top of page
  • Writer's pictureRobbie - ChattingTracks

"Under Pressure: Did Vanilla Ice Rip Off Queen?"


In the annals of music history, countless controversies have surrounded plagiarism, inspiration, and the blurred lines between the two. One such contentious episode occurred in the early 1990s when Vanilla Ice, the rap sensation of the moment, released his mega-hit "Ice Ice Baby." The catchy tune bore an uncanny resemblance to Queen and David Bowie's iconic track, "Under Pressure." This musical mystery sparked heated debates and copyright battles that still resonate today. In this article, we journeyed through time to unravel the truth behind the allegations: Did Vanilla Ice rip off Queen?

A Musical Duel: "Under Pressure" vs "Ice Ice Baby"

Before diving into the copyright problem, consider the two songs in question.

  • "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie: Released in 1981, this timeless classic features Freddie Mercury's soulful vocals and the legendary guitar work of Brian May. Its bassline, played by John Deacon, is the song's heart, driving the rhythm and delivering an unforgettable hook.

  • "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice: In 1990, Vanilla Ice burst onto the music scene with "Ice Ice Baby." The song catapulted him to stardom and became an instant hit. But listeners couldn't help but notice the striking resemblance between its bassline and that of "Under Pressure."

The Bassline Battle

The heart of the controversy lies in the bassline, that infectious groove that hooks listeners from the first note. When comparing the basslines of "Under Pressure" and "Ice Ice Baby," the similarities are undeniable. Both feature a distinctive series of notes, and this similarity raised eyebrows in the music world.

Vanilla Ice initially argued that his bassline differed slightly from Queen and Bowie's, but it didn't take a music expert to hear the parallels. The debate quickly escalated, drawing in legal experts, musicologists, and enthusiasts.

The Legal Confrontation

With allegations of copyright infringement looming, Vanilla Ice found himself in a precarious position. Queen and Bowie's bassline was undeniably similar, but would it hold up in court as plagiarism?

Ultimately, the parties involved settled the matter out of court, with Vanilla Ice agreeing to pay a substantial sum to Queen and Bowie and granting them songwriting credits on "Ice Ice Baby." The legal battle was over, but the debate continued among fans and critics.

Inspiration or Imitation?

So, did Vanilla Ice rip off Queen, or was it a case of creative inspiration? Music has a long history of artists drawing inspiration from their predecessors, often leading to new and exciting creations. In this case, it's essential to consider that Vanilla Ice did introduce his lyrics, style, and production to "Ice Ice Baby." The song became a cultural phenomenon in its own right, and many remember it more for its catchy chorus and rap verses than its bassline.


The Vanilla Ice vs. Queen and Bowie saga remains a captivating chapter in the annals of music history. While the copyright issue was settled in court, the debate over artistic influence, homage, and imitation in the music industry continues today.

Perhaps, instead of seeing this as a case of theft, we should view it as a testament to the enduring power of music. "Ice Ice Baby" and "Under Pressure" are beloved tracks that have left an indelible mark on pop culture. They remind us that music is a constantly evolving art form where inspiration can arise from the unlikeliest places.

As we groove to the tunes of these iconic songs, we can appreciate the rich tapestry of musical history, where even legal disputes can't diminish the magic of music. After all, in art, the lines between imitation and innovation have always been deliciously blurred.


bottom of page