Best Songs With Great Bass Lines

By Brian

Lets face it, there are certain songs that you can listen to for solely one reason. That reason? The bass line in the song makes your day 100 times better. These songs with great bass lines are worth listening to over and again. To get started let’s take a look at some of these great songs.

My Generation – The Who

The Who - My Generation

John Entwistle, one of the most influential rock bassists of all time and he made his mark early with “My Generation”. This song was the first to prominently feature a solo from bass guitar on an otherwise fill heavy track; this paved the way for future generations who wanted their songs just as catchy without having any vocals or guitars at all!

Magic Man – Heart

“Magic Man” is a progressive rock song written by the group Heart and released on their self-titled debut album in 1974. The powerful intro riff was created when guitarist Roger Fisher played it wrong at rehearsal and singer Ann Wilson inverted it into a bass line for him to play better. With lyrics like “Come on, come on magic man/Come on and make me feel this way”, Wilson’s bass line is the perfect accompaniment to this very simple yet catchy rock song.

Black Dog – Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin - Black Dog (Live at Madison Square Garden 1973) (Official Video)

This hard blues rock track off of the album “Led Zeppelin IV” is very simple in its structure but is so hard-hitting it’s also the first song where the bassist, John Paul Jones, got sole credit. He says that he came up with this riff when his fingers “slipped” off of the neck of his bass guitar while playing a much slower riff in “Four Sticks”. Originally titled “The Lemon Song”, this song is a fantastic example of what you can do when you use two simple notes with the right tonality and timing.

Ballroom Blitz – Sweet

Sweet - The Ballroom Blitz - Disco/Promo Clip 27.10.1973 (OFFICIAL)

Written in 1973 by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman “Ballroom Blitz” was sung by vocalist Brian Connolly who’s raspy tone complimented the song’s hard-hitting bass line. The funky bass tone was created by putting the bass guitar through a wah-wah pedal and overdriving it. This is considered one of Sweet’s best songs ever due to its unprecedented use of keyboard, guitar, and drum solos as well as its pulse pounding bass line which helped dominate the song’s chorus.

Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations

Written by Brian Wilson, Mike Love and neighbor Gary Usher, this 1966 single was inspired by the dance scene in the movie “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” However it took nine months to record due to its complex layering of different instruments and the use of unorthodox instruments such as bicycle bells and a dog barking. This song features signature elements from The Beach Boys which include prominent vocal harmonies, 3 part Beach Boys blend, and musically adventurous bass line helped to launch this song into music history.

Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence (from The Concert in Central Park)

Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” was released in 1964 and is one of the most covered songs in pop music. The main riff is an A-minor 7th chord, which then goes to a G major 7th chord when the vocals come back in, but this time with a C sharp instead of the E natural. Paul Simon’s vocals and acoustic guitar playing is very mellow in this song but the bass line, like most songs on the list, really makes it catchy.

Soul Man – Sam & Dave

Sam & Dave - Soul Man (Official Audio)

This cover song originally written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter was released in 1967 by The duo Sam & Dave. This upbeat pop/soul track became an instant hit and was named the number one pop song in 1968. When it came to this song, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn knew that he had to do something special with the wah pedal because no other musical instrument could get away with being so rhythmic and funky at the same time. Duck’s funk lines are a huge part of why Soul Man is such a classic tune.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen

Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Official Video)

When recording this song from the album “The Game”, Queen had bass player John Deacon play this simple riff on his Rickenbacker 4001 through a Roland Jazz Chorus amp and a Boss CE-2 chorus pedal to get that funky guitar-like tone. The musicians on this track were not sure if it would be a good idea to play the riff so much throughout the entire song but thankfully they went with their instincts and ended up creating one of Queen’s most famous songs.

Crosstown Traffic – Jimi Hendrix

Cross Town Traffic

This is another popular cover by Jimi Hendrix. Written by soul singer Martha Reeves (of Martha and the Vandellas), this song was released in 1968 and has an incredibly funky, bluesy bass line that really gives it that “groovy” vibe. Hendrix’s rendition of this song is much more up-tempo than the original but his version still holds all of the same elements: a tight bass line and soulful lyrics.

