. ^ Billboard. March 11, 2000. p. 7
  28. ^ Billboard. Mar 11, 2000. p. 79
  29. ^ Mancini, Robert (1999-09-09) "Korn, Lauryn Hill Among Early VMA Winners". MTV. Retrieved 2010-06-28
  30. ^ "ATRL - The TRL Archive - Recap: May 1999". ATRL. Retrieved 2010-08-12
  31. ^ "Track listing". Deuce (DVD). Korn. Sony/Epic. 2002.
  32. ^ Tunnell, Kenneth (2004). Pissing on demand: workplace drug testing and the rise of the detox industry. New York University Press. p. 137. ISBN 0-8147-8281-7.
  33. ^ "Follow the Leader by Korn - Download Follow the Leader on iTunes". iTunes. Retrieved 2010-06-15
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ Spin January 2000 p. 80
  38. ^ a b c "Korn > Follow the Leader: Charts & Awards: Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
  39. ^ "Accreditations - 1999 Singles". ARIA. Retrieved 2006-09-10.
  40. ^ "40 Greatest Metal Songs". VH1. Retrieved 2006-09-10.
  41. ^ "Debuts". The TRL Archive. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  42. ^ "Recap - February 1999". The TRL Archive. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  43. ^ "Hall of Fame". The TRL Archive. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  44. ^ "Number Ones". The TRL Archive. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  45. ^ Metal Edge. July 2000
  46. ^ Billboard. March 11, 2000. p. 7
  47. ^ Billboard. March 11, 2000. p. 79
  48. ^ " music". Archived from the original on August 27, 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2009.
  49. ^
  50. ^ "'The Simpsons' Stop or My Dog Will Shoot (2007)". ImDb. Retrieved 2008-09-25
  51. ^ Fahey, Mike (2008-09-12) "The Complete Guitar Hero World Tour Set List". Kotaku. Retrieved 2010-04-20
  52. ^ (2008-10-02) " 'Guitar Hero World Tour' Trailer Featuring ZAKK WYLDE Available" Archived 2008-12-05 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 2010-06-30
  53. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  54. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  55. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  56. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  57. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  58. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  59. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  60. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  61. ^ a b "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  62. ^ a b "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  63. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  64. ^ "Korn - Freak On A Leash". Discogs. Retrieved 2010-08-08
  65. ^ " – Korn – Freak on a Leash". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  66. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 69, No. 1, April 26 1999". Retrieved 2010-06-30
  67. ^ " – Korn Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  68. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Korn" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  69. ^ " – Korn – Freak on a Leash". Top 40 Singles.
  70. ^ Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK: Alex K - Kyuss". Zobbel. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
  71. ^ "Brazil" (PDF). ABPD. October 6, 2001. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  72. ^ a b c d "Korn > MTV Unplugged > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-02-23.


  • Furman, Leah (May 5, 2000). Korn: Life in the Pit. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-25396-6.

External links[edit]