Top 40 Smash Near Misses — “Under Pressure”

These posts are about the songs that just barely failed to cross the key line of chart success, entering the Billboard Top 40. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 41.

used romance

My Chemical Romance formed in Newark, New Jersey, in 2001. Playing an especially glossy version of emo, the band developed a large and fiercely devoted following. They sold millions of records and were one of the dwindling number of rock acts that could place the occasional single in the Billboard Top 40. They had two hits that crossed that key threshold: “Helena” and “Welcome to the Black Parade,” the latter making it all the way to the Top 10.

The Used formed at about the same time, first plying their trade in Utah. Writhing around with the declawed punk sound that took over alternative rock in the post-grunge era that fermented into being in the late nineteen-nineties, the Used were too rough to break through on the pop chart and enjoyed only modest hits on alternative and rock radio. It took a team-up with My Chemical Romance to bring the Used their first truly significant chart action.

Gerard Way and Bert McCracken, the respective lead singers for My Chemical Romance and the Used, bonded while indulging in rock ‘n’ roll debauchery when the bands toured together. Their camaraderie helped inspire a collaboration between the bands when the call went out to contribute to a fundraising effort to support people left destitute by the 2004 tsunami that hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and several other countries. The natural choice was to record a cover song, presumably the more grandiose the better to suit both bands’ penchants for excess. And rock songs don’t get much more grandiose than “Under Pressure,” originally recorded by David Bowie and Queen.

Released as a downloadable track (it eventually migrated to one of the Used’s albums), “Under Pressure” generated enough attention to edge its way up the main Billboard chart. The good intentions weren’t quite enough to get the collective into the Top 40, though. The track peaked at #41.

Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Top 40 Smash Near Misses” tag.

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