|Released May 6, 2008||Label Columbia|
|Format CD and digital download|
Recorded November 2006-April 2008 in Maui, Hawaii and Orange County, California
Genre Punk rock, skate punk, Melodic hardcore
Length 4:38 (Album version) 4:13 (Radio Edit)
"Hammerhead" is a song by American punk rock band The Offspring. The song is featured as the fourth track on the band's eighth studio album Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace (2008) and was released as the first single from the album. The song was first played at the Summer Sonic Festival in 2007. It peaked at No. 2 on the US Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.
The song was originally set to go to radio on May 6. However, the world premiere of the song took place on May 2 at 6 PM PST on KROQ Los Angeles (their hometown station). On May 5, 2008, The Offspring's official website released a free download of the song MP3 format, in much the same style as "Original Prankster" (from 2000's Conspiracy of One). To download it, users were required to provide an email address to receive a link to a high-quality MP3 of the track, which comes free of digital rights management.
According to singer/guitarist Dexter Holland, the lyrics are from the perspective of a gunman in a school shooting. This is supported by the closing lyrics "and you can all hide behind your desks now/and you can cry teacher come help me". Lead guitarist Kevin 'Noodles' Wasserman elaborated on this, stating that the lyrics describe a gunman who believes that everything he does is for the greater good - "take a life that others may live". He is affected by a huge force (Hammerhead - "it hammers in my head") in his mind that makes him deluded.
The official music video follows suit, alternating between the perspectives of the deluded shooter (who believes that he is a soldier) and that of the real world, often blending the two together. For instance, two children are shown tossing a "bomb" between one another, presumably simply a ball, while birds take the image of stealth fighters, and the shooter is consistently accompanied by the warped image of a military commander, presumably a personification of his military delusion.
There is also a Biblical reference to Psalm 23:4 through the lyrics "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me."
The band created a competition for fans of the band to create their own video for the song with their own original material. A YouTube group had been set up for this purpose. The band picked their favorite video and the winner received $10,000. The contest was only available to U.S. residents.
The music video was directed by Teqtonik and debuted on IGN's website on June 9, 2008 11pm UTC.
Reaction to the song has been generally positive. Describing it as a 'good harbinger' to base the album off of, Michael Roffman of Consequence of Sound also said that the song 'works lyrically', and that 'Holland hasn't sounded quite this sincere since the very best Americana had to offer'. Richard Cromelin of the Los Angeles Times also claimed that "Hammerhead" had the strongest lyrics of the album, and The Dreaded Press praised the song's 'hard-hitting drums' and Dexter's 'urgent howling' giving a 'surprisingly fresh' result. However, Chris Fallon of AbsolutePunk.net claimed that it was too long and Roffman later commented that 'uninspired riffs' resulted in a lack of enthusiasm from the song.
The song debuted at number five (based on airplay alone) on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks, making it the first song to debut on the top five of the Modern Rock Tracks since "What I've Done" by Linkin Park, and the band's highest debuting Modern Rock single. It went on to peak at number two for six weeks on that chart. It also debuted at number eighteen on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, peaking at number eight on that chart.