Bass is the foundation of a song that adds depth and emotion to the melody, making it an essential part of any music genre. Over the years, numerous tracks have been recognized for their exceptional basslines that have made listeners’ hearts race and captivated their attention. In this article, we aim to explore some of the best bass songs that have stood out for their brilliant composition and powerful impact.
Among these exceptional tunes, we find classic rock anthems, groovy funk hits, and thumping electronic dance tracks in a wide range of genres that reflect the versatility of bass in music. Our discussion will include timeless tracks from the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jaco Pastorius, and Daft Punk, among others.
As we delve into the intricacies of these unforgettable bass songs, you’ll gain insights on what makes these specific compositions remarkable, understand the role of bass in defining a song’s character, and perhaps discover new tunes to add to your personal playlist.
N.I.B. – Black Sabbath
One of the best bass songs we recommend is “N.I.B.” by Black Sabbath. Released in 1970 on their debut album, this song showcases Geezer Butler’s powerful bass playing and has become an iconic piece of heavy metal history.
“N.I.B.” begins with a unique bass solo that immediately grabs the listener’s attention. Butler’s use of a wah-wah pedal adds to the distinct sound, and his complex fingerstyle technique sets a dynamic foundation for the rest of the track. The song then transitions into a heavy, chugging riff, with the bass playing an essential role in driving the rhythm forward.
Lyrically, the song explores themes of love from an unconventional perspective. With Ozzy Osbourne’s distinctive vocals layered on top of the steady bassline, the combination creates an unforgettable sonic experience. As a result, “N.I.B.” continues to be a favorite among bass players and fans of Black Sabbath.
The Lemon Song – Led Zeppelin
The Lemon Song, released on Led Zeppelin’s 1969 album “Led Zeppelin II”, is a stellar example of the band’s ability to blend blues and rock. It showcases John Paul Jones’ exceptional bass playing skills and seamlessly melds with the rest of the band’s performance. Featuring a catchy groove and powerful lyrics, The Lemon Song has long been admired by bassists around the world.
We find that the song’s bassline is quite intricate and full of rhythmic diversity. The way that Jones utilizes techniques such as slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs brings a sense of depth and complexity to the track. This complexity not only demands attention but also demonstrates Jones’ mastery over the instrument.
The Lemon Song borrows from several classic blues songs, including Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” and Robert Johnson’s “Travelling Riverside Blues.” The result is a powerful track that pays homage to the blues tradition while forging its own unique identity within the world of rock.
Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
“Ramble On” is a classic track from Led Zeppelin’s second album, released in 1969. It features the band’s signature blend of rock, blues, and folk styles, with John Paul Jones on bass, creating a rhythm section that lays the foundation for Jimmy Page’s electrifying guitar work and Robert Plant’s soaring vocals.
One of the key elements of the song is its bassline, which perfectly complements the melody and adds depth to the track. The bass riff in “Ramble On” is characterized by its dynamic and melodic qualities, which play an essential role in enhancing the overall feel of the song.
Schism – Tool
Schism by Tool is an iconic rock song released in 2001 as part of the album “Lateralus.” The song is known for its intricate bassline, which plays a central role in the track’s progression. As fans of music and bass aficionados, we appreciate how this song showcases the prowess of Tool’s bassist, Justin Chancellor.
The bassline in Schism serves as the backbone for the entire song, with its distinct melody and rhythm. It features a captivating, syncopated riff that commands attention and pushes the song forward. The powerful bass tone and tight performance highlight the technical skill required to play this masterpiece.
Aside from the impressive bassline, Schism also demonstrates exceptional musicianship as a whole. The song weaves together unconventional time signatures and complex rhythmic patterns, showcasing the band’s ability to innovate and challenge the conventional norms of rock music.
Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz
“Feel Good Inc.” is a song by the British virtual band Gorillaz, released as the lead single from their second studio album, Demon Days, in 2005. The track features the distinctive bassline played by the band’s bassist, Murdoc Niccals, which has become synonymous with the band’s sound. As the title suggests, the bass-heavy song creates a feel-good atmosphere, making it one of the best bass songs to enjoy.
Aeroplane – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Aeroplane, released in 1995, is one of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ most iconic bass-driven songs. This infectious track features the inventive bass playing of Flea, who showcases his signature style that blends funk, rock, and slap bass techniques. The song also features memorable guitar riffs, powerful drumming, and Anthony Kiedis’ distinctive vocal delivery.
Another notable aspect of Aeroplane is its dynamic composition. The song switches between energetic verses and a more laid-back, melodic chorus, giving listeners a nice contrast that keeps the track engaging. Additionally, the song’s lyrics revolve around the theme of seeking solace and escape from life’s problems, which many listeners can relate to.
