Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O has teamed up with country legend Willie Nelson, making an unlikely duo to cover the Queen and David Bowie crossover hit “Under Pressure.” This song was originally released as a single in 1981 and included on Queen’s Hot Space the following year, scoring the band’s second number one hit in the UK.
This cover was produced by TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, featuring guitars from Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, Imaad Wasif and Johnny Hanson, with background vocals from Priscilla Ahn. This cover blends in country elements, with its country guitar tones, acoustic guitar melodies and slow tempo, which give the track a more humble feel as opposed to the pop infused original.
This song was inspired by the upcoming election, and started with Karen O supporting legislation to help save venues across the country. She eventually connected with Nelson through their mutual friend Johnny Knoxville, leading to this cover.
“A friend on the board of NIVA asked if I knew of any country artists who could sign a letter to Congress asking them to help save independent venues from going extinct due to Covid,” Karen O explained in a press release. “I recalled my buddy Johnny Knoxville being friends with Willie so I asked to see if he could check in with Willie about it, and then out of sheer audacity I added ‘and if he ever wants to do a duet I’m ready and willing!'”
Nelson continues to to make music, releasing the politically-charged “Vote ‘Em Out” last month and teaming up with Edie Brickell for “Sing To Me Willie” in May. In April he released his new album Rose of Spring. Yeah yeah Yeahs released a performance of “Phenomena” recorded in isolation back in May, with Karen O releasing a performance of “Our Time” in April. She also appeared on Tenacious D’s cover of “Time Warp.”
Photo Credit: Marv Watson