Nicholas Pegg in The Complete David Bowie (2000) thinks that the battle of wills and voices between Mercury and Bowie seesaws back and forth through 'Under Pressure', lending the speedily thrown-together track a rare magic:
Throughout, the pendulum repeatedly swings between Bowie's preening art-rock and Queen's pumped-up glam. This is the track's strength: it sounds like both a duet and a duel. "To have his ego mixed with ours was a very volatile mixture," said Brian May later, recalling that Bowie was "very aloof" during the session; "It made for a very hot time in the studio." An interesting qualification of that memory is provided by Bowie's particular friend in the group, Roger Taylor, who said in 1999 that "We'd never actually collaborated with anybody before, so certain egos were slightly bruised along the way."