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The song, Under Pressure, which appeared on the Queen album Hot Space, evolved from a jam session the band had with David Bowie at its studio in Montreux, Switzerland, therefore it was credited as co-written by the five musicians. According to Queen bassist John Deacon (as quoted in a French magazine in 1984), the song's primary musical songwriter was Freddie Mercury, though all contributed to the arrangement.

There has been some confusion about who created the song's famous bassline. John Deacon said (in Japanese magazine Musiclife in 1982, and in the previously mentioned French magazine) that David Bowie had created it. In more recent interviews, Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have credited the bass riff to Deacon; Bowie also said on his website that the bassline was already written before he became involved. In any case, the September 2005 edition of online music magazine Stylus singled out the bassline as the best in popular music history.

In 1999, a set of remixes of "Under Pressure" was commisioned as a single, with the so-called 'RAW Mix' as the main single version. The artists were credited as Queen + Bowie (or Queen / Bowie on some versions), in similar fashion to Queen collaborations prior and following this single (with Five, Wyclef Jean and Paul Rodgers, to name a few). The remix single was issued to promote the album "Greatest Hits III", which mainly featured collaborations, Queen hits released after Mercury's passing away and solo material by both Freddie and Brian. The "Under Pressure" single embarked on the holiday season of '99 by the inclusion of the non-album Christmas song "Thank God It's Christmas" and the classic 1975 version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" as B-sides. The updated version of "Under Pressure" maintains to be one of Queen's most successful remixes, far ahead of reworked mixes of "We Will Rock You", "Flash", and "Another One Bites The Dust", although the original version's usually being played on the radio. Quite remarkable was the video to "Under Pressure '99", which, for the first time, showed Queen and Bowie perform the song together (although this was accomplished through clever editing, rather than actual performance footage). The orginal 1980 music video was made using old motion picture footage and does not feature the artists.

Rapper Vanilla Ice sampled this song without permission for his biggest hit, the commercially successful Ice Ice Baby. His response to criticism relied upon the addition of one note not present in the original. No lawsuit was filed, but the band has said that Vanilla Ice settled out of court with Queen and Bowie.

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