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Nowadays, collaborations between Artists are a dime a dozen, with anyone who’s even remotely recognizable receiving a feature on every possible track within a year as a way of gaining popularity through market recognition rather than simply providing decent music to their audience. Back in the day, though, things were much different; If two groups came together to deliver a piece of music to the world, it was going to be unique & absolutely mind-blowing, otherwise they’d have never risked muddying their individual identities on the project to begin with – Enter “Under Pressure,” quite possibly the pinnacle of Classic Rock crossovers, featuring the hauntingly expressive voice of David Bowie alongside notoriously theatrical band Queen & their leading man Freddie Mercury. The origin of the infamous bassline which Vanilla Ice had stolen for his track “Ice Ice Baby,” this song rides on the wings of a simple riff, supplying a smooth rhythm for listeners to groove away to while Bowie, Mercury & the rest of the band add layer upon layer of additional instrumentation, forming a song whose presence grows at an uncontrollable rate through warm chord progressions & a sense of emotional evolution, filling you with anticipation at a faucet-drip pace until it all explodes with the brilliance of an entire world’s worth of human kindness; Bright guitar riffs & powerful piano melodies bloom with a euphoric sheen while drums & various other auxiliary instruments fill in the background with all manner of noises, creating life & character which play out cheerfully as sonic chatter behind wonderfully expressive vocalizations.
Speaking of, Bowie & Mercury are at their best here, delivering a vocal narrative that seeks to observe the faults in human nature, watching as people seem to ignore the world crumbling around them, content with giving up on life because it’s easier than forcing yourself to give a damn. Why? A lyric towards the end lays it out clearly by stating “because love’s such an old fashioned word and dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night […] dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves,” illustrating that the hardest part about caring for others is the realization that you have to show the same effort to everyone in your life, friend or foe, a style of living that many people just aren’t cut out for as a fear of “the other” seems to govern the very nature of human existence. Throughout all of this, the duo sling charismatic melodies that bend & break with theatricality & dramatic melodicism, crooning as if they were players upon the world’s stage, acting out the song in showtune fashion – It’s honestly one of their most inspiring performances, a whirlwind romance of songwriting excellence & melodic creativity that easily evokes feelings of compassion & hope which make you yearn for a better tomorrow, somewhat of a weapon of mass construction meant to cure the world of all its evils.

camjameson
Written by @camjameson from Extraneous Routes

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Song Info

"Under Pressure"

Songwriter

Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, David Bowie, Queen, David Bowie, Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, John Deacon, Brian May, Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, John Deacon, Brian May

Released

  • Jan 01, 2014

Formats

  • 7-inch single
  • 12-inch single
  • CD single
  • P7”
  • CD
  • Digital download
  • streaming

Label

  • EMI
  • Elektra
  • EMI
  • Parlophone
  • Virgin
  • EMI

Producer

  • Queen
  • David Bowie
  • Queen
  • David Bowie

Studio

  • Mountain Studios, Montreux

Genres

  • Rock
  • Rock
  • Alternative rock

Wiki

"Under Pressure" is a song by the British rock band Queen and British 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 (after 1975's "Bohemian Rhapsody", which topped the chart for nine weeks) and Bowie's third (after 1980's "Ashes to Ashes" and the 1975 reissue of "Space Oddity"). The song peaked at No. 29 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in January 1982, and would re-chart for one week at No. 45 in the US following Bowie's death in January 2016. It was also number 31 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s. It was voted the second best collaboration of all time in a poll by Rolling Stone magazine.
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