Roundabout – Yes
“Roundabout” is a classic rock song by the British progressive rock band Yes, released in 1971. The track is memorable for its distinctive bassline, played by Chris Squire, coupled with its virtuosic musicianship and complex arrangement.
The song showcases Squire’s unique ability to harmonize his bass playing with the melodic aspects of the composition. The use of a Rickenbacker bass adds to the song’s unique sound, providing a clear and bright tone. Additionally, the bassline features intricate rhythmic patterns that demonstrate both technical skill and creativity.
Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson
“Smooth Criminal” is a classic Michael Jackson track with an undeniably catchy bassline. The song was part of his 1987 album, “Bad,” and quickly became one of his most recognizable hits. Known for its dance-infused grooves and iconic bass riff, “Smooth Criminal” showcases Michael Jackson’s ability to seamlessly blend pop, funk, and rock music in a captivating way.
What really stands out in “Smooth Criminal” is the interplay between the bass guitar and the sharp, staccato horn section. This creates an effect that not only supports the rhythm but also adds a sense of urgency and excitement to the song. As a result, “Smooth Criminal” remains a perfect example of how a well-crafted bassline can elevate a song, making it an essential jam for any bass enthusiast.
No Scrubs – TLC
No Scrubs is a song by the American girl group TLC, released in 1999 as the lead single from their third studio album, FanMail. The song is recognized for its catchy, upbeat melody and lyrics that discuss the importance of self-worth when it comes to relationships, specifically addressing “scrubs” or men who are unable to provide or contribute to a relationship.
We can’t talk about the best bass songs without mentioning No Scrubs. The distinctive bassline in the song creates a groovy and infectious beat, making it impossible not to dance along. Produced by Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs, this track showcases the perfect blend of R&B and pop elements, ensuring its widespread appeal.
Not only is the bassline catchy, but the song’s message is empowering as well. Through the vocals of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, combined with the rapped verse by the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the song encourages women to know their worth and not settle for a partner who doesn’t treat them with respect. The lyrics are strongly emphasized by the track’s production and instrumentation, making it a true bass masterpiece.
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Seven Nation Army, released in 2003, is an iconic song by the American rock duo The White Stripes. This song features one of the most recognizable basslines in music history. The powerful and driving bass riff has become an anthem in various sports events and has been covered by numerous artists in the music industry.
The song, written by Jack White, showcases his prowess on the guitar. Interestingly, it’s actually not a bass guitar producing the famous riff, but rather a semi-acoustic guitar with an octave pedal, giving the unique sound that remains widely popular to this day. This clever use of effects adds to the song’s mystique and impact.
Stand by Me – Ben E. King
“Stand by Me” is a timeless classic by singer-songwriter Ben E. King released in 1961. Generally considered as one of the best bass songs ever, this soulful tune has captivated generations of music lovers. The song is written in the key of A major and has a 4/4 time signature, allowing for a smooth and groovy bassline that perfectly complements King’s iconic voice.
The bassline for “Stand by Me” was played by Lloyd Trotman, an incredibly talented bassist who contributed to the top hits of several artists during his time. Trotman’s bassline draws from the gospel and blues genres, giving the song a powerful and emotional foundation. What really sets this bassline apart is its simplicity, serving as a perfect example of ‘less is more’. The bassline primarily consists of arpeggios of the chords, using the root, 5th, and octave notes, creating a melodic and memorable rhythm throughout.
Hysteria – Muse
Hysteria, released in 2003 as a single from Muse’s third studio album, “Absolution,” showcases a driving bass line that captures the listener’s attention. The bass guitar takes the center stage in this song, combining intricate rhythms and melodic licks that make it a prime example of what a great bass song should sound like.
The opening riff in “Hysteria” serves as the foundation for the song, setting the tone for its aggressive and energetic nature. Throughout the track, the bass line remains prominent, contrasting with the soaring vocals and providing balance to the arrangement.
We believe the technical prowess displayed by bassist Chris Wolstenholme is a testament to the song’s impact and popularity among bass players. The bass pattern showcases a wide range of techniques, from fast finger picking to hammer-ons and pull-offs, that contribute to the song’s distinctive sound.
Good Times – Chic
“Good Times” is a song we believe truly showcases the power of bass in music. Chic, the band famous for its distinctive disco and R&B sound, released this timeless classic in 1979. With its infectious groove, “Good Times” quickly became a dance floor favorite.
