Friday Factoid: “Under Pressure”

queenbowie672–By Brandon

“Under Pressure” arose from a jam session between Queen and David Bowie in Switzerland in 1981. This is one potential explanation for the improvisational opening of the song (arguably seeming more improvisational when a choir is singing all the instrumental parts). Bowie was originally collaborating with Queen to sing backup on a song that ultimately did not include Bowie, out of dissatisfaction for his performance. This collaboration occurred in a period where many musical stars were partnering to release hit singles. All four members of Queen and David Bowie are equally credited as co-writers, although there are still some lingering disputes as to who developed the bass line, either John Deacon or David Bowie. The music video for the song contained footage of neither Queen nor David Bowie, as both were busy with their tour schedules; instead, the video uses stock footage to show the pressures of daily life. After this song was released in 1981, it was played at every live Queen concert until the group disbanded in 1986. It has been covered or sampled numerous times, perhaps most famously by Vanilla Ice in his song “Ice Ice Baby.” However, in this case permission for the sample was never obtained, and a settlement had to be reached well after “Ice Ice Baby” became a hit.