Musical tastes vary from one to another, but as a listener, most people seem to go through a “bass heavy” phase sooner or later.
There’s just something about pumping up the bass, throwing on the shades, and driving down main street with the windows down that makes you feel timeless and invincible.
But finding that perfect song, or crafting the definitive bass heavy playlist? Well, that’s another thing entirely, and a lofty ambition if there ever was one.
And the truth is, you can’t just depend on one genre or style of music. You’d be robbing yourself of some musical experiences you simply can’t get anywhere else if you only stuck to electronic music and hip-hop.
So, in this guide, we’ll look at some of the best bass heavy songs of all time, across a wide spectrum of artists, genres, and time periods.
“Lovely Day” by Bill Withers
Quick side note before we start, I’ve had some readers ask about the easiest way to learn guitar. I’ve shared that here for those that are interested.
Ok, back to the article.
Bill Withers is an early R&B staple, and one of the most recognizable voices of an era.
“Lovely Day” is one of those songs that demonstrates euphoric pop bliss undergirded by a refined musical arrangement is not only possible – but necessary. You should never feel embarrassed putting this song on in your car or at your party, no matter the company you keep or audience you draw. It’s a crowd pleaser regardless.
Now for the most important part…
The song’s bass line is decidedly punchy and features quite a bit of movement to maintain interest throughout the song. Turning that bass dial up will only accentuate what is a pocket-tight bass-line complementing a perfect song. Give it a try and see for yourself.
“Sail” by AWOLNATION
AWOLNATION’s “Sail” has some serious pop appeal, with its plodding, midtempo synthesizer laden backing track, distorted bass, hand clapped percussion, and heavily distorted vocal, which would be at home in a dubstep track.
The blown-out bass sound is obviously perfect for those cranked-up convertible summer oceanside drives. You will feel that bass, believe me.
In the interest of transparency, I will share, as I always do, that I think this is a terrible song with bad composition and poor taste. Even the lyrics are too try-hard, with an altogether excessively nonchalant devil may care attitude that leaves you feeling less empathy for the narrator than when you started.
But that’s just one man’s opinion, and if bass is your thing, don’t let my thoughts sway you one way or the other.
“I Can’t Stop” by Flux Pavillion
The first 20 seconds or so of “I Can’t Stop” can lull you into a false sense of comfort. It fools you into thinking that this might be one of those chill vocal trance tracks you heard so often in the early 2010s. Nope.
As the song starts to pick up some steam, layers of heavy, abrasive sounds are added to the mix, rumbling and vibrating your speakers like they were a glass of water in an earthquake.
Flux Pavillion is credited for his early contributions to what we know today as mainstream dubstep (which has a much longer tradition). But it’s clear to see, upon listening to “I Can’t Stop,” that he had his own approach to the genre, often emulated, but never duplicated.
If anything, this song is the meeting place of chill and coarse, nice and naughty. And that gives it a distinct flavor not heard on most dubstep projects.
“Coming Up” by Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up” owes a great deal to the dance music of the time, but in Beatles fashion, it also sounds far ahead of its time, as if it were paving the way for new wave, synthpop, and the Huey Lewis and the News template that dominated the airwaves of the 80s (I’m not saying Huey Lewis is responsible – but have a close listen to 80s Michael Jackson, Prince, and even Hall & Oates – it all seems like the same band with a different singer).
“Coming Up” is decidedly quirky, and yet highly listenable and danceable. It would be hard to resist getting up on the dancefloor upon hearing this song’s intro.
And Paul’s bassline is sheer brilliance. It carries with it some serious in the pocket weight, while giving this avant-garde song some added texture and flavor.
“DERP” by Bassjackers & MAKJ
From the opening notes, “DERP” hits hard with a high-impact bass beat that only builds with repetition.
The repeated calls to “turn the f*cking bass up” are a dead giveaway that this “festival big-room house” beat was tailor made to blow your speakers up.
It’s not a complex, sophisticated song by any means (it might not even fit the definition of a “song”), but for a little mindless fun and dance parties that never seem to end, it‘s a must have.
This is also a great song for a quick “pump up,” before sessions at the gym, competitions, making big life decisions, or otherwise (well, maybe that last one is a little too much for a song with a rudimentary foundation).
Go ahead, pump it up and dance all night long. We won’t judge.
“Licking Stick – Licking Stick” by James Brown
“Godfather of soul” James Brown has more than a few tunes that would be right at home on this list.
