As is so often the case, Alex Ross started it. He claims to hear Queen's "We Will Rock You" in Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. Fair enough. Bryant Manning, here in Chicago, claims to hear another classical antecedent in Queen, this time in the bass line to the Queen/David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure." It's the repeated note followed by a drop of a perfect fourth, which you can see here. (Spondee-dactyl-spondee, for those who know their poetic feet.)* Manning also hears Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" in that bass line, and as a bored-out-of-my-mind afternoon spent watching a VH1 interview with Vanilla Ice confirmed more than 10 years ago, even Ice himself admits that. I recall Vanilla claimed he was different because he added an eighth note pick-up to the bass line. Anyways.
Where Manning goes wrong---wrong, I tell you!---is when he traces the bass line and rhythm back further in time to Beethoven, specifically to the "Hammerklavier" Sonata's opening gesture:
Clearly, this falls but a third, and cannot be the source of the catchy bass line. That source, turned to 4/4 from 3/4 is, of course, the Scherzo of Sibelius's First Symphony. (Click to enlarge, and zoom in on the timpani in the top line):
It involves the long-long, long-short-short, long-long rhythm, and falls a fourth; you cannot argue with the evidence. Here is a YouTube of Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting that movement with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. As further buttressing of my point, I'll point out that commenter "yryriza" also thinks it sounds like "Under Pressure." This resemblance explains why, to this day, I've never been able to listen to this movement with a straight face.
Thanks to IMSLP for the musical examples.
*A spondee is long-long, not Lang Lang. (Rim shot)