Queen – Under Pressure (Lyrics Review and Song Meaning)

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This song from Queen’s biggest catalog did not do well when the song was released in October 1981. However, you can see how well the song was received just 4 years later during the live performance at Wembley presented below. “Under Pressure” still lives on to this day as one of Queen and David Bowie’s finest works. Yes, this incredible track also had the touch of the late great “Starman”.

“Under Pressure” was included on Queen’s 1982 album “Hot Space” and has been included on many “greatest hits” since. The song has also been covered and sampled many times, most notably by Vanilla Ice in “Ice Ice Baby”. Vanilla Ice was sued for completely ripping out the lyrics to “Under Pressure” without credits. Queen and Bowie won the case and had their names included in the credits for “Ice Ice Baby” with compensation.

How “under pressure” was born!

According to Queen’s guitarist Brian May, David Bowie lived near Queen’s studio and had frequented the location. That night they had gone out to eat and drink. However, this was seriously understated as they were talking about a 24-hour party session steeped in drugs and alcohol. (Source: open culture)

Bowie later commented that he and Queen wrote the song on “a flat night” and it’s “quite an achievement” considering the massive impact the song has had on Pop/Rock culture.

Queen's David Bowie and Freddie Mercury under pressure

Queen’s David Bowie and Freddie Mercury (Image credits: m80radio)

Queen and David Bowie perform “Under Pressure”

Along with the amazing lyrics, you also get bonus vocal improvisations on the song. Freddie Mercury moved masses of crowds with this.


Download the song “Under Pressure” on iTunes and Amazon

Review of the lyrics and meaning of the song “Under Pressure”

“Under Pressure” has been interpreted in many ways over the years.

Most often, the song is said to be about the stresses of life itself. You have to study subjects you don’t even like for more than 10 years and then work in a menial office for the rest of your life. In the midst of this, you have to manage your family, educate the children, take care of your parents/grandparents, socialize, spiritualize and fulfill your own personal needs. It can be a lot of pressure on anyone.

Another interpretation of the song is that Queen and David Bowie write about the pressures of love. There is tremendous responsibility and sacrifice in love that can cause a person a lot of stress. Some song lyrics in later verses also support this argument.

Others think “Under Pressure” might have something to do with Freddie Mercury’s sexuality, which was a hot topic at the time. Freddie was bisexual and any type of sexual orientation other than “straight” was frowned upon and hated at the time this song was released. So artists could talk about how a member of the LGBT community would feel pressured into revealing their true sexual orientation.

Therefore, we will not limit our interpretation of the lyrics to a single track. We want you to keep an open mind and come to your own analysis of the song.

Introduction and Bridge

Vocal improvisations are incorporated into the lyrics of the song. Freddie Mercury these and other nonsense syllables on stage to do his vocal warm-ups and also engaged the crowd there. You can listen to over 2 minutes of Freddie’s vocal improvisations engaging over 90,000 fans live at Wembley Stadium in 1985.

Watch Freddie Mercury perform ‘Under Pressure’ live at Wembley Stadium in 1985

Verse 1

Freddie Mercury and David Bowie sing about the pressure, whatever its nature or cause, that falls on people. It’s not an easy thing to deal with, especially if you’re weak-willed and weak-spirited. One who maintains himself well can usually handle pressure well. Although pressure comes from outside, stress is something you create within yourself. So you have the choice to live stress free. But the pressure will always be there.

The line “No man asks” in the first verse supported claims about the song’s meaning regarding love.

The songwriters continue to explain the devastating results of the pressure in the first verse. It can tear families apart, break breadwinners, destroy childhoods, poverty and even suicide.

The more pressure a person absorbs, the more likely they are to snap. That is why a person needs a break, a hobby or a spiritual adventure from time to time.

Chorus

In these lyrics, Bowie and Mercury explain quite explicitly what they mean in this song. “It’s (the pressure) the terror of knowing what this world is…” In this sense, the song is about life in general and the stressors of everyday life. If we’re going to explain what the pressures and stressors of life are, you might be too young for this song.

The second line of the chorus of “Under Pressure” suggests that the song could be about love and marriage. This line says they see their good friends screaming “let them hang out”. Let them out of their marriage? Or let them out of the cupboards? The insinuation about homosexuality is also valid because Freddie Mercury had many homosexual partners who could be called “good friends”.

Freddie and Bowie can do little more than pray for a better day tomorrow. However, that doesn’t mean they’re praying for a stress-free day tomorrow. It’s more of a holistic hope for a better society, better humans, better understanding and better systems.


Other Queen’s Greatest Hits: “Love of My Life”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Radio Ga Ga”, “We Are the Champions”, “I Want to Break Free”.


Verse 2

“Chipping around” could mean lazing around. According to UrbanDictionary, it can also mean using heroin. Whatever the most likely meaning, both can be referred to as pressure results. Some might become dysfunctional and others might resort to temporary escapes such as drugs. Either way, your EQ would be splattered all over the floor.

“Rain” usually symbolizes the dark and gloomy nature of life. The singers say that these days it never rains, but it pours, which is sometimes worse than rain. It means extreme pressures put on a person. Freddie and Bowie could draw inspiration from their lives for this track or could reflect on the world around them. Whatever the case, “Under Pressure” is more suited to the 21st century than it was then. Therefore, the song endures.

Studio recording “under pressure”

Bridge

The singers say you might try to ignore these stressors like a “blind person.” Of the five gifted senses to man, sight gives us the most information. Therefore, a blind person would be impervious to most things happening around him. However, it is not a flawless plan. You can try sitting on a fence, because of your blindness, but that just won’t work. The pressure is common to everyone but in different denominations.

Queen and David Bowie offer “love” as a possible solution to undo the effects of “pressure” on people. But they also reveal that love can be so broken and twisted these days. Being a celebrity of the stature of Freddie Mercury of Bowie, they must have received love every hour of the day. But you have to be careful to filter it.

The “madness” could be the result of pressure. We see many people on the streets with weak minds that are the result of the pressures of unemployment, failure, unloving, etc.

Verse 3

Here, “love” could most likely be interpreted as all kinds of love for each other, including all forms of bisexuality, homosexuality, and even gendered individuals.

Both singers plead for true love to breed in this world and wash away the pressures of life. This is far from the case, who has not realized today!

Outro

Singers call “love” an old-fashioned word. This means that true love no longer exists. This is consistent with their argument that “love” will be of no help at this time.

True love would be boundless and boundless. This would allow people to care for each other, even those on the street, even those who don’t like you back, and even those with different sexual orientations than “straight”. True love is the answer, but alas, there is no more. So we keep dancing to the beat of the world, cracking, collapsing and breaking inside.

The majority of public shootings and massacres around the world in recent years can be seen as the result of extreme pressure.

Seemingly a catchy dance beat, “Under Pressure” has a deep-rooted meaning that serves the world. What do you think this song means? What do you think the artists were trying to say? Let us know in the comments below.

Queen’s “Under Pressure” Full Lyrics

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