Muse are due for a big summer in 2016 with a headline slot at Glastonbury already announced – but what’s their best ever lyric? Amid all the guitar histrionics and epic spectacle the British trio have made their trademark, Matt Bellamy’s knack for a nuanced lyric often goes overlooked. Here’s 10 of our favourite lines from the group’s seven albums to date.
Released in 2009 at the height of the recession, ‘Uprising’ was Bellamy’s own attack on the banks and politicians and the first song from their most bombastic album yet – ‘Resistance’. It lashes out at authoritative figures who we’re programmed to trust but shouldn’t (“another packaged lie to keep us trapped in greed.”) Now, how about Matt Bellamy making an appearance on Newsnight?
Similar to ‘Starlight’ – a rare moment of pure joy for Bellamy and his fellow conspiracy theorists. The song seems to be about envying and admiring another person’s optimism, with Bellamy being inspired by the infectious joy of someone far happier than he.
8 ‘Supermassive Black Hole’
Bellamy reckons falling for a woman, according to this track, is like being sucked into a Black Hole in Space. Take his vocals off the song and what you’re left with is a straight-up pop belter, which could easily have suited a Kylie or Britney treatment. Taking lyrical meaning theories one step further ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ could in fact be an ironic winking commentary on the way in which we all become seduced by such female superstars. That’s probably a tad too ridiculous for even Muse, though.
7 ‘Time Is Running Out’
One of their biggest singles – and their first to land in the UK chart Top 10 – ‘Time Is Running Out’ is about that suffocating sense of approaching doom. Matt Bellamy has previously spoken about the song’s wide multi-layered definition, applicable to any scenario. It could be a reflection on society at large, or a very specific relationship whereby you feel strapped over a barrel by your manipulator… At worst, it’s about approaching death. A light pop song, then.
A love song! Inspired by The Strokes! What’s going on? The lyrics lent themselves to the title of 2006 album ‘Black Holes And Revelations’ and had Matt Bellamy sounding optimistic for once, perhaps affected by newfound happiness in his personal life. “I just wanted to hold you in my arms,” he rejoices. The line “of the people who care if I live or die” is thought to be an homage to The Smiths’ ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’.
5 ‘Citizen Erased’
The centerpiece for 2001 album ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ is about forgetting what’s gone before and exploring new worlds uninhibited and “open-minded” – the way Bellamy attests we used to before being corrupted by our leaders. It’s arguably a reference to George Orwell’s ‘1984’ where members of society were erased and people were controlled by totalitarian fear. Most importantly, the accompanying percussion from Dom Howard is petrifyingly heavy.
4 ‘Plug In Baby’
One of Muse’s most well-loved songs ‘Plug In Baby’ is about man versus technology. One of Bellamy’s fixations is the good vs evil aspect of modern life, whether advancements in science are benefitting or derailing us as a race. Here he suggests it’s a hindrance; rather than using our own energies to fight for the things we believe in we’re happy to default to lifeless robots who do the job on our behalf. But to what end? Before you get really paranoid ease your mind with the memory of the time Bellamy was interviewed in Australia and forgot what the song was about.
3 ‘Muscle Museum’
A nod to the toilet circuit of their early gigging, a process Muse were no strangers to as an ambitious trio from Teignmouth in the mid-’90s. In spite of their doubters Muse would go on to headline the likes of Glastonbury and London’s Emirates Stadium on their way to becoming one of, if not the, greatest live band on Earth. Bellamy has revealed this song to be about the dichotomy between the physical and the mental, and a theory that human beings may eventually cease to have bodies. He used a dictionary when writing their first songs.
2 ‘Knights Of Cydonia’
Cydonia is a region of Mars first photographed by the ‘Viking’ spacecraft on NASA’s first ever landing mission there. On this final track from 2006 album ‘Black Holes And Revelations’, Matt Bellamy’s spaghetti western riffs sound like they’re riding on some extra-terrestrial New Age horse-and-carriage to the Red Planet, particularly as the track climaxes to screams of “No one’s gonna take me alive!” The song, put simply, is about ignoring authority and going your own way, whether that’s down the local pub or towards the final frontier.
1 ‘Apocalypse Please’
A crie de couer from Matt Bellamy kicking off their end-of-the-world themed third album ‘Absolution’, with a goading search for something earth-shattering to save everyone from eternal despair. It proves an endless quest for Bellamy and his cohorts, with notions of impending doom plaguing much of their future output. (Obviously a sense of the end being nigh is a great accompaniment for some of the biggest riffs and piano drama in stadium rock). Muse’s producer Rich Costey noted that he was inspired to work with the band here because they were “completely fearless”.