is an English alternative/new-prog rock band formed in 1994 by vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Bellamy, bassist Christopher Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard.
They have released six studio albums thus far, with The 2nd Law
the most recent on October 1, 2012. With regard to singles, the band has been successful in both their home country — where they've had 17 Top 40 singles — and American alternative radio, where they have ten Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot Alternative Tracks (formerly Hot Modern Rock Tracks) chart.
The band has had three major breakthrough periods in the United States: The first was with their single "Time is Running Out" in 2003, which began their aforementioned string of ten Top 40 Alternative Tracks singles. The second came with the appearance of their 2½-year-old single "Supermassive Black Hole" in the film version of Twilight
. The third was their performance of "Uprising" at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards — easily the most exposure they've ever gotten in the United States — which caused "Uprising" to peak at #37 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Their music video for "Knights of Cydonia
" has its own page, which should tell you something
Fun fact: the band was originally called the Rocket Baby Dolls after a Hentai
. Puts a whole new context
to "Plug In Baby", doesn't it?
"Survival," a song from The 2nd Law
, was adopted as the theme tune for the 2012 Olympics, and "Isolated System" was adopted as the theme for World War Z
Their albums are:
- Showbiz (1999)
- Origin of Symmetry (2001, although not released in the United States until 2005, see below)
- Hullabaloo Soundtrack (2002, a combination live album and B-sides collection)
- Absolution (2003)
- Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
- HAARP (2008, second live album)
- The Resistance (2009)
- The 2nd Law (2012)
- Live from Rome Olympic Stadium (2013, third live album)
This band and their music provide examples of:
- An Aesop: Their fifth album, The Resistance, has a three-part symphony at the end of the album entitled "Exogenesis" which speaks of mankind abandoning a post-apocalyptic, dystopian Earth in order to re-populate and spread their kind across other planets in the universe in order to keep their species alive. Good idea at first, one can think, and that's how it's believed throughout the first two parts. Too bad that by the third part, mankind realizes that the reason they left Earth and they're all together in this mess is that they botched it in the first place, so chances are it'll all become a cycle unless mankind changes its disruptive ways.
- There's a lot of hope in the third part, which is titled 'Redemption'. A major part of redemption is recognizing that yes you've done the wrong thing, but also that you can still change before it's too late. There can't be redemption without that commitment to do better.
- The entire Aesop of The 2nd Law is that the rich, greedy and short-sighted elite are dooming the species to self-destruction. A comparison with the second law of thermodynamics is made, where Earth is an isolated system and the entropy of that system is only increasing because of humanity's self-indulgent apathy. It's similar to the message of "Exogenesis", but far more cynical in its presentation.
- Album Title Drop: Black Holes and Revelations is a lyric in their song "Starlight".
- Absolution appears in the title and lyrics of "Sing for Absolution".
- The Resistance appears in the title and lyrics of "Resistance".
- The Alcoholic: Chris admitted once to being a "raging alcoholic". He wrote two songs on The 2nd Law, "Save Me" and "Liquid State" that confront this issue directly.
- Audience Participation Song: "Knights of Cydonia". All together now: NO-ONE'S GONNA TAKE ME ALIVE!
- "Starlight" has a famous clap to go with it, which spells out "tits" in Morse code.
- Also from "Starlight", 'Our hopes and expectaaaations, black holes and revelaaaations....'
- "Uprising": 'They will not force us...' It also has a clap to go with it.
- From "Time is Running Out": 'Bury it, I won't let you bury it...'
- Band Name Drop: "You are my muse", in I Belong to You [+Mon Coeur S'Ouvre à Ta Voix]. Easily missed; the entirety of "Mon Coeur S'ouvre à Ta Voix" occurs between "Mu" and "se", which are blended into the vocalization.
- Badass Longcoat: Matthew James Bellamy, in multiple music videos and live shows.
- Bears Are Bad News: Teddy bear uprising FTW.
- Bizarre Instrument: That weird guitar thing Christ plays in "Madness" is called a Kitara bass version.
- BSOD Song: "Micro Cuts".
- Cluster F-Bomb: The hidden track on the Starlight DVD. Commonly referred to as 'You Fucking Motherfucker' in fan circles. Also counts as an absolutely massive Cluster of Atomic F Bombs.
