If historians wish to list the classic rock bands that were born in the heart (no pun intended) of the nineteen seventies, Heart should be ranked close to the top. So many of the bands that have been ranked high on the all-time classic rock band list have their roots in the nineteen sixties. Heart was a true nineteen seventies born band. Their legacy includes music spanning four decades that includes drastic lineup changes, radical musical stylistic variations, and multiple record labels. However, in the end it has always been about the work of Ann and Nancy Wilson. The two musician have contributed greatly to pop culture. This list attempts to define some of the best Heart Songs of the band’s illustrious career.
# 10 – How Can I Refuse
Starting out the top 10 list of the best Heart Songs is a great piece of music released on the 1983 Passion Works Album. Heart’s “How Can I Refuse,” was the first single released from the Passion Works LP. The Passion Works album featured a new rhythm section of bassist Mark Andes. and former Sammy Hagar band drummer Danny Camassi. The new section delivered a harder and darker sound to the band and fueled the powerful edge that resonated throughout the record. Although the song “How Can I Refuse,” only reached No. 44 on the Billboard pop charts, it did reach No.1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts.
# 9 – Raised on You
Heart’s “Raised on You,” is possibly the least known Heart composition on the top 10 best Heart Songs list. The song was released on the 1980 Bebe le Strange LP. The song “Raised on You,” featured the very soulful vocals of Nancy Wilson. It is the first of two songs on the top 10 list which feature the lead vocals of Nancy Wilson. Standing alongside her sister Ann who is easily the greatest female rock vocalist of all time is no easy task. However, Nancy herself was also a wonderful rock singer. Nancy’s phrasings in her vocal performances delivered earnest emotional nuances that resonated with Heart fans and was so wonderfully welcomed. When listening to Nancy sing, one cannot help but believe in every word she sang.
# 8 – City’s Burning
The song “City’s Burning,” was released on the Heart album entitled Private Audition. The album was originally released in June of 1982. Throughout the 1990s, the album Private Audition became the rarest Heart album to find on CD. It was out of print for a very long time and often sold for over one hundred dollars on auction sites. The song “City’s Burning,” was the opening track on the LP The song also became one of the earliest Heart Songs to garnish heavy rotation on the MTV channel.
# 7 – Dog and Butterfly
Any fan of Heart would easily agree that the band was every much inspired by the sounds of Led Zeppelin. The Zeppelin inspiration would eventually be confirmed by Ann and Nancy through interviews. More obvious was the band’s choice to record their own cover versions of Led Zeppelin classics like “Rock and Roll, The Battle of Evermore and Misty Mountain Hop.” Both bands delivered soaring heavy rock and roll riff oriented songs. Those songs would always be matched on albums with acoustic tender love songs delivered with first hand guitar work, beautiful melodic lines, deep lyrical ideas and incredible passionate vocals. Heart’s “Dog and Butterfly,” is one of Heart’s most beautiful tender acoustic ballads that defined the late 1970s Heart sound and is an easy choice to be represented in the top 10 Best Heart Songs list.
# 6 – Even it Up
The song “Even It Up,” was the first and last Heart record to feature the legendary Tower of Power horn section. The album was a commercial success as it reached the top 10 on the Billboard Album charts in 1980. The album stayed on the charts for over six months in the early 1980s. Heart’s “Even It Up,” should be defined as one of the most enjoyable Heart songs ever released. The songs groove infused rhythm matched by Ann and Nancy’s delightful harmonies made for a killer track that became one the bands best recordings.
# 5 – Alone
Hearts song Alone was released on the Heart album Bad Animals. The song is easily the most commercial sounding of all the Heart songs on our top 10 Heart Songs list. However, Ann’s vocal on the track is simply mesmerizing and stands as one of best vocal performances of her career. As much as Hearts reputation was based on killer songs and hooks, there would have never attained the success they achieved without Ann’ killer vocal chops. The album Bad Animals delivered a nice collection of songs that featured Ann’s amazing vocal talent. The song Alone easily stood as the best tack on the Bad Animals LP.
# 4 – These Dreams
When Heart changed record companies in the mid-1980s and signed with Capitol records, their look and sound changed dramatically. One of the main reasons their sound was completely altered was that Capitol records utilized outside songwriters to supply the band with material to record. Many older Heart fans were turned off by the material which was written by industry songwriters who were pretty much sanctioned to write “pop hits,” The old Heart sound was gone and replaced by slick top 40 oriented rock and pop songs. One of the best songs that came out of that time period was recorded with Nancy Wilson on the lead vocal.
Released on the 1986 Heart album, the song “These Dreams,” has become an all-time favorite by Heart fans of all time periods. The songs was written by Martin Page and Elton John’s longtime lyrist, the legendary Bernie Taupin. It is simply astonishing to view the video of “These Dreams,” and see how dramatically different the band looked in 1987 when compared to 1977. Watch the video for “These Dreams,” and then take a look at the video for “Barracuda.” However dramatic the change of look and sound was, it was undeniably commercially successful. Heart’s “These Dreams,” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Charts in 1986.
# 3- Magic Man
Heart’s “Magic Man,” was the song that introduced the world to Heart. The song was released in 1976 as a single off their debut album Dreamboat Annie. As a sixteen year old at the time, I remember hearing the song on the radio standing out as something incredibly fresh and original. It was the sound of those opening guitar notes that made you drop anything you were doing at the time. Once Ann began to sing, all time and space disappeared for the next three minutes. It was simply a stunning debut that has never grown old or tired. It may not be their most popular song, but it is their most essential for the fact that it was the song that broke the band on an international level.
# 2 – Crazy on You
The fabulous Heart song “Crazy on You,” was released on Heart’s debut album in 1976. No other song better defined Heart’s signature sound of the blending of acoustic and electric styles like Heart’s song, “Crazy on You.” Nancy’s wonderful acoustic guitar opening leads the way into a dynamic electric guitar riff followed by a sweeping acoustic strum. Ann’s killer vocal delivered one of the most endearing song lyrics in rock and roll history. Like other Heart songs such as Magic Man and Barracuda, Heart’s “Crazy on You,” has become ingrained into popular culture and stands as one of the most important songs in the bands catalog.
# 1- Barracuda
Heart scored a major hit with the single “Magic Man,” from their debut album. So there was great anticipation for their follow up LP. The band did not disappoint their fans. In 1977, Heart released their second LP entitled, Little Queen. The album featured the song chosen as the No. 1 song on Top 10 Best Heart songs list. Hearts’ “Barracuda,” defined the Heart sound with one of the most iconic guitar riffs in rock and roll history. It is a song that has spanned generations and is probably their most well-known composition. It has been utilized in many films and television shows ranging from The Sopranos to NBC’s Chuck series. Younger generations of fan came to know the song by its use in countless video games including the once very popular Rock Star game.
The song became the center of controversy during the 2006 Presidential campaign when Ann Wilson objected to Sarah Palin’s use of the song” Barracuda,” to represent Palin’s personality which had been defined in many circles as a Barracuda.
Regardless of political controversies, film and television placements, and video games use, the song has been chosen to top the list simply because it’s their best work and one of the greatest songs to have been written and performed during the classic rock history era.
Updated Nov 11, 2020