Queen and David Bowie - Under Pressure

Queen and David Bowie - Under Pressure

‘Under Pressure’ is a song by the British rock band Queen and singer David Bowie. Originally released as a single in October 1981, it was later included on Queen's 1982 album Hot Space. The song reached number one on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Queen's second number-one hit in their home country and Bowie's third, and charted in the top 10 in more than 10 countries around the world.

"Under Pressure" has received critical acclaim since its release, with multiple publications ranking it among Queen and Bowie's best songs and among the greatest songs of all time. The song has been described as a "monster rock track that stood out" on the Hot Space album, as well as "an incredibly powerful and poignant pop song". ‘Under Pressure’ was listed at number 31 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s, and voted the second-best collaboration of all time in a poll by Rolling Stone. In 2021, it was ranked number 429 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was played live at every Queen concert from 1981 until the end of the band's touring career in 1986. Live recordings appear on the Queen live albums Queen Rock Montreal and Live at Wembley '86.

‘Under Pressure’ was recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland, in July 1981. Queen, working on their 1982 album Hot Space, had been working on a song called ‘Feel Like’, but were not satisfied with the result. While they were there, David Bowie was also at Mountain recording his vocals for ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)’, the title song for the 1982 horror film of the same name. The artists ran into each other during the session. Bowie sang backing vocals for Queen's song ‘Cool Cat’, but his vocals were removed from the final song because he was not satisfied with his performance. Afterward, they worked together for a while and wrote the song. It was credited as being co-written by the five musicians.

David Bowie & Freddie Mercury

The scat singing that dominates much of the song is evidence of the jam-beginnings as improvisation. However, according to Queen bassist John Deacon (as quoted in a French magazine in 1984), the song's primary musical songwriter was Freddie Mercury – though all contributed to the arrangement. As Brian May recalled to Mojo magazine in October 2008, "It was hard, because you had four very precocious boys and David, who was precocious enough for all of us. David took over the song lyrically. Looking back, it's a great song, but it should have been mixed differently. Freddie and David had a fierce battle over that. It's a significant song because of David and its lyrical content." The earlier, embryonic version of the song without Bowie, ‘Feel Like’, is widely available in bootleg form, and was written by Queen drummer Roger Taylor.

‘Under Pressure’ was sampled by American rapper Vanilla Ice for his 1990 single "Ice Ice Baby". Vanilla Ice initially did not credit Bowie or Queen for the sample, resulting in a lawsuit that gave Bowie and Queen songwriting credit.

T-Shirt Sale

Labels – EMI, Elektra
Songwriters – Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, John Deacon, Brian May
Producers – Queen, David Bowie


[Intro: Freddie Mercury]
Mmm num ba de
Dum bum ba be
Doo buh dum ba beh beh
[Verse 1: David Bowie & Freddie Mercury]
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets
[Bridge: Freddie Mercury]
Um ba ba be
Um ba ba be
De day da
Ee day da- that's okay
[Chorus: David Bowie & Freddie Mercury]
It's the terror of knowing what this world is about
Watching some good friends screaming, "Let me out!"
Pray tomorrow gets me higher
Pressure on people, people on streets
[Verse 2: David Bowie & Freddie Mercury]
Day day de mm hm
Da da da ba ba
Chipping around, kick my brains around the floor
These are the days it never rains but it pours
Ee do ba be
Ee da ba ba ba
Um bo bo
Be lap
People on streets
Ee da de da de
People on streets
Ee da de da de da de da
[Chorus: David Bowie & Freddie Mercury]
It's the terror of knowing what this world is about
Watching some good friends screaming, 'Let me out'
Pray tomorrow gets me higher, high
Pressure on people, people on streets
[Bridge: David Bowie & Freddie Mercury]
Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love but it's so slashed and torn
Why, why, why?
Love, love, love, love, love
Insanity laughs under pressure we're breaking
[Verse 3: Freddie Mercury]
Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can't we give love that one more chance?
Why can't we give love, give love, give love, give love
Give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?
[Outro: David Bowie]
Because love's such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the (People on streets) edge of the night
And love (People on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves under pressure
Under pressure
Under pressure
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