BASS WEEK: A good bassline is the heart and soul of a song. Forget your guitar solos and your vocal gymnastics; the low-end is what gets toes tapping and people moving.
In celebration of Bass Week, we rounded up a list of all-time classic ’lines, along with your suggestions and the input of the MusicRadar team, with the aim of crowning one overall bassline champion.
You voted in huge numbers and the results are finally ready to be revealed. But hold your horses - we've got 29 stunning examples of first-rate bassmanship to get through before we get to the winner.
Head on through the gallery to find out which basslines moved you, grooved you and made you want to get your hands on your own bass and make it sing.
30. I Wish - Stevie Wonder (Nathan Watts)
There aren’t too many basslines that singlehandedly make you want to move like this 1976 banger from Stevie.
Session bassist Nathan Watts delivered the goods on this one, and what a groove-heavy performance he puts in - you can almost feel his fingers burning on those formidable slides in the outro chorus.
29. Ace Of Spades - Motörhead (Lemmy)
Lemmy was, simply, the man.
He had one of the most distinctive bass tones out there, and it's deployed to devastating effect on Ace Of Spades. Grinding, distorted and utterly thrilling.
28. Badge - Cream (Jack Bruce)
Taking a leaf out of Macca’s ascending/descending bassline book (the fact that George Harrison co-wrote the track probably helped), Jack Bruce locks in with Ginger Baker for one of Cream’s finest hours, made all the more intense by the deft hammer-on fills in the song’s closing chorus.
27. Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division (Peter Hook)
Peter Hook’s melodically driven bass delivery, doubling up the song’s iconic synth and vocal line, is in full effect here.
Part of the bassline’s distinct tone comes from Hooky’s aggressive pick attack - so much so, he once snapped three strings at once. That’s some right hand, all right.
26. Taxman - The Beatles (Paul McCartney)
Supporting tetchy, sparse lead chords, the bassline is the dominant heartbeat of this angular Harrison rant, and McCartney really explores his Rickenbacker 4001S's top-end as the song heads to its thrillingly raucous conclusion.
Oh, and that famously searing guitar solo? All Paul's work, too.
25. Walk On The Wild Side - Lou Reed (Herbie Flowers)
One of the standout tracks from Lou Reed's incredible 1972 album Transformer, this David Bowie-produced classic saw bassist Herbie Flowers scoop a double session fee when he overdubbed his upright line with a fretless electric.
24. Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (James Jamerson)
James Jamerson and the Funk Brothers were on top form on this stone-cold Motown hit.
Jamerson’s descending bassline provides the song’s backbone, while the chorus’s passing notes, mirroring the vocal line, are nothing short of genius. A sterling example of a master at work.
23. For Whom The Bell Tolls - Metallica (Cliff Burton)
Following up a bass masterpiece like Kill ’Em All’s (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth is a formidable task, but Burton delivered with the wah and distortion-drenched lead line that opens this Ride The Lightning opus.
The song remains a Metallica staple to this day, but Cliff actually first performed the riff in a battle of the bands back in 1979, three years before he joined the band.
22. Give It Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers (Flea)
The lead single from 1991's multi-million selling Blood Sugar Sex Magik was largely the result of Flea and John Fruciante's jam sessions during their time in post-Mother's Milk side project H.A.T.E.
Once Anthony Kiedis heard it, he was sold: "I was so struck by Flea's bass part, which covered the whole length of the instrument's neck, that I jumped up and marched over to the mic, my notebook in tow."
21. My Generation - The Who (John Entwistle)
The bass solo that it's okay to love was recorded on 13 October 1965, with John Entwistle turning to his Fender Jazz Bass after breaking a succession of strings on the Danelectro that he'd intended to use for the part.
Alongside Moon's chaos, Townshend's aggression and Daltrey's amphetamine stutter, a classic statement of youth rebellion was born.
20. Freewill - Rush (Geddy Lee)
This isn't the last time you'll be seeing Canada's premier prog-bass genius in this poll.
Geddy Lee has built an entire career out of pushing his bass playing into ever more unexpected areas, and Freewill - from 1980 album Permanent Waves - showcases some of the best he ever committed to record. And all while singing at the same time. Colour us impressed.
19. What's Going On - Marvin Gaye (James Jamerson)
We could happily compile a top 25 greatest basslines of all time and only include Jamerson basslines, but this 1971 masterpiece is wonderful even by his incomparably high standards.
18. Hysteria - Muse (Chris Wolstenholme)
Bassist Chris Wolstenholme takes centre stage on this track with his intricate, processed bass riff providing a fat bedrock for Matt Bellamy's guitar histrionics.
The line is also notable for possessing one of the most highly sought-after bass tones ever.
17. The Chain - Fleetwood Mac (John McVie)
At three minutes in, this foot-stomping acoustic-led ballad turns into a wailing rock behemoth, led by an absolute monster of a line from John McVie.
Not only is The Chain the only song credited to all five members of the Rumours-era line-up, but UK readers will also recognise it as the theme tune for coverage of Formula One racing since time began.
16. Rain - The Beatles (Paul McCartney)
It may have been a B-side (to Paperback Writer), but Rain was recorded at an epochal moment in the Beatles' development, as the Revolver sessions saw the band inventively exploring the outer limits of studio technology and technique.
