There are a lot of musical instruments, many with tons of people who love them to bits. The twang of a guitar, the beat of a drum, these instruments contribute significantly to their songs, but there’s something to be said about the humble bass guitar. It’s not often that bass gets to be front and center, but for me, even when it’s just there to enhance the music, I love that sound in songs with good bass.
To help people learn to appreciate the bass, we’ve prepared 55 of the best bass songs, choosing from songs across a wide spectrum of time.
(note: some songs may have strong language, violent themes, and flashing lights)
#1. “Ace of Spades” – Motörhead
In our first entry, if a person doesn’t have a discerning ear, they may mistake the bassline for being a guitar, when, in actuality, the bass player just goes very fast and very hard. Lenny Kilmister knew how to play a solid bassline, may he rest in peace.
#2. “Aeroplane” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Aeroplane relegates the bass to a complimentary role often through the song, but just as often, the instrument gets the chance to show just how funky it can sound.
#3. “Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen
Queen is the kind of band where one member definitely stands out over the rest, but there’s no denying that John Deacon’s masterful bassline enhances the song in a significant way. Not that it wasn’t excellent even without Deacon’s contribution, but it’s really the bread and butter of this song.
#4. “Arachnotopia” – The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
This is one of our all-time favorite songs, bassline or no. And granted, the bassline is only present at the beginning and end, but we gotta say, we love how it bookends the rest of it.
#5. “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” – Jet
This song was a big hit back in the early to mid 2000s, appearing in commercials and on the radio regularly. And despite having heard it a million times over, somehow we’re still not sick of it. It’s got good energy and momentum, and the bassline goes real hard.
#6. “Around the World” – Daft Punk and Michel Gondry
Daft Punk may be more well known for their electronic music, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to make a good song with bass. Around the World proves that they aren’t limited just to their specialty.
#7. “Beat It” – Michael Jackson
Beat It has one of those basslines that, once it gets in your head, it’s hard to get out. The song has a ton of energy to it, and that energy is quite infectious.
#8. “Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson
Trust us, we’re not trying to be biased towards Michael Jackson, it just so happens that he made two ‘B’ songs with a great bass! But we couldn’t help but include both, as we couldn’t pick a favorite. Both are classics, and their bass goes so wild.
#9. “Brick House” – The Commodores
This song is super recognizable, and while it has a lot of qualities that add to that, the bass is one of the first things that really gets your neurons firing up as you remember it. The bassline, as well as everything about the song, just screams “funk.”
#10. “Broken Hearted” – Elgin
The deep bass chords contrast well with the higher-pitched singing in this song, which does a great job conveying the confusing feeling of having your heart broken.
#11. “Can’t Stop” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
While it doesn’t kick things off with the bass, the bass – performed by legendary bassist Flea – will inevitably blow you away once it starts. There’s a good reason it’s one of the most recognizable.
#12. “The Chain” – Fleetwood Mac
The Chain is a rather emotional song, and the usage of the bass really enhances that feeling. The bassline does a solid job of building up, with the song starting off soft and the lyrics kicking in as the music finally starts to build up.
#13. “Chameleon” – Herbie Hancock
Chameleon is a jazzy song, but not necessarily in the way you might think. It has all the trappings of a great jazz song, but be ready for the bassline to obliterate your expectations.
#14. “Come as You Are” – Nirvana
Of all the songs Nirvana produced, this one is one of our favorite, at least as far as the bassline goes. It’ll definitely be stuck in your head for a while.
#15. “Come Together” – The Beatles
Yet another “most iconic” bassline, Come Together, is the kind of fun, Brit-pop that we’ve come to love from The Beatles. An all-time classic song.
#16. “Downtown” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
While the song is definitely most well-known for its loud and bombastic singing, that isn’t enough to prevent the quality bassline from shining through.
#17. “Enter Sandman” – Metallica
One of the all-time classics of metal songs, the bassline in this song serves to provide foundational support with a consistent rhythm.
