"Under Pressure" is a 1981 song by Queen and David Bowie. It marked Queen's first released collaboration with another recording artist, and is featured on their 1982 album Hot Space. The song reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart. It was also number 31 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s.
Bowie had originally come to the studios in order to sing backing vocals in another Queen song, "Cool Cat," which would end up being edited out since he wasn't satisfied with them. Once he got there, they worked together for a while and wrote the song. In the song, Freddie Mercury sings the high vocals, and David Bowie sings the low ones.
The first title found for this song was "People on Streets". It then became "Under Pressure".
Roger Taylor was frequently rumoured to be the song's chief writer. However, it appears that he served more as an intermediary for Mercury and Bowie (two of rock music's biggest stars at the time), being friends with both men. Taylor was involved in the production of the track and did some preliminary mixes with Bowie in New York, but Bowie was unsatisfied with these results and wanted to re-record everything (as claimed by May on a November 1982 interview for IM&RW magazine) In the end, the final mix was done with the involvement of Mercury and recording engineer Mack, under pressure from Bowie and Taylor (according to Brian May in the same 1982 interview).
Although very much a joint project, only Queen incorporated the song into their live shows at the time. Bowie chose not to perform the song before an audience until the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, when he and Annie Lennox sang it as a duet (backed by the surviving Queen members). However, since Mercury's death and the Outside tour in 1995, Bowie has performed the song at virtually every one of his live shows, with bassist Gail Ann Dorsey taking Mercury's vocal part. The song also appeared in setlists from A Reality Tour mounted by Bowie in 2004, when he frequently would dedicate it to Freddie Mercury. Queen + Paul Rodgers have recently performed the song as well. While Bowie was never present for a live performance of the song with Mercury, Roger Taylor instead filled for back-up vocals usually in unison with Mercury as Mercury would take over most of Bowie's parts.
Famous bass-playster Gail ann Dorsey superbly took over the high parts when she plays with Bowie.
This remixed version (the "Rah Mix") was issued in December 1999 to promote Queen's Greatest Hits III compilation, reaching #14 in the UK singles chart.