What makes “Licking Stick” a worth entry here is Timothy Drummond’s syncopated bass-line. It grooves, it booms, and it lends weight to this song’s unusual arrangement (listen closely to the drums – is that what you typically expect to hear in a funk song?).
If this song doesn’t get you up and moving, nothing will.
“Hysteria” by Muse
This inclusion might puzzle you at first, but it would behoove you to have another listen.
At the heart of this urgent, melodramatic rock song is a movement-heavy bass-line that carries the weight of the song from start to finish (if you get my meaning).
Chris Wolstenholme’s steady, frantic bass-line is what gives guitarist Matt Bellamy the space he needs to create texture and atmosphere on his guitar.
Overall, Muse is great. I don’t think this is their best work myself, but like I said, it’s the bass-line. If you’re looking for a bass heavy song, this is certainly one of them.
“Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” has a simple chordal structure and shouted gang vocals that made its pop appeal instant. And it gave way to bands in a similar vein, like AWOLNATION, though if I were to pick, I would choose Imagine Dragons over them every time.
The song features a mid-tempo arrangement more sophisticated than was expected in 2012. If that seems a bold statement, have another listen. The song begins with a mix of layered acoustic and electric stringed and fretted instruments, only to be met with heavily distorted and pulsating synth sounds along with layered, atmospheric clean and distorted electric guitars. The song builds again in the chorus with gang vocals and additional instrumental layers.
Bottom line, though, the dirty bass and heavy percussion are what give this song its impacting bottom end.
Not my favorite song, to be honest, but a good one for a bass test.
“Yeah!” by Usher ft. Lil Jon, Ludacris
The infectious, Grammy-award winning “Yeah!” features one of the most repetitive hooks I’ve ever heard in a song. What makes it all work is not the beat (momentum killing and lame sauce if you ask me) – it’s Usher’s vocals. And that speaks more to his talent than anything else.
But there’s no denying this song features plenty of bottom end to “make your booty” jiggle. Crank up the bass on your speakers and you’ll see exactly what I mean. So, it’s perfect for this list, if for nothing else.
“Brick House” by Commodores
It’s unlikely you’ve never heard the Commodores’ “Brick House,” as this song is literally everywhere, whether in commercials, TV shows, or movies. And, in case you’ve forgotten, it features a killer bass-line that makes you want to get up and dance too.
What I love most about it is its tight, funky groove. The bass sits at the heart of it all, giving other instruments the framework they need to be able to breathe.
Another fun song to crank up in your car.
“Come As You Are” by Nirvana
“Come As You Are” is a 90s grunge essential, with Kurt Cobain’s signature guitar riff, Dave Grohl’s impossibly punchy snare, and Krist Novoselic’s deep and pounding bassline.
At first, it might seem as though the bass blends right into the background but give it a bit of a boost on your system, and it will steadily grow more present to the point where it’s frankly overwhelming.
Give it a try and see for yourself. You might just get hooked.
“Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace
Three Days Grace’s “Animal I Have Become” opens with a lone, heavy bass-line accompanied by a kick drum. If that doesn’t tell you what’s to follow in this song, nothing will.
Soon, drop tuned guitars and vocal growls join in on the chorus of heavy that is “Animal I Have Become.”
Is it emo and melodramatic? Yeah. But is it catchy and memorable? Oh, yeah! and will it give your subwoofer a run for its money? Hell yeah!
“Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet
Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” is a throwback to an earlier time in rock and roll (it’s very Beatlesque), with a modern attitude.
And it all opens with a tambourine and a bass-line that spells out what’s to come. The relatively sparse instrumentation leaves plenty of room for that weighty bottom end to shine.
I find the song cheesy and sophomoric rather than catchy and sophisticated, but I can’t deny that it is highly danceable.
“Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas’ nonsensical “Boom Boom Pow” is silly and ridiculous, with its 808 drumbeat, sparse musical arrangement, and vocal driven melody. It’s a wonder it became one of the highest rated singles of all time (that still baffles me).
It should be said, though, that from top to bottom, it is a very bottom-heavy song, mostly driven by the drumbeat and bass synth. Give it a go and see what happens.
“Papercut” by Linkin Park
From Linkin Park’s ever popular debut album Hybrid Theory, “Papercut” features an aggressive bass-line doubled up by a drop tuned and distorted electric guitar. It might seem unassuming at first but check it out for yourself and you’ll see – it’s incredibly bass heavy.
“Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz
“Feel Good Inc.” is the Gorillaz’ most recognizable single to date, and its catchy, punchy bass-line is its standout feature.
When you listen closely, though, you soon realize it’s weird and abrasive, especially with its hip-hop leanings. The lyrics are highly visual but very abstract. The main themes in the music video are intellectual freedom and the dumbing down of culture through media (seems more relevant than ever), but we’re not sure if that’s what the song is about.
For a song called “Feel Good Inc.,” sure it’s danceable, but it’s so eerie.
“Gratitude” by Beastie Boys
With the release of Check Your Head, the world saw a decidedly new Beastie Boys. Despite being known as an innovative white-boy hip-hop group, their New York punk and hardcore roots were never more apparent than on this release, and “Gratitude” brought something new to the table while paying homage to the music they grew up loving.
The song begins with Adam “MCA” Yauch’s fuzz-drenched, “riffy” bassline that carries the entire song. Michael Diamond’s drumming is spot on, and it supports MCA’s weighty, distorted riff like no other. Then come the guitar and organ, which are like the icing on the top of the cake.
Yeah, you might have forgotten about this one. But we remembered for you.
“Get Up And Jump” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are considered some of the most skilled musicians in rock, and for good reason. The mere mention of Chad Smith, Flea, and John Frusciante should do most of the talking (to be fair, they’ve had more guitarists than there are stars in the sky).
In my opinion, the band never quite found their sound, but millions of fans say otherwise.
“Get Up And Jump,” though, features the kind of frenzied funk I believe the band should have leaned more heavily on. And Flea’s bass-line is nothing short of colorful, heavy, and time perfect.
It’s a wonder we don’t see this song on more lists like this one.
“U Can’t Hold No Groove (If You Ain’t Got No Pocket)” by Victor Wooten
What is Victor Wooten if not the consummate bass virtuoso?
It might be a little harder to appreciate the incredibly intricate “U Can’t Hold No Groove (If You Ain’t Got No Pocket)” if you aren’t a musician yourself, but fun fact – aside from some layered vocals towards the end of the song, the entire song is comprised of bass guitar. And we’re not talking multiple, multi-tracked parts either. This is all just one, cohesive bass performance. Absolutely unreal.
Sure, Wooten’s bass is tuned to feature a broad range of frequencies (as opposed to just bass frequencies), but if you crank up the bass dial on your system, I promise the ensuing rumble will shake you to your core.
“Addicted To That Rush” by Mr. Big
Bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan brought some serious flare, speed, and style to the bass guitar, especially on Mr. Big songs like “Addicted To That Rush.” His approach and tone is so unusual, in fact, that you might not even recognize it as bass at first. But wait until the guitar joins in. Your jaw will go slack.
Listening to Sheehan’s playing is sure to get you “addicted to that rush.”
“Cupid’s Dead” by Extreme
Extreme’s III Sides to Every Story was an ambitious release, and while it may not have “landed the plane” on every artistic runway, it’s still a lofty accomplishment worthy of recognition. And the album was full of ingenious ideas, including this – “Cupid’s Dead.”
As a musician myself, let me say at the outset that it takes something to play this song on the guitar. But if you listen closely, you will hear that the bass player (in this case Pat Badger), in many cases, is doubling the guitar riffs note for note(!).
This is most apparent in the extended unison “solo” section beginning at about the three-minute mark. Wow. Just… wow. The bass-line in “Cupid’s Dead” is heavy on many levels.
“Bullet In The Head” by Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine had plenty of heavy-hitting bass-lines and lyrical content in their day. The funky “Bullet In The Head” stands out because the bass is basically the lead instrument in this song. Sure, the layered guitars come in on command, but without the bass, “Bullet In The Head” would simply not be what it is.
Another song that’s sure to get you pumped up.
“Here To Stay” by Korn
Korn’s “Here To Stay” opens with indecipherable guitar noises followed by what can only be described as a wall of bass and guitars. Whether it’s just the bass, or the mounting weight of detuned guitars and the bass, we’ll leave to your imagination (it’s both). But the riff, while impossibly heavy, is also a bit of an earworm. That’s part of what’s so brilliant about it.
If nu metal is your thing, you’ll welcome this addition to your playlist.