#18. “Feel Good Inc.” – Gorillaz
The performers may be fictional characters, but the music they make is all real. The bass in this song is solid, and is given a chance to make its presence known from the very beginning of the song. It’s only as the song begins to build up that the bass mixes with other types of music, but it still has a big impact on the overall song.
#19. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” – Metallica
A solid bassline is not at all uncommon in many of the greatest metal songs, and that’s no exception with this song either. This is arguably the greatest bass performance by former Metallica bassist Clifford Lee Burton, and it’s helped make it a favorite among Metallica fans.
#20. “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” – Ghost
Whether you’re talking about the subject matter or the song itself, it sure does feel heavy, owing to its darker musical tones and Satanic themes.
#21. “Good Times” – Chic
Honestly, Good Times’ success is probably less due to the song itself and more to do with the number of hip-hop song creators who sampled it. Nevertheless, there’s a very good reason why it was sampled so much.
#22. “Hydrogen” – M.O.O.N.
This song is not nearly as well-known as other songs on the list, although if you played the video game Hotline Miami, you might recognize it because of it being used as part of the game’s soundtrack. The music, whether it’s being heard through the game or on its own, does a great job of pumping you up, and rests its laurels on the bass. At least, that’s what I most fondly remember about this song.
#23. “I Want You Back” – The Jackson 5
This is once again an example where the bass is there to help elevate the overall quality and vibe of the song. It’s not the most emphatic bassline, but it’s there, and it’s still strong.
#24. “I’ll Take You There” – The Staple Singers
We love the bass in this one; to match with the mood of the song, the bassist plucks at the strings so carefully, generating a lovely, soft sound.
#25. “Living Dead Girl” – Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie’s discography has always been quite macabre, and the incorporation of the bassline in this way only helps enhance that.
#26. “Lovely Day” – Bill Withers
Lovely Day has a lovely, consistent bassline that plays throughout the song. It’s stronger in parts, but it’s always present and always a joy.
#27. “Message in a Bottle” – The Police
Message in a Bottle’s bassist does a lot of legwork throughout the song, but the points where the bass shines the most is when the song begins to slow down.
#28. “Money” – Pink Floyd
Often, in songs with good bass, a bassline is included in a song because it’s good for a solid foundation, and Money fits the bill with that. The bassline flows through the whole song, and while you won’t be locked onto it, it’ll definitely elevate what works.
#29. “My Name is Mud” – Primus
If you ever need to turn to a band for their bass, Primus is one of the best picks. Their bass is so good that its frontman, Les Claypool, auditioned for Metallica, but was rejected for being too good.
#30. N.I.B. – Black Sabbath
This may not be the most famous song Ozzy’s ever made, but just by virtue of him being such a legend, virtually any of his songs are bound to blow you away.
#31. “Panic Attack” – Dream Theater
Not only does this song open with an impressive bassline, it also goes pretty hard with it. The frenetic pace of the bass really helps emphasize the song title.
#32. “Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons
Bass can work on pretty much anything, whether it’s a slow love ballad or an intense rock song like Radioactive. Our favorite of Imagine Dragon’s work, and not just because of the bass, this song lives on.
#33. “Ramble On” – Led Zeppelin
Depending on who you ask, the bassline sounds better in the original or remastered version. Just be sure to listen to each version so you can decide for yourself!
#34. “Redbone” – Childish Gambino
A bassline can be presented in a wide variety of ways, and if you want a song with a chill base, Childish Gambino’s Redbone might be your best bet. Expect to get pretty relaxed after hearing this song.
#35. “Sail” – AWOLNATION
Sail has a bassline that you can not only hear, but feel. It’s a great example of how deep and resonating bass can be.
#36. “Schism” – Tool
If you’re looking to get into Tool, this song is a good avenue for that, as Tool tends to operate on extremes, while this song falls right at the center of their specialty.
#37. “September” – Earth, Wind & Fire
I remember our first time hearing September, and to be honest, it completely blew me away. I discovered it many years after its original inception, and it helped make the band one of my favorites. Where the bassline in Redbone is chill and relaxed, this song’s bassline is fun and light. It really helps show the diversity of this instrument.