- Once the band was asked not curse during a Origin of Symmetry-era Spanish TV performance. Taking offense at this due to the lack of profanities in their songs, Matt changed an entire verse of "Feeling Good" to this. Hilarity ensues.
- Concept Album: Black Holes and Revelations is about space and astronomical concepts, as well as intense emotions such as love. The Resistance is a straighter example, with many songs directly inspired by 1984.
- Conspiracy Theorist: In Matthew Bellamy's own words to a German magazine:
"I've always been interested in conspiracy theories. There is much information withheld from the people for sure. Including myself, so I'm not saying that I know about them. I've read much about it prior to the album production. Some things are just bollocks, other things are quite interesting. I like this narrow line. Many songs on [Black Holes and Revelations] deal with conspiracy theories or the formation of a world government, a topic which has been discussed in the last fifty years. Other songs are about control and how the media is purposely influencing and trying to keep us off from the truth. Methods that keep people off from questioning things and issues. Inventions and technologies bottled up in order to be able to use them later in military. I'm interested in all this, and it influenced the album."
- Cosplay: Dom is known to often wear a Spider-Man costume (normally sans mask) during live performances. Smaller examples are Chris' Captain America costume and the outfits worn by the band during the encore of their concert on Halloween 2009: Matt was a vampire, Chris was Batman with light-up horns, and Dom was, predictably, Spider-Man.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Matt Bellamy is afflicted with this while singing and while speaking. This performance of "Time Is Running Out" shows it off quite well. His pronunciation of the word "proper" ("pwopah") is a meme in Muse fandom.
- On some songs ("The Small Print," for one) he sounds a bit like he's spitting into the mic.
- Epic Rocking: The band's longest (one-part) song to date is "Citizen Erased" at 7:19, which, while quite long, is not entirely unreasonable.
- "Citizen Erased" seamlessly runs into "Micro Cuts"; the combined song is both awesome and around 11 minutes.
- The three-part closing song to The Resistance, "Exogenesis: Symphony," forms a 13-minute long song when all three parts are played one after the other. The trend continues with The 2nd Law, closing with a two-part Title Track whose two halves total 8:48.
- E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: According to a German interview quoted on the Muse Wiki, Matthew Bellamy wrote "Exo-Politics" about "a trade agreement between the US government and extraterrestials, about the use of new technologies," although he has not been entirely consistent on that line.
- Everything Is an Instrument: Matt once played guitar with a fan's shoe.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Matthew Bellamy.
- Fading into the Next Song: Most notably on Origin of Symmetry: Citizen Erased blends seamlessly into Micro Cuts.
- Space Dementia into Hyper Music into Plug in Baby. Whoa.
- Falling Away With You into Interlude into Hysteria. Perfection.
- If you listen closely to the end of Uprising, the beginning of Resistance can be heard - it's faint but present. A similar segue occurs between "Cave" and the title track on Showbiz.
- Fanservice: In the otherwise unsexy "Undisclosed Desires" video there is a gratuitous lingering shot of Dom Howard's buttocks. That this is done while Matt Bellamy is singing "Please me," might make it Ho Yay.
- Genre-Busting: What the hell is the song's, "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable," genre? Orchestral rockstep?
- Government Conspiracy: "Exo-Politics", taken at face value, is about the government cooperating with aliens from the Zeta Reticuli system in a massive mind control conspiracy. Matthew Bellamy has alternately confirmed this interpretation, or highlighted how alien theories cover up real military conspiracies at sites like Area 51. Either way, he clearly believes the US government is up to no good.
- The live album HAARP takes its name and stage design from the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, a US government-funded weather research station in Alaska. In an interview with Q, Bellamy quoted a number of conspiracy theories about the project, before claiming to have chosen the design because "it just looks really cool."
- The song "MK Ultra" was inspired by the secret CIA behavioural engineering project that, since its public revelation in 1975, has become a favourite target of conspiracy theorists.
- Gratuitous Panning: "Micro Cuts" during its solo.
- Guyliner: The "Supermassive Black Hole" video.
