Jun 10

Under Pressure’s famous bass-line

“Under Pressure” is a 1981 song recorded by Queen and David Bowie. It marked Bowie’s first released collaboration with another recording artist as a performer…

Under Pressure album cover

“…the song’s primary musical songwriter was Freddie Mercury — though all contributed to the arrangement. The earlier, embryonic version of the song without Bowie “Feel Like” is widely available…”

“The September 2005 edition of online music magazine Stylus singled out the bassline as the best in popular music history.”

“There has been some confusion about who created the song’s famous bassline. John Deacon said … that David Bowie had created it. … 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.”

It’s fun to think about how this confusion may have happened. Deacon and Bowie in his studio in Switzerland, chatting, with their lush English accents, about the song and sounds. Deacon, has his trusty bass guitar, Bowie, is singing or just bustin’ out some crazy-cool 80s synth-pop sounds. They’re jammin’ back and forth and suddenly, they strike rhythmic gold.

Bombombom bada bombom

Whoa! So they roll with it. Deacon plays the jam with the rest of Queen in a collaborative session with Bowie. History was made in a matter of minutes. Perhaps it was an epiphany of musical sorts, or maybe even an accident.

Both men involved credit the other out of modesty and respect. Likely, one was particularly more instrumental in the creation than the other. But without two, it may have evolved into something entirely forgettable.
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Dec 09

Final Fantasy VI’s Kefka & “Dancing Mad”

Kefka kackles Kefka‘s infamous rise to supremacy was the primary driving force in excelling FFVI’s story to the top of my all time greatest video game stories list. This maniacal villain is much akin to contemporary Batman’s Joker. Becoming the ultimate bringer of chaos, death and destruction is his only true unwavering motivation. But what makes him dynamic is that he is not simply a raving lunatic.

Upon attaining his pinnacle of power, he laments confusion for the very purpose of life, “why do people insist on creating things that will be inevitably destroyed?”  Which simultaneously infers that his power to obliterate will eternally triumph.  His phenomenal insanity is but one reason this demented clown consistently appears in top villain charts.

His final battle theme, Dancing Mad, is another.  This four movement composition, written by Nobuo Uematsu, is a work of unequivocal genius.  Each movement represents a different aspect of Kefka and exhumes more on FFVI’s deep storyline.  What has been said in dialog and actions performed by the characters is echoed and elaborated in song.  It is what all ending themes should strive for, a conclusion that summarizes from beginning to end and building towards the momentous climax.

A critical analysis of Dancing Mad, movement by movement, been written by a Destructoid community member.  He and I share a fondness of classical music from a young age, which is no doubt a prime reason for my reverence of this game.  His article, the music and the beast that was Kefka, were inspirations for this post.

Judge not based on the lack of depth of the instruments, these were 16-bit days after all. Though, if you really can’t get over that, there are orchestral versions out there. Personally, the originals strike a truly nostalgic chord.

Updated 2013-11-12 to fix links!