You may recognize this song for its popularity in the movie industry through movies such as Stepmom, Grosse Blank Pointe, and the Heartbreak Kid. This song features David Bowie sharing vocals with Freddy Mercury on the 1982 Queen album, Hot Space. It is about the difficult task of coming out to your family and friends as a homosexual and how society should be more accepting of alternative lifestyles. The “pressure” that the song talks about is this inner turmoil of living a secret life and wanting to get out, but at the same time being fearful of how society and loved ones will react to the news. Freddie sings that this pressure is so great, that it can divide a family and break a home. This song not only hit home for Freddie, but also for society by its cry for social acceptance.
Under Pressure does a great job in providing a lyrical dialogue between Mercury and Bowie about an issue that remains a controversy today. It tells a story that I think many people in the gay community can relate to: whether or not to come out. During the song, Mercury says he has seen friends turn their backs and shut you out, “like a blind man” for announcing your sexual preference. He asks over and over “why can’t we give love that one more chance”, to which Bowie replies “’cause love is an old fashioned word”. Bowie is singing as the conservative side of the argument that does not support this lifestyle through responses such as “old fashioned word,” in which he means that traditional love is meant to be heterosexual in nature. The reply is that this thinking needs to change and people need to re-evaluate how they love and care for each other. The word “people” is used many times throughout the song for the purpose of ambiguity. The band is trying to say that all people should be loved and respected regardless of their sexual orientation.
Although it was semi-difficult to create the song with, not only the four band members of Queen (all capable of writing their own music), but also another artist attempting to write, the song was a success. The powerful message of having confidence to be who you are without fear is how the song earned its spot on this list.
Pay attention to the lyrics!—->https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuzmub5PXNQ