What makes “Good Times” particularly impactful is its influence on later genres of music. Its bass riff has been borrowed and repurposed by numerous artists across various styles, such as hip hop, funk, and pop. For example, the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” often recognized as one of the first rap songs, used this bassline as its foundation.
Under Pressure – Queen & David Bowie
“Under Pressure” is a remarkable collaboration between the legendary Queen and iconic David Bowie. Released in 1981, this song delivers not just outstanding vocals, but a captivating bassline that remains unforgettable to music lovers. Through its distinctive melody, “Under Pressure” showcases the power of bass in adding rhythm, energy, and depth to a composition.
Right from the beginning, the bassline grabs the listeners’ attention. John Deacon, bass guitarist of Queen, crafted the simple yet highly effective bass riff that became the foundation for the entire song. This four-note riff repeats throughout the track, demonstrating the importance of a single, well-crafted bassline in a song’s success.
In addition to the iconic bass riff, the song’s arrangements highlight how bass can blend with other instruments. The layering of vocals by Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, along with Brian May’s guitar, and Roger Taylor’s drums, create a rich tapestry of sound. The bass seamlessly complements these elements to produce a cohesive musical masterpiece.
Funky Town – Lipps Inc.
“Funky Town” is a classic disco hit released by Lipps Inc. in 1979. This song showcases strong bass grooves that dance music lovers can’t get enough of. The driving bassline, combined with catchy vocals, make it a must-have on any list of best bass songs.
Money – Pink Floyd
Money is a classic track from Pink Floyd’s iconic 1973 album, “The Dark Side of the Moon.” As one of the best bass songs of all time, it showcases Roger Waters’ bassline mastery, providing a funky, irresistible groove that effortlessly carries the song forward.
With a time signature of 7/4, the song’s unconventional rhythm sets it apart from typical rock songs of the era, further emphasizing the importance of bass in the overall composition. This unique time signature allows the bassline to weave in and out of the beat, creating a hypnotic effect that lures the listener in.
One of the reasons this song is so admired by bass players is that it offers an excellent platform to exercise creativity and improvisational skills. There’s plenty of room for interpretation, giving bassists a chance to experiment with different techniques and approaches, such as slapping, palm muting, and even harmonics. Consequently, Money has become a staple cover song for countless artists and bands, showcasing the prowess of the bass guitar across various genres and styles.
Come Together – The Beatles
“Come Together” is a song by The Beatles that features a prominent bass line played by Paul McCartney. Released in 1969 as the opening track on their album “Abbey Road,” the song showcases the band’s artistic evolution and versatility. It is celebrated for its unique blend of rock and blues influences, catchy melody, and memorable lyrics.
In crafting this iconic bass line, McCartney employed innovative techniques that strongly influenced modern bass playing. He made use of slides, syncopation, and carefully placed accents to create a rhythmic and melodic backbone that highlights the song’s essence. As a result, “Come Together” is highly regarded among bassists and often considered a must-learn piece for aspiring players.
Super Freak – Rick James
When it comes to bass-heavy songs, we cannot overlook “Super Freak” by Rick James. Released in 1981, this funky classic remains a must-play for anyone who appreciates a good bass line. This track combines catchy lyrics with a groovy, infectious beat, making it impossible not to dance along.
As a masterpiece of funk and dance music, “Super Freak” demonstrates the power that a strong bass line can have on a track. The song’s lasting popularity and impact on later artists only serve to reinforce its status as one of the best bass songs in music history.
Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
“Another One Bites the Dust” is a popular song by the British rock band Queen. Released in 1980, this song has a distinctive, driving bassline crafted by the band’s bassist, John Deacon. The pulsating rhythm and funk-infused sound have made it a go-to track for bass enthusiasts.
We recognize this song’s importance as it showcases the bass guitar’s potential in driving the musical composition and defining the overall atmosphere of a track. The combination of the bassline and the steady drum beat provides a perfect backdrop for Freddie Mercury’s incredible vocal performance.
Not only does it highlight the essential role the bass plays in modern rock music, but it also serves as an excellent example of John Deacon’s talent as a bassist and songwriter. Throughout the song, Deacon showcases his ability to create infectious grooves and memorable basslines that stand the test of time.
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
“Billie Jean” is one of Michael Jackson’s most iconic songs. Released in 1983 as part of his legendary album “Thriller,” this track showcased his ability to create catchy tunes with a unique bass line.
“Billie Jean” also features a tight and funky drum groove that perfectly complements the bass, creating a solid rhythmic foundation for the song. The synergy between these elements helped propel “Billie Jean” to the top of the charts and solidify its status as a classic in the annals of pop music.