The Hard Rocking and Classical Swaying of Muse

Having been fabricated through the influence of several music genres, Rock n’ Roll has the capability to seamlessly evolve from one generation to the next. The unexpected nature of the music, as well as the unpredictable sound being produced by the musicians, evokes an appetite rock n’ roll listeners develop while hearing these innovative sounds, and in turn, keeps them coming back for more. Muse is not only a rock band that has been praised for their experimental sound and earth shattering live performances, but  are three individual musicians who strive to electrify their audience with music that awakens their perception of what rock n’ roll truly is.

Growing up in Devon, England, Mathew Bellamy, Dominic Howard, and Chris Wolstenholme formed their first incarnation of Muse at the early age of thirteen. Bellamy recalls his introduction to Jimi Hendrix as the commencement into his guitar obsession. His father, George Bellamy, was the guitarist for the 1950’s band, The Tornados and influenced Matthew’s decision to pursue music as a career.  Howard, however, did not grow up in a musical family and became knowledgeable about the drums through his high school Jazz band. Similarly, Wolstenholme was not the product of musical parents but was greatly influenced by his mother’s musical taste. Beginning as a drummer, he transitioned to the bass after teaming up with Bellamy and Howard to form their initial band, The Rocket Baby dolls.

Following their triumph at a battle of the bands contest, it became apparent to Bellamy, Howard, and Wolstenholme that music was to be their chosen career path. It was at this time that the name Muse materialized and the grunge music erupting in the US proved to be a major influence to the sound in the band’s first album, Showbiz. Despite the several positive reviews, Muse endured constant scrutiny for their similarities to the band, Radio Head. Having been unequivocally underrated, Muse sought recognition for their music which led them to the creation of their second album, Origin of Symmetry.

This album exposed the innovative genius that is Muse. Their signature heavy rock sound was elevated with the introduction of a church organ, enhanced use of Bellamy’s piano capabilities, and the unveiling of his outstanding vocal range. The music made an apparent shift from a sort of grounded intensity to an overwhelming shock to your senses. With songs like “Plug in Baby,” “New Born,” and “Hyper Music” it became evident that Muse wasn’t just any band and that this music was like nothing rock fans had heard before.

Maverick, Muse’s record label at the time, disapproved of Bellamy’s vocals, declaring them as not “radio-friendly.” After asking the band to change their songs prior to the US release date, Muse declined and left Maverick altogether.

Remaining underappreciated in the US, Muse’s fan base grew exponentially throughout Europe and Asia. The band went on to release Absolution which followed in Origin of Symmetry’s footsteps and continued to blend classical influences with hard rock sounds. Absolution rid Muse of the Radio Head comparisons once and for all and began their legacy as an arena rock band as well as opened doors in the United States that had previously been slammed shut.

Black Holes and Revelations is considered by some to be Muse’s most diverse album with songs ranging from hard rock, funk, electronic, and classical. A major theme of this album was to compliment the three piece act and to display the amount of noise and energy three musicians can bring to a stage. While touring this album, Muse became the first act to sell out the new Wembley Stadium, selling 180,000 tickets in two nights.

At last Muse was ascending to the top of the ladder; exposing that their resilience and dedication to their sound was paying off. Their next album, The Resistance debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 128,000 copies in the first week. Muse received praise for their heavy classical music influence which included songs that encompassed entire orchestras as well as intricate piano solos.

Their sixth studio album, The 2nd Law proved that Muse’s ambition was what propelled them forward throughout their career and awarded them with music unlike any other artist. Wolstenholme stepped out from behind the bass to sing two songs on the album, “Save Me” and “Liquid State” which added a fresh take to the music and voice we have become accustomed to hearing.

The most recent album, Drones encompasses the best of Muse with outstanding guitar riffs, lyrics influenced by conspiracy theories and politics, and our favorite sort of hard rock shaking/ classical music swaying music that Muse has proven to be king at providing. They also upped their live performance game (which was by no means lacking) with actual drones flying throughout the stadium.

Often being called the best live performance to date, Muse has made a permanent imprint onto rock and roll music. Despite how other’s initially perceived them, Muse strove to be innovative and never jeopardized their musical integrity, which many of today’s musicians cannot say. Combining the likes of funk, classical, gospel, and electronic music to make a rock n’ roll album is not a conventional thought, but to Muse it could never have been any other way.

–Victoria Shaffer

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