In 1981, Queen and David Bowie teamed up for a song that would become immortal. “Under Pressure” continues to work, nearly 40 years later, because of its simple formula: It’s a duet, but it’s also got one of the best bass lines ever written and tons of claps and snaps, which make everything as sticky as possible. It’s wonderful.
The song’s a bold one to cover, but I used to rock the hell out to the My Chemical Romance and The Used version, which still absolutely rules. The latest pair to try their hand at it are Shawn Mendes and teddy<3 (the new stage name of Mendes’s longtime collaborator Teddy Geiger), and their version is a spindly, acoustic-led showcase for their powerful and singular voices, particularly Mendes’s.
While teddy<3 leads on the chorus, Mendes’s soaring raspy falsetto is the centerpiece here, even hitting Freddie Mercury’s iconic whistle-high note during the bridge. Geiger co-wrote Mendes’s biggest hits — including “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” and “Stitches” — and Mendes has spoken highly of her and of their partnership. But “Under Pressure” marks the first time they’ve been on record together, and they’re a perfect match.
Mendes added that they recorded their version “to honor Freddie, and for a cause really close to our hearts, to benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust in the fight against HIV/AIDS.” All profits from the song will go directly to the organization, which members of Queen founded after Mercury’s death from AIDS in 1991.
Stream their “Under Pressure” cover above, and purchase it here. Play it loud for maximum effect until Bohemian Rhapsody hits theaters on November 2 in the U.S.