You can never understand songs with good bass. Even if the lyrics are trash, the presence of an amazing baseline makes listeners forgive poor vocals or a silly plot in a song. So, in this article, we’re going to provide a list of ten songs that we think really have amazing bass that you’ll love—whether you’re chilling at home or driving in the car.
Songs with Good Bass You’ll Love
Let’s begin with the Red Hot Chili Peppers!
Give It Away by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Is it even legal to bring up bass without mentioning Flea?
This top ten list could easily be chock full of Chili Peppers songs, but if we’re picking only one, then we give it to “Give It Away” from 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Not only is it a great song with a killer bass part, but it also was the first number one single for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their first top ten hit in the UK.
Flea’s in-your-face walking bass emanates pure funk while Frusciante’s twangy guitar leads tickle your spine. The song was originally conceived during a jam session between the two, but the Chili Peppers really drive it home with Chad Smith’s heavy kick and Anthony Kiedis’ iconic rapid-fire refrain of “give it away, give it away, give it away now.”
This bass tune has basically achieved legendary status.
Bad Guy by Billie Eilish
Indie pop icon Billie Eilish had achieved some level of stardom when she first debuted in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2019’s album drop, and the popular “Bad Guy,” that catapulted her into the center of the limelight.
With a devious deep bass driving the subdued but infectiously catchy beat, “Bad Guy” became Eilish’s first number one hit on the US Billboard, garnering her national attention, six Grammy nominations, and inspiring a collaboration with pop singer Justin Bieber.
What makes “Bad Guy” so masterful is not just the sinister sounds and nefarious ambience, but it’s the restraint. With an expertly crafted buildup, Eilish could’ve erupted into a high treble chorus to fit a perfect formulaic pop cookie cutter template. But she doesn’t. Instead, her words drone out and break up, like a cell phone with bad reception.
She’s “the bad guy. Duh!”
Check the Rhime by A Tribe Called Quest
Back in the days on the boulevard of Linden, a wholesome hip hop crew spreading messages of positivity and individuality was formed. Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, and Jarobi White formed A Tribe Called Quest and enjoyed mainstream success and a massive underground following in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
“Check the Rhime” features back and forth vocals from main rappers Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, promoting themes of staying true to oneself and remaining skeptical towards record label bigwigs that seek to exploit artists. It’s a great message, but the real takeaway is the juicy bassline that drives the song forward.
Seriously boost those subs for this classic hip hop tune.
- You Also Might Like: Best Classic Hip Hop Albums
People of the Sun by Rage Against the Machine
As frontman Zachary de la Rocha advises in the lead-in to the song, “Better turn the bass up on this one.”
He’s not joking. The opening track of 1996’s Evil Empire comes in strong and doesn’t let up, featuring more of the trademark hip hop metal fusion they would later be attributed with inventing and perfecting.
Tom Morello introduces the tune with another unusual riff, created by dragging a metal cable or Allen key across the strings instead of actually playing the instrument, but the song really takes off when bassist Tim Commerford slides in with a walking bassline that establishes a firm groove.
Although this album’s second track, “Bulls on Parade,” would hog the spotlight, we highly recommend starting the album from the top and letting “People of the Sun” play with the bass turned all the way up.
Jerry Was a Racecar Driver by Primus
There are some bassists that build a groovy melody and drive it forward with the drummer. Then there are monsters with technical bass chops that are so prodigious, they envelop the entire song and become the main attraction.
No list of best bass songs could be complete without mention of Les Claypool of Primus. His use of full chords, expert picking techniques, slides, taps, and other virtuoso techniques is an artform in and of itself. Musicians and fans alike could feasibly watch Claypool play all day long.
Claypool employs a number of these techniques on “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver,” Primus’ arguably most popular song, providing a bizarre but oddly catchy melody amidst wailing guitar shrieks and furious snare drum driving it all forward.
If you have never listened to Primus, be warned that they are unconventional, unusual, and otherwise odd on many levels. If you remain undeterred by this warning, you will experience some of the most underrated music out there.
Longview by Green Day
Green Day’s Dookie was not their first album, but it is the one most often attributed with the start of their wild success and often regarded as the first “true pop punk album” by fans and publications alike.