The bare bones of Rain itself were recorded faster, then slowed down by a tone to create a dense, undeniably psychedelic feel. It's a testament to Macca's musicality and playing that even this tightly packed soundscape is at times dominated by his high-register bass.
15. Under Pressure - Queen & David Bowie (John Deacon)
John Deacon is a phenomenal bass player, with an incredible ear for a hook and a simply formidable set of skills.
Under Pressure - probably one of the most famous bass riffs ever committed to vinyl - proves just how effective the simplest of rhythmic riffs can be. Even Vanilla Ice agreed.
14. The Lemon Song - Led Zeppelin (John Paul Jones)
Borrowing heavily from Howlin' Wolf's Killing Floor, The Lemon Song saw Zeppelin perform virtually live in Hollywood's Mystic Studios in 1969, with Jones pulling an intricate bass take out of the bag that was apparently almost entirely improvised.
13. I Want You Back - Jackson 5 (Wilton Felder)
The Jackson 5's towering 1969 single features this peach of a bassline, flawlessly played by session man Wilton Felder.
A prime example of post-James Jamerson funky, soulful bass playing, it's bounces all over the place while never losing sight of that all-important groove. So good, it's still guaranteed to fill any dancefloor to this day.
12. Orion - Metallica (Cliff Burton)
A huge bass talent with an all-too-brief recording career, Cliff Burton's classical sensibilities and unbelievable fingerpicking stamina marked him out as something special from the word go. 1986's Orion was his masterpiece.
11. Birdland - Weather Report (Jaco Pastorius)
Birdland, the opening track of Weather Report’s 1977 album Heavy Weather - Pastorius’s second outing with the jazz-fusion titans - proved to be the band’s commercial zenith.
Jaco quickly takes centre-stage and his typically sinuous, supple lines energise this intricate but accessible tribute to the New York jazz club named for Charlie 'Bird' Parker Jr. Fittingly, the track quickly became a standard performed by Quincy Jones, Buddy Rich, Manhattan Transfer and many more.
10. The Chicken - Jaco Pastorius
Originally a James Brown B-side composed by the Godfather of Soul's saxophonist/arranger Pee Wee Ellis, The Chicken really only took flight (sorry!) thanks to jazz bass legend Jaco Pastorius's multiple notable recordings, culminating in the below outing at his lauded 30th Birthday Concert in 1981.
9. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen (John Deacon)
A second entry for the Queen man, Deacon was certainly influenced by Chic's Good Times, but the lean, funky, bass-driven Another One Bites The Dust has racked up an astonishing amount of airplay over the years and remains immensely popular.
8. Billie Jean - Michael Jackson (Louis Johnson)
In hindsight, it's hard to believe that producer Quincy Jones felt that Billie Jean was too weak to be considered for inclusion on Thriller.
The Louis Johnson-delivered bassline went on to become one of the most recognisable in pop history, but it certainly still owes plenty to I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) by Hall & Oates.
7. Ramble On - Led Zeppelin (John Paul Jones)
John Paul Jones takes the lead in this Lord Of The Rings-inspired acoustic-meets-hard-rock anthem, which provides perhaps his finest moment.
Underpinning Jimmy Page’s unplugged strums with some deeply melodic lines, JPJ brings the thunder for the chorus, deploying some swift fingerstyle. And those fills in the last refrain, crossfading across the stereo field? Pure bass magic.
6. Money - Pink Floyd (Roger Waters)
7/4 isn't the exactly the most common time signature in rock but it certainly didn't stop the opening track on side two of The Dark Side Of The Moon from attaining classic status, thanks to Waters' infuriatingly catchy line.
5. Roundabout - Yes (Chris Squire)
Co-written by Squire in 1971, after its moody acoustic guitar intro, Roundabout features a surprisingly funky bass riff from 0:44 onwards that is the dictionary definition of the Rickenbacker bass sound, which the Yes bassist made his own.
4. Schism - Tool (Justin Chancellor)
Released in 2001, Schism was the first single from Tool's staggering album of the following year, Lateralus.
An incredibly complex piece of work from a meter standpoint, it also sees Justin Chancellor more than earn his money during that nifty hammer-on intro.
3. Come Together - The Beatles (Paul McCartney)
Macca played more complex parts, but there aren't many as irresistibly cool as Come Together, the late-period Beatles masterpiece that saw the warring fabs somehow pull a stand-out performance out of the bag. Just plain cool.
2. Good Times - Chic (Bernard Edwards)
Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards' 1979 composition was a huge disco hit but that's only half the story.
One of the most-sampled records in history, an onstage jam at Bonds nightclub in NYC would spawn Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight, while the bassline was a huge influence on Queen's Another One Bites The Dust, released the following year.
1. YYZ - Rush (Geddy Lee)
It's another win for almighty Canadian prog heroes Rush, whose frontman/bass player/synth whiz Geddy Lee just won our best bassist poll, and now this 1981 instrumental has landed the accolade of being voted best bassline.
In typically Rush fashion, the piece is in 5/4, while the intro riffs represent the airport identification code of Toronto Pearson International Airport. As you do.
Regardless of its origins, YYZ is an instrumental tour-de-force for all the band's members, but Geddy's distinctive tone and rapid-fire fingerpicking ensures he shines above all.