School’s Out – Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper - School's Out (from Alice Cooper: Trashes The World)

This 1972 single was written by frontman Vincent Furnier (a.k.a. Alice Cooper) and longtime bandmate Dick Wagner who were inspired to write this song after spending their summer vacation watching the Watergate hearings on TV. Needless to say, this song has a very political tone and the bass line by Dennis Dunaway is another example of how his playing developed over time. If you listen closely, you can hear that he plays more notes than the other musicians and the way he holds them out makes it all sound so smooth and cool.

Le Freak – Chic

CHIC - Le Freak (Official Music Video)

“Le Freak” was released in 1978 by the disco band, Chic. Written by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, this song is well known for its bass line’s use of a “sliding” effect which allowed them to play two different notes at once. This sliding effect can be heard throughout the song but it stands out most when they play the sections with a chord progression of A-F#m-D.

Cecilia – Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel - Cecilia

This song was released in 1970 from their album “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Drinking tea, old cake, holiday bread, and a little bit of love all make for an interesting combination but it certainly makes for a great bass line as well. Paul Simon’s vocals are very mellow in this song but his bass line is loud and clear throughout the entire song which helps to make up for it.

Heart of Glass – Blondie

Blondie - Heart Of Glass

This song was released in 1978 by singer Deborah Harry (Blondie) with lyrics written by Chris Stein, who also played guitar and co-produced the song. Heart of Glass’s bass line is a perfect example of how a simple riff can go a long way. By adding just a few different notes here and there, Debbie Harry was able to create something that still sounds fresh today even though it uses typical disco beats and electronic drums from the 1970s.

Every Breath You Take – The Police

The Police - Every Breath You Take (Official Video)

Released in 1983 by this British rock band, “Every Breath You Take” has a very memorable chord progression that is supported by Sting’s low-pitched vocals. The song reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for four weeks. This iconic bass line by Sting was played with a Fender Precision Bass through an Ampeg SVT with 810 cabinets to create the famous tone that is known throughout many different genres of music.

Super Freak – Rick James

Rick James - Super Freak (Official Music Video)

This 1981 single by R&B singer Rick James is a great example of how you don’t need to play complicated bass lines for them to stand out. This song was originally an instrumental but after Rick James heard Eddie Murphy sing “You Are Too Fast” he decided that his next single should be a vocal one. After the song’s release, it ended up reaching number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also gained popularity throughout Europe.

Another One Bites the Dust – Queen

Queen - Another One Bites the Dust (Official Video)

Released in 1980, this is arguably one of the most well-known bass lines played by John Deacon. The song spent a total of eight consecutive weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009 with over two million digital downloads. It is best known for its simple repeating bass line which was written by John Deacon and played with a Fender Jazz Bass through a wah-wah pedal.

Crazy in Love – Beyoncé Featuring Jay Z

Beyoncé - Crazy In Love ft. JAY Z

This song, released in 2003 from their album “Dangerously In Love”, started out as a sample from the song “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” by The Sergio Mendes Trio. This song features the bass line prominently throughout and it is most noticeable when they play the A-G#m-D chord progression in the intro, chorus, and bridge.

What’s Love Got to Do With It – Tina Turner

Tina Turner - What's Love Got To Do With It (Official Music Video)

This song, released in 1984 from the album “Private Dancer”, is best known for its chorus and its famous bass line. With a bluesy feel and an extremely memorable bass line to match, this track reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also earned Tina Turner a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

Bad – Michael Jackson

This song, released in 1987 from the album “Bad”, is best known for its bass line which was written by Louis Johnson. This song reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went platinum in 1988. It also received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus.

Get Lucky – Daft Punk

Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Official Audio) ft. Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers

This song, released in 2013 from the album “Random Access Memories”, became a worldwide hit and it brought back disco into mainstream music. The song reached number 1 on the charts of over 30 countries and was also sampled by many other popular artists such as Flo Rida, Lil Wayne, Tyga, Chris Brown, and Soulja Boy. The bass line was played by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo on a Minimoog through an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer using the “Chorus/Flanger” preset.

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