- Incredibly Long Note: "Falling Away With You".
- "Prague" more than any other song played by the band.
- "City of Delusion" also has a pretty long one.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: "Micro Cuts".
- Taken Up to Eleven in the song "Execution Commentary", which makes "Micro Cuts" sound clear by comparison. Even the official Muse wiki list the lyrics as "indecipherable screaming".
- Also present in "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 (Overture)".
- In the Style of...:
- "Feeling Good", a fairly standard showtune, now a new-prog song.
- "Who Knows Who", a collaboration with rapper The Streets; a Rage Against the Machine-esque b-side to "Uprising".
- "I Belong to You (+Mon cœur s'ouvre a ta voix)" features a french bit that covers Maria Callas' "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix"
- Kaleidoscope Hair: Matt often dyed his hair various colors during the Origin Of Symmetry period, notably red, blue, and blond.
- La Résistance: Considering their 2009 album is titled The Resistance, this seems appropriate.
- Large Ham: Oh dear God, Matt Bellamy. You want proof? Listen to Apocalypse Please. Or Bliss. Or Knights of Cydonia. Or United States of Eurasia. Or Plug In Baby. Or Showbiz. Or Neutron Star Collision. Or Space Dementia. Or House of the Rising Sun. And ESPECIALLY Prague and Survival.
- Last Note Nightmare: "Eternally Missed" ends with some incredibly creepy whispering. Also, the Scare Chord towards the end of "Space Dementia".
- That creepy synthy "Ohhhhhhh" at the end of "New Born," which is literally cut off at the very end.
- Downplayed in "Supremacy," where the "nightmare" only lasts for about eight seconds after the false ending.
- "Ruled by Secrecy"'s creepy countdown at the end could be considered one. Or, indeed, the whole song.
- Long Runner Line Up: The band has had the same lineup ever since they formed in 1993.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Many of their songs, but one of the biggest examples is "Thoughts of a Dying Atheist" from Absolution.
- Another one of their more interesting examples are; Map Of the Problematique's lyric indicate wanting to stay with someone and sort it out, and the music is heavy of the runaway and momentum base.
- "Starlight" is on par with "Thoughts of a Dying Atheist". The verses, in particular, seem to indicate rather dark suicidal thoughts, with that glossy piano playing over it.
- Mind Screw: Many of their lyrics.
- "Exo-Politics", once one finds out the inspiration for this song. Good luck finding out though.
- Space Dementia has the aforementioned Last Note Nightmare and superbly creepy lyrics. Micro Cuts is just nightmarish, and the indecipherable lyrics and pained falsetto don't help either.
- "Plug-In Baby" is reputedly about either a sex doll or genetically engineered puppies which never grow old. But Matt was on 'shrooms when he recorded it, so he doesn't even remember.
- "Screenager" is very creepy, not helped when you find out that bones were used for percussion.
- The guitar parts on the B-Side "Host" are fairly haunting, listening to the song alone at night is probably not advisable.
- With that in mind, Recess, Shrinking Universe and Con-science are all extremely creepy.
- When Matt breathes in the song Dead Star, it isn't so much breathing as a disgusting, horrifying slurp. Really uncomfortable, very creepy.
- The same thing happens in New Born, as well as Time Is Running Out where the lyrics "asphyxiated" and "I know I'm trapped" really create a tense atmosphere that is completely at odds with most other hit singles of the time.
- Miniscule Rocking: Intro, Interlude, Prelude and the Starlight hidden track.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: The band ranges from 1-2 ("Blackout", "Falling Down") to 6-7 ("New Born", "Hyper Music", "Follow Me") whilst maybe pushing into 8 territory with some of the heavier songs from Absolution ("Stockholm Syndrome", B-side "Fury"). Their typical range is, however, very hard 4-standard 5.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Their lyrics are often epic in scope, sometimes crossing heavily into Narm territory: "Take a Bow" comes to mind as an example.
- Neo Classical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: To a point. Showbiz was Radiohead-inspired alternative rock; Origin of Symmetry adopted hard rock and prog metal qualities; Absolution shifted slightly to symphonic rock whilst retaining the hard edge; Black Holes and Revelations took a poppier, electronic turn; The Resistance adopted cues from classic rock / prog rock (a la Queen) and classical music; and, The 2nd Law really plays this trope straight by borrowing aspects of a wide variety of genres, from synth-rock to symphonic prog to funk to, yes, dubstep.