“Orion” by Metallica
Metallica’s “Orion” begins with a deep, swirling, rumbling bass you can feel in the pit of your stomach. And it contrasts quite effectively with the thrashy, midrange enhanced dual guitars.
This instrumental is a Metallica essential, and it could almost be called “progressive” considering the scope of musical ground it covers during its runtime.
The bass is quite brilliant throughout, with plenty of great riffs that weave in and out and complement the guitars.
“Money” by Pink Floyd
When it comes to heavy basses, we certainly can’t ignore the bass of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters.
His playing is often simplistic and more pocket than groove, but you’ll find it quite on point with “Money,” featuring an unforgettable hook doubled up on the guitar.
The bass is quite present in the mix, and of course, you can bring it up on your own system if you want to enhance it further.
“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” is a song that hardly needs any introduction, especially since it was on one of the all-time best-selling albums, Thriller.
What you might not remember is just how powerful the pulsing bass-line is. And if the main bass-line wasn’t enough, there’s a secondary bass-line, just to ensure its presence is sufficiently asserted.
Quite fitting that one of the best pop songs ever recorded also has one of the heaviest bass riffs.
“Phantom Of The Opera” by Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden’s frantic “Phantom Of The Opera” epitomizes the very essence of the band, and like Metallica’s “Orion,” it comes complete with shades of progressive metal.
The song opens with a twin guitar and bass part that melts your face. And then the song picks up with a galloping metal riff that’s far superior to any uncreative galloping power-chord riff cliché that has come after it.
Throughout the song, the bass plays a major role, with accents, shots, and riffs that complement the guitars. A great showcase of the bass throughout!
“The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac
This probably seems like an unlikely choice, and chances are you aren’t convinced. But let me state this clearly – sometimes you just need to go and listen for yourself to rediscover how awesome a song like “The Chain” is, including its punchy, accented bass-line.
Yes, the song begins humbly and sparsely enough, with guitars in either ear, as well as layered vocal harmonies in the center. But the mix is odd… usually, the vocals would be much louder in the mix. Then the drums and bass come in to fill out the song. And the resulting impact is… indescribable (especially if you’ve never heard the song before).
And then comes the solo section, which begins with the bass laying out the groove for the guitar to follow. Brilliant.
This is a bass song through and through, because even when the bass is not playing, you’re hearing it in your head.
“I Wish” by Stevie Wonder
You may also know this song as the backing track to Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” (a song some still enjoy, but a movie many choose to forget).
But aside from that rather strong association, this song is enough to label Stevie Wonder the modern king of busy funk. “I Wish” is impossibly groovy from start to finish, with an intricate keyboard riff, along with horn stabs, and of course, a bass line that’s too funky and heavy to quit.
Even the consummate musician, Prince himself saw Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life as the best album of all time. If that doesn’t immediately propel this song to legendary status on this list, we don’t know what will.
“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
This Motown classic shows off bassist James Jamerson’s sophisticated, expertly developed bass skills in spades. And the song only benefits from the “busy” bass work that never takes away and only adds to the chilled plate of grooves that is “What’s Going On.”
Besides, it’s hard to find music with this level of artistry and sophistication today. The arrangement is simply breathtaking, with peaks and valleys that would make most electronic music come up for air and re-examine its very existence.
The bass work alone makes “What’s Going On” a worthy addition to your playlist, but the song is what truly wins you over. And to us, that means a heck of a lot more than just “this song will rattle your speakers.”
“Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen
Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” might not be the first song that comes to mind when you’re thinking about testing your subwoofer, but bassist John Deacon’s bass riff is beyond iconic, and catchy beyond reason. It’s so cool that it makes you want to put your shades on just to listen to it.
The tight, perfectly in-the-pocket bass is at the heart and center of this funky, groovy tune, with spare instrumentation. Together with the drums, it develops into a truly impactful sound with some punchy bass.
Have another listen to this classic, and we’re certain you’ll see why you should add it to your bass heavy playlist.
Top Bass Heavy Songs, Final Thoughts
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, but we know we didn’t quite get to everything. There are so many electronic and hip-hop songs with a bass that booms, and while it is represented here to a lesser degree, frankly there are a lot of songs trying to “out-bass” each other in a never-ending arms race.
But if you like variety and want to go through the history and evolution of music and bass-lines, the above list should give you more than enough to dig into.
So, go and make your playlist, hop in your car, go for a ride, crank up your tunes, and let us know how you get on!
Last Updated on January 4, 2022.
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