“Another One Bites the Dust” is a song by the British rock band Queen. Written by bassist John Deacon, the song was featured on the group’s eighth studio album The Game (1980). It was a worldwide hit, reaching #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song was the longest running top ten song of 1980. It reached #7 on the UK Singles Chart. The song is credited as Queen’s best-selling single.
The song won an American Music Award for Favorite Rock Single and also garnered a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. “Another One Bites the Dust” has been covered, remixed and sampled by many artists since its release, and has also appeared in TV shows, commercials, films and other media. The song has also featured at sports events.
There are no synthesisers in the song: all effects are created by piano, electric guitars and drums, with subsequent tape playback performed in reverse at various speeds. Finally, sound effects were run through the harmonizer for further processing. The effect of the harmonizer can be heard clearly in the “swirling” nature of the sound immediately before the first lyric. In early live performances, Taylor sang lead on the chorus, as opposed to the studio version sung entirely by Mercury. As the song became more well-known, the band could rely on audiences to sing the chorus by themselves. After attending a Queen concert in Los Angeles, Michael Jackson suggested to Freddie Mercury backstage that “Another One Bites the Dust” be released as a single.
At the 1981 American Music Awards on 30 January, “Another One Bites the Dust” won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single. The song also garnered Queen a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The music video for “Another One Bites the Dust” was filmed at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas.
The song was used in a preliminary cut of Rocky III, before being replaced by Survivor‘s “Eye of the Tiger“. “When one of my idols, Brian May, attended one of our shows in Los Angeles in 1984, he brought up that subject,” recalled Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan, to whom Sylvester Stallone had supplied a copy of the movie. “I offered to send him a copy of the tape, which I still own.”
Queen comments on the song
I listened to a lot of soul music when I was in school, and I’ve always been interested in that sort of music. I’d been wanting to do a track like ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ for a while, but originally all I had was the line and the bass riff. Gradually, I filled it in and the band added ideas. I could hear it as a song for dancing but had no idea it would become as big as it did. The song got picked up off our album and some of the black radio stations in the US started playing it, which we’ve never had before. Michael Jackson actually suggested we release it as a single. He was a fan of ours and used to come to our shows. —John Deacon
A fantastic bit of work from Freddie really. I mean, I remember Deacy having this idea, but Deacy doesn’t sing of course, so he was trying to suggest to Freddie how it should be and Fred just went in there and hammered and hammered until his throat bled, making… you know, he really was inspired by it and took it to a new height, I think. —Brian May
John Deacon, being totally in his own world, came up with this thing, which was nothing like what we were doing. We were going for the big drum sound: you know, quite pompous in our usual way. And Deakey says, “No, I want this to be totally different: it’s going to be a very tight drum sound.” It was originally done to a drum loop – this was before the days of drum machines. Roger did a loop, kind of under protest, because he didn’t like the sound of the drums recorded that way. And then Deakey put this groove down. Immediately Freddie became violently enthusiastic and said, “This is big! This is important! I’m going to spend a lot of time on this.” It was the beginning of something quite big for us, because it was the first time that one of our records crossed over to the black community. We had no control over that; it just happened. Suddenly we were forced to put out this single because so many stations in New York were playing it. It changed that album from being a million-seller to being a three-million seller in a matter of three weeks or so. —Brian May
[Freddie] would certainly fight for things he believed in. Like ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ which was a bit of a departure for Queen. Roger, at the time, certainly felt that it wasn’t rock and roll and was quite angry at the way it was going. And Freddie said, “Darling, leave it to me. I believe in this.” John had written the song. But it took Freddie’s support to make it happen. —Brian May
I remember laying down the backing track with him and… he really wanted the drums as dry as they could possibly be, so I just stuffed it all with blankets and made it as dead as I possibly could and very low tuned. —Roger Taylor
Credit for the song should go to Michael Jackson in many ways. He was a fan and friend of ours and kept telling me, “Freddie, you need a song the cats can dance to.” John introduced this riff to us during rehearsal that we all immediately thought of disco, which was very popular at the time. We worked it out and once it was ready, played it for Michael. I knew we had a hit as he bobbed his head up and down. “That’s it, that’s the gravy. Release it and it will top the charts,” he said. So we did and it did. —Freddie Mercury
“Another One Bites the Dust” was used in a study to train medical professionals to provide the correct number of chest compressions per minute while performing CPR. The bassline has close to 110 beats per minute, and 100–120 chest compressions per minute are recommended by the British Heart Foundation, and endorsed by the Resuscitation Council (UK).