- Non-Appearing Title: Zigzagged throughout their discography.
- Obsession Song: Many of their songs have undertones of this. "Endlessly" and "Hysteria" are both pretty unambiguous, however.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: So Matt is English, speaks English, but his singing doesn't even sound English. In fact it sounds like some sort of British/American... thing.
- The most noticeable exception being the rhyming of "past", "mask", and "heart" in "Undisclosed Desires".
- Matt, like the rest of the band, is from Teignmouth, Devon, which is quite a large distance from where most UK bands are from (usually London, Sheffield and Manchester). He also has a pretty noticeable speech impediment, which, when combined with his falsetto, means he doesn't really sound like anyone. But he is definitely hard to understand when interviewed because he talks so quickly.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "Soldier's Poem", a soft acoustic guitar track with vocal harmonies that could be right out of a barbershop quartet, smashed between "Map of the Problematique" and "Invincible". Apparently, they recorded it with the usual full-band arrangement, but it didn't sound quite right.
- Other instances are the bluesy "Falling Down" and Alternative Metal track "Dead Star".
- "Undisclosed Desires" starts off this way, but winds up sounding familiar by end. It's still their only song with slap bass, though, plus the only one where Matt plays neither the guitar nor the piano.
- Precision F-Strike: In "Crying Shame" (b-side for the Supermassive Black Hole single) and "Panic Station", which are the only instances of the word "fuck" in Muse's entire discography other than the absurdly over-the-top Starlight DVD hidden track. Both instances are quite shocking.
- Even though "Panic Station" only contained the one solitary F-bomb (in a less-than-sexual context, too), it was enough to slap the entire album with a Parental Advisory sticker.
- Protest Song: For a band that has some of the most incomprehensible Word Salad Lyrics out there, "Take a Bow" has a laser-focused vicious stab at various world leaders that could be the anger march of La Résistance.
- Most of their 2009 album, The Resistance, is populated by protest songs, including "Uprising".
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The chorus of "Uprising".
- Repurposed Pop Song: A Downplayed Subversion; once their cover version of "Feeling Good" was released, Nestle tried to acquire the rights to use that song in a commercial, but the band turned them down. But they used it anyway! Muse then successfully sued the company, and then promptly donated the money they got to charity.
- Rockers Smash Guitars: Matt has a freaking world record for smashing the most guitars in one tour (140 during the Absolution Tour 2004). This page chronicles the death of many of Matt's precious axes.
- Rockstar Song: "Sunburn," "Muscle Museum," "Cave," "Showbiz," and "Hate This and I'll Love You," all from Showbiz.
- Rock Trio
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Their wardrobe varies, but they◊ have◊ their◊ moments◊.
- Shout-Out: "Resistance" is based on the love subplot between Winston and Julia in 1984; the song mentions the Thought Police, and "United States of Eurasia" is very blatantly about the war between the three states from the same book.
- The video to "Time Is Running Out" is set in The War Room from Dr. Strangelove, with performers in military uniforms.
- Most of the video for Knights of Cydonia is movie references, listed on its page.
- Origin of Symmetry was titled after a concept put forward by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku in his book Hyperspace.
- Space Madness: The implied topic of the aptly named "Space Dementia".
- Step Up to the Microphone: Chris is the writer of and lead vocalist on two of the tracks from The 2nd Law, "Save Me" and "Liquid State".
- Stockholm Syndrome: One of their songs is both titled after it and based on it.
- Take That: "Falling Down" is a surprisingly bitter Take That against their home-town, Teignmouth.
- Title Track: "Showbiz." "Resistance" also counts, even if the album is technically called The Resistance. The 2nd Law ends with two.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: Invoked by "Take a Bow" and "Survival," both of which have a noticeable pitch shift between their two verses.
- Word Salad Lyrics
- X Meets Y: Muse can best be described as Queen meets Radiohead.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: "Uprising" pretends to end about three times, but each time resumes after a second's pause.