“Longview” is a memorable tune known for its lyrics about an unmotivated youth struggling to harness his potential in a world of distractions and disappointments, but it’s also instantly recognizable thanks to the jaunty and acid trip-inspired bass riff courtesy of Mike Dirnt.
The verse keeps vocals front and center as drummer Tre Cool jives with the bassline, allowing Billie Joe Armstrong to narrate his story undisturbed until busting his distorted guitar out for a killer chorus.
YYZ by Rush
Although Rush’s instrumental “YYZ” received less radio play than classics like “Tom Sawyer,” die-hard Rush fans know that the musicianship displayed by all three members of the band is unparalleled and demonstrated expertly on this track.
Geddy Lee is the undisputed bass master of prog rock, and arguably the best of all time. “YYZ” is a playful tune that allows each musician to trade phrases with one another. The three establish a nice groove throughout the song and punctuate each measure with a quick and slick bass lick, full-bodied drum fill, or resonating riff from the guitar.
Drummer Neil Peart would reveal in an interview that the song was named for YYZ, the airport code for Toronto Pearson International Airport, was in fact about airports or, more specifically, the emotions of leaving loved ones and reuniting with them.
Whatever the subject matter, Geddy Lee shows some serious bass chops on this track.
Roundabout by Yes
Prog rock legends Yes provide a master class on “Roundabout” on how the whole can be exponentially greater than the sum of all parts.
Chris Squire’s bass line is the backbone of the tune, noodling up and down the fretboard with levity and clarity that places it among the best and most pronounced bass sections of all time. However, the impact is further amplified by the somber clean guitar chords, keyboard fills, and captivating vocal harmonies.
With an 8:29 runtime, “Roundabout” is no quick ditty, but a masterful buildup and breakdown. Squire ups the ante following a swanky keyboard section by tremolo picking his bass up and down the fretboard for more bombastic bass beats.
The breakdown gives each musician their chance to shine before building up to a high, culminating in a crescendo, and dropping right back into a vocal and bass combo that is equivalent to musical ecstasy.
Even if you don’t smoke, you may need a cigarette after that breakdown.
The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
Classic rock legends Fleetwood Mac created a timeless masterpiece with “The Chain.” It was featured on the band’s magnum opus Rumours, written by Stevie Nicks about the decline of her relationship with fellow bandmate Lindsey Buckingham.
The song rolls in like tumbleweed through a Western ghost town, featuring arpeggiated and layered guitars, thumping bass and bass drum that pulses through the tune like a heartbeat, and robust vocal harmonies that made Fleetwood Mac one of the best in the game during that time.
For 3 minutes, “The Chain” saunters forward at a consistent mid-tempo rhythm when suddenly all instruments drop out. All you hear is a quiet drum roll on the snare drum from Mick Fleetwood when John McVie’s iconic bassline enters the mix. It’s simple, catchy, and it’s all you hear piercing through the snare strikes as the drum roll increases in volume. Buckingham strums a chord, quietly at first but with an increasing volume and presence as Fleetwood’s drum roll reaches its top volume and crashes down with the cymbal.
There’s a reason Fleetwood Mac’s outro in “The Chain” is well-known, well-regarded, and very well may be the best arrangement they’ve ever put forward.
- You Might Also Like: The 10 Best Rock Albums to Own on Vinyl
Forgot About Dre by Dr. Dre featuring Eminem
In terms of the top bass songs, you just can’t forget about Dre!
He was already an incredibly accomplished rap artist and highly successful producer when his famed album 2001 dropped featuring the lead single “Forgot About Dre” with Eminem.
The staccato strings start the song alongside a thick and meandering bass melody and provide a perfect backdrop for Dr. Dre’s trademark rhymes. Because of his massive successes through the 90’s, Dre had been accused by fans of selling out, and he uses “Forgot About Dre” to address and dismiss these critics.
Despite his fame and fortune, he reminds the critics that he’s still from the streets of Compton and still demands the same respect and street cred that he brought on 1992’s The Chronic.
Whether it’s a bumping bass drum blasting through your subwoofers or a slap bass riff that tickles your spine, songs with good bass make our favorite songs memorable for years and years.
You Might Also Like: