Turn up your subwoofer and boost the bass on the best bass songs we could find. Whether you’re a bass lover or just want to test your new speakers, there’s a song for everyone, across all genres. Add these to your playlist and take your subwoofer for a ride.
“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen
Queen bassist John Deacon not only came up with the iconic bass riff lying at the center of this song, but he played most of the instruments as well. This track was a huge crossover hit with the disco audience. Its spare production highlights a funky, in-the-pocket riff that will stay in your head for days.
“The Old Man’s Back Again” by Scott Walker
Walker was a vocalist who left his teen audience in the mid-1960s in search of a more ambitious sound. Taken from the 1969 cult classic Scott 4, “The Old Man’s Back Again” features a sinuous bass line that bobs and weaves throughout. Almost a touch too busy, it nonetheless grounds this mid-tempo tune, making it a late-1960s rock classic.
“My Generation” by The Who
John Entwistle was one of the most influential rock bassists of all time. He also made his mark early. “My Generation” was the first rock tune to prominently feature a bass solo. At its core a walking bass line, Entwistle’s fluid embellishments proved the perfect accompaniment to guitarist Pete Townshend’s slashing down strokes and feedback. One could make the case that hard rock starts here.
“Down with the Bass” by fIREHOSE
Perched somewhere between jazz, rock, and funk, Mike Watt’s style has influenced two generations of alternative musicians. Taken from his band’s 1991 release Flying the Flannel, “Down with the Bass” provides a great introduction to his highly expressive and inventive technique. Starting with an almost slap-bass funk feel, the tune provides a showcase for Watt’s seemingly inexhaustible talent for coming up with remarkable riffs—one after another.
“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly & The Family Stone
Sly Stone’s secret weapon may well have been his bass player Larry Graham. A consummate soul and R&B player, Graham made a major contribution to funk with this single, a 1970 hit for the band. Graham here invents what would be later known as the “slap bass” style of playing, one that incorporates a percussive and rhythmic style. This technique has become instantly recognizable as an essential foundation of funk. It’s hard to imagine Bootsy Collins or Flea without thinking of Graham’s influence.
“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
A member of Motown’s house band, the Funk Brothers, James Jamerson played on many of its biggest hits. No less than Bass Player magazine rated Jamerson at the top of their 2017 list of greatest, most influential bassists. While he was the linchpin behind some of Motown’s most danceable hits, he also drew on his jazz background, introducing chromatic runs and inversions. Nowhere is such sophistication more prominent than in his playing on this Marvin Gaye classic.
“Coming Up” by Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney is so multi-talented that it easy to forget how his innovative bass lines helped turn bass guitar into a lead instrument. His catalogue is rich in great bass-lines and playing, but sometimes his simplest riffs are the best. Much of the appeal of this 1980 single lies in its addictive, fat-but-spare riff. It’s a bit too melodic for disco or funk, but fits in perfectly alongside either as a dance-floor filler. John Lennon—never over generous in praise—agreed, calling this one of Paul’s best songs in an interview given as “Coming Up” climbed the American charts.
“Lovely Day” by Bill Withers
This gorgeous 1977 single has seen a welcome renaissance due to its use in an insurance commercial. Withers needs no introduction, for he remains one of the most gifted soul and R&B vocalists ever. Considering his bravura performance here, it’s easy to overlook the rest of it, but you shouldn’t. Note how Jerry Knight’s bass-lines shadow Withers’ vocals, providing a subtle shading with a hint of funk. The song would not be the same without it.
“Badge” by Cream
British band Cream may be remembered for being blues and acid rock trailblazers with wild and improvisational live sets, but there is a surprising amount of plain good songs scattered throughout their catalogue. “Badge” was one of their last singles and proved a moderate hit. It starts with Jack Bruce’s haunting bass riff, and it can be said that Bruce’s fluid bass carries the tune. It sounds simple—until you listen carefully. While melodic and fairly basic (for a Bruce bass-line, that is), it also reveals his training as a jazz player.
“Licking Stick, Licking Stick” by James Brown
Any number of James Brown classics could make this list. This is a lesser-known 1968 single featuring Timothy Drummond on bass. While holding down the bottom admirably, his syncopation has a playful swing that is unusual for a James Brown song. The result is a memorable—but no less worthy—departure from the tight, taut funk that was Brown’s signature sound.
Hysteria – Muse
“Hysteria” is most well-known for the intricate basslines featured throughout the song. The song is sometimes better known as “Hysteria (I Want It Now)” as that was the full title on the US release of the song. It’s one of the most iconic riffs throughout all of Muse’s songs.
The alternative rock band has a rather unique sound that can’t be confused for anyone else. This song has one of the best basslines of all time. Muse is still considered a somewhat niche band, but “Hysteria” still got a decent amount of media usage so it’s one of those songs that a lot of people don’t know that they know.
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons’ popular breakthrough single “Radioactive” has a chill vibe and strong lyrics that are backed by heavy bass. The song has limited accompaniment but the bass part comes through strongly.
The alternative rock single spent more consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 than any other song in the history of the chart. Imagine Dragons hasn’t seen quite the level of success since the release of the beloved song “Radioactive.”
Yeah! – Usher
One of the best songs with strong bass to dance to is “Yeah!” by Usher. It also features the popular artists Ludacris and Lil Jon. The song earned a Grammy Award for being the best rap/sung collaboration. It features elements of hip hop, R&B, and crunk music. Turn up the volume and try to resist dancing through this song.
Brick House – The Commodores
If there’s a playlist that needs some retro flair, the beloved funk song “Brick House” by The Commodores fits the bill. It’s a song that almost everyone knows regardless of the age of the song.
It’s hard not to want to dance to this provocative song that has had media usage pretty consistently through the past four decades. One of the most recent notable usages was in the movie Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen when Bumblebee played the song through his radio but was more recently released as downloadable content for the music videogame Rock Band 4.
Come As You Are – Nirvana
The bass-heavy grunge classic “Come As You Are” is perfect addition to any playlist. Nirvana’s sound is undeniable, recognizable, and loved by just about everyone. “Come As You Are” is still being loved as if it were new due to its inclusion in the movie Captain Marvel but Nirvana is one of those bands that never really goes out of style.
Animal I Have Become – Three Days Grace
“Animal I Have Become” is one of the most beloved Three Days Grace songs. Even with the long list of highly-rated rock singles the band released with Adam Gontier as their frontman, “Animal I Have Become” remains one that stands out. The bass really cuts through the song even with the strong rock vocals. Whether or not the audio settings are on bass boost, any listener may think that they are with this one.
Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet
“Are You Gonna Be My Girl” is Jet’s most successful song to date. The song relived its popularity a few years after its initial release when it was included in the original Rock Band’s track listing. The rock song is perfect for any playlist since it has classic rock elements but also an upbeat tempo for those looking for something to dance to.
Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas
Black Eyed Peas have released plenty of great singles with strong bass lines but none quite as iconic as “Boom Boom Pow.” It’s one of the highest rated singles of all-time according to Billboard so this song is truly unmatched to anyone looking to add some electro music to a bass playlist.
Papercut – Linkin Park
Papercut is one of those songs that just requires the volume to get turned all the way up. From Linkin Park’s popular debut album Hybrid Theory, it’s the perfect addition to a rock-heavy bass playlist a great homage to the band’s late singer Chester Bennington.
Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz
“Feel Good Inc.” is Gorillaz’s most successful single to date and its best known for its prominent bassline. The animated band transcends multiple genres and doesn’t really fit into any one lane making it a great fit for a variety of bass playlists. It also has some strong angsty themes including the media dumbing things down and intellectual freedom.
Regardless of the genre of the bass playlist being created, these are some of the songs featuring the best basslines. Some or all of these are sure to fit into making the perfect mix.