Someone on Twitter said “Basslines aren't needed in songs”. Cue hilarious pile-on…

Bass headstock with twitter logo tuning pegs
(Image credit: Future)

Comedian Ricky Gervais once commented that “Twitter is like being able to read every toilet wall in the world.” He’s not wrong. Twitter account Anon Opin (opens in new tab) posts the “occasionally unpopular” opinions of anonymous users. It’s often funny and almost guaranteed to annoy at least once a week. And so it came to pass that just before Christmas, the following message was posted:

"Basslines aren't needed in songs. No-one listens to them and wouldn't even miss them anyway."

Red rag, meet bull. 

Bearing in mind that almost everything on Twitter descends into a furious argument, what was unique about the responses was how in agreement they all were. And how funny.

“Who are you,” asked Derek Duffy, “the dad out of Footloose?”

“Speak for yourself, Lars,” said Neil Cole.

“Tell me you're white without telling me you're white,” was one of our favorites, as was: “Tell me you only listen to music through your phone's speakers without saying you only listen to music through your phone's speakers.” 

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“Whoever wrote this should be exposed, arrested and sent to The Hague on trial for war crimes,” said one.

“Hmm. Interesting take,” said another, “I’m going to delete all the basslines from your favorite songs and then watch as your soul – starved of the life-giving moisture of bass – slowly but irresistibly begins to desiccate and shrivel, shrinking and wrinkling like a forgotten, unloved prune…”

"She Bangs the Drum by the Stone Roses and Billie Jean by MJ [Michael Jackson] would just basically be empty,” agreed another.

“Agreed, Another One Bites The Dust and Under Pressure would be sooo much better without the bass,“ said a sarky Ben Grimm.

“Bass lines provide rhythmic stability and melodic coherence,” said a more serious-minded Liam Grundy. “A bass line is vital.”

Musician Steve commented: “I’m a professional musician who uses a looper. I have a pedal on my board that simulates bass and I only ever play bass root notes on my loops but it utterly transforms the sound. No bass is like having a body with no skin.”

Even drummers came to our defence: “This is 100% incorrect. Without the bassline, the harmony of the other instruments no longer has context. As a professional drummer, I'd rather hear a band without drums than without bass, in any genre.”

“Are your ears painted on?” asked one.

But the winner has got to be Paul Townshend who simply posted a screen grab to this story on the NME (opens in new tab): “A new scientific study has found that the most important member of any band is in fact, the bassist,” it reads. 

The story is based on this report (opens in new tab) from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that found that the human brain "finds it easier to find and understand rhythm when it is played at a lower tone, such as on a bass – and that people are more likely to dance, tap their feet and respond rhythmically to songs with more prominent bass than they are to higher-pitched instruments such as guitar and drums".

So that's that argument solved – by science.

Read the whole Twitter thread here (opens in new tab)

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Tom Poak has written for the Hull Daily Mail, Esquire, The Big Issue, Total Guitar, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and more. In a writing career that has spanned decades, he has interviewed Brian May, Brian Cant, and cadged a light off Brian Molko. He has stood on a glacier with Thunder, in a forest by a fjord with Ozzy and Slash, and on the roof of the Houses of Parliament with Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham (until some nice men with guns came and told them to get down). He has drank with Shane MacGowan, mortally offended Lightning Seed Ian Broudie and been asked if he was homeless by Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch.