David Bowie / Queen

Under Pressure

Composed by Brian May / David Bowie / Freddie Mercury / John Deacon / Roger Taylor

Song Review by

Memorably (for some) reinterpreted after ten years after the fact as Vanilla Ice's breakout single "Ice Ice Baby," "Under Pressure" found two contemporaries -- David Bowie and Queen -- collaborating for the first and only time on a great one-off single. Bowie himself feels more like the guest on the song, understandable given that it's Queen providing the musical backing, mixing the Chic-reminiscent bassline of John Deacon with piano and a lovely Brian May guitar melody. In ways the song is almost a reworking of "Bohemian Rhapsody," with a steady opening followed by a slightly different midsong break and then a final explosive ending, though with less tempo changes and a more focused approach. Freddie Mercury handles the higher vocals in his own inimitable way, delivering some classically bravura moments, while Bowie tackles the lower register to provide the perfect balance. Anthemic, showy and warm-hearted, it's a clear standout for both acts.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Greatest Hits [1981] 1981 EMI Classics 4:04
Hot Space 1982 Hollywood 3:57
Greatest Hits II 1991 Island / Universal Music 3:57
Innuendo [Promo Sampler] 1991 EMI Music Distribution 4:05
No Image 1992 Hollywood
The Singles: 1969-1993 1993 Rykodisc 4:01
The Singles Collection 1993 Parlophone 3:56
Grosse Pointe Blank 1997
Original Soundtrack
London / Deram / Motor / PolyGram 4:03
Alternative Biography 1997 Alter Ego
Now: 1981 1999
Various Artists
Virgin/EMI 4:04
Greatest Hits III 1999 Hollywood 4:08
Under Pressure Remix, Pt. 1 1999 EMI Music Distribution 3:46
The Singles Collection 2 2000 EMI Music Distribution 3:57
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 2 [Universal] 2000
Various Artists
Universal International 3:56
Greatest Hits: I II & III: The Platinum Collection 2001 Hollywood 3:55
Best of Bowie 2002 EMI Digital / Parlophone 3:56
Platinum 80s 2002
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:59
Gold 2003 EMI Music Distribution 3:58
The Best Pub Jukebox... Ever! 2004
Various Artists
Phantom Import Distribution / Virgin 3:34
Hollywood Cool 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:57
The Platinum Collection 2006 Parlophone 4:05
The Best of David Bowie 1980-1987 2007 Parlophone / Virgin / Warner Music 4:05
100% 80's 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:53
Absolute Greatest 2009 Island / Universal 4:03
Nothing Has Changed 2014 Parlophone 4:10
Now That's What I Call the 80s [2015] 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:05
No Image 2016 Sony Music 4:04
Sing [2016] [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2016
Original Soundtrack
Island / Republic 4:07
Fade to Grey: 1980-1984
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 4:04
Grand Collection WSM/Polystar 4:16
Now That's What I Call 20th Century
Various Artists
Now! 4:05
Now That's What I Call Drive
Various Artists
Sony Music / Universal Music TV 3:57
The Duets Album [UMTV]
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 4:05
The Eighties Album
Various Artists
Rhino 4:05
blue highlight denotes editor's pick