David Bowie and Freddie Mercury Isolated Vocalby Best Classic Bands Staff
One of the terrific trends of the past few years has been the release via YouTube of isolated vocals from some of our favorite classic rock songs. Such is the case with David Bowie and Freddie Mercury for their duet, “Under Pressure.”
The song came from sessions that Bowie was having with Queen in Montreux, Switzerland. In a 2008 interview with Mojo, Queen’s Brian May said: “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.”
As Best Classic Bands has noted in our 9 Signature Rock Classics That Weren’t Hits story, the 1981 collaboration seemed like a no-brainer for the record labels involved. Two of the biggest names in the British pop-rock landscape collaborating for one song. With an unbelievably catchy bassline, finger snaps, and powerful vocals from Bowie and Mercury, the only question was how many weeks would it log at #1. Though it did top the U.K. singles chart, the song inexplicably only reached #29 on the U.S. pop chart.
Thankfully, American audiences didn’t have to rely solely on Top 40 radio programmers to enjoy it and it’s been a classic rock radio staple ever since.
Our Classic Video as perhaps you’ve never heard it before, without that catchy bassline and familiar finger snaps…
Incidentally, when it came to producing a music video for the song, neither Queen nor Bowie were available due to touring conflicts. Director David Mallet, who had previously overseen the “Ashes to Ashes” clip for Bowie, and went on to direct his hugely successful “Let’s Dance” video, produced a video using footage largely from silent films.