#38. “Seven Nation Army” – The White Stripes
The very first thing you hear when going into this song is the bass, and it’s one that stuck with me for a long time. Seven Nation Army is a song we like to revisit time and time again.
#39. “Sex Machine” – James Brown
There’s a lot of things to love about this, including James Brown’s amazing voice and the way he carries himself. The bass is given less prominence throughout the song, but it’s always there to enhance the experience.
#40. “Slow Dance in the Morning” – Jesse Gold
This track starts out with a pretty slow pace, and it never really advances it much. But that’s okay, we love a slow bass in this house.
#41. “Smoke on the Water” – Deep Purple
Smoke on the Water has a great bassline, but an even greater origin, retelling a true story of the band recording a song, only for a fire to suddenly blaze above them, inspiring the track.
#42. “So What” – Miles Davis
In this song, the instrumentation is very chill, relaxed, and subdued. We wouldn’t say that it’s the standout piece, but it does what it needs to in order to make this piece stand out better.
#43. “Stand By Me” – Ben E. King
The bassline in this song does a remarkable job of evoking the romance, which is at the very core of what this song is. This song is a classic, and the bassline is quite memorable.
#44. “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees
Disco sure does love its bassline, and Stayin’ Alive is certainly no exception to this. This song may be most notable for the incredibly high notes the singers are able to hit, the bassline is unmistakably theirs.
#45. “Sucks To Know You (FU)” – Mergui מרגי
The bassline in this song does a lot to contribute to this song’s feeling of frustration over the conflict between hating someone and missing someone. Despite this, it still manages to be a bit of a bop!
#46. “Super Freak” – Rick James
For this song, there’s no better way to describe it than “super freaky.” Super Freak is full of energy, and it’s unapologetic in its lyrics. The bass is a little repetitive, but it’s iconic nonetheless.
#47. “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder
Superstition is one of the most legendary works by Stevie Wonder, one of the most legendary performers. The bassline has a nice feel to it that really compliments Wonder’s smooth tones.
#48. “Treasure” – Bruno Mars
This is a song about being treasured, and I must say, I treasure this song. Everything about it resonates with us, feeling like its bassline was ripped straight from the 70s.
#49. “U Can’t Touch This” – M.C. Hammer
Despite its popularity peaking back in the 80s and 90s, you’re pretty likely to have heard it once or twice before. The music is such an earworm, not helped at all by the iconic bassline.
#50. “Under Pressure” – David Bowie and Freddy Mercury
Under Pressure is a rare treat, a crossover between two of the greatest British singers ever, resulting in one of the best bass songs of all time. Not only does it bring Bowie and Mercury together, but the bass performance is one of our all-time favorites, and an easily recognizable one as well. You may even recognize it from Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, who infamously featured it in their song, but denied having done so.
#51. “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
Funk is right, every aspect of this song just screams modern funk, bassline included. Whether it’s given time to stand out on its own or it’s supporting the song, the bassline is a joy to listen to.
#52. “What the Water Gave Me” – Florence + the Machines
Florence + the Machines has always been quite an experimental band, and if we must say, the experiment was a rousing success. This wonderful, strange song’s singing is expanded by the instruments, bass included.
#53. “What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye
A bassline does not necessarily need to stand out in order to make a song one of the best bass songs, and this proves it. While it can be hard to consciously pick up at times, as it mixes with a lot of the other aspects of the song, it’s still a necessary component.
#54. “White Knuckle Ride” – Jamiroquai
This song tends to be lowkey in a lot of spots throughout, and while it does build up, it never gets to be so much that the bassline is deprioritized. And thank goodness for that, because we’re a big fan of this one.
#55. “YYZ” – Rush
This song goes in such wild directions throughout. Honestly, it feels like YYZ is an amalgam of different songs, and yet, it all works together perfectly. YYZ is easily one of our favorite songs with good bass out there, and its bassist does work, and a lot of it, just as much as all the other band members.
Did we miss any of your favorite bass songs? Let us know by contacting us today.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.