I like Muse. A lot. There. I said it.
You see, the band has plenty of critics. Admitting that you actually don't mind the grandiloquence of Matt Bellamy and Co. — well, that's not easy. The group's evolution in rock opera in the last couple of records is a major reason why. The music and message is theatrical/dramatic and pompous. It's also just not easy to listen to. The progressive nature of the band and its music demands more from a listener. And, quite frankly, sometimes you just don't want to think too much about what you're listening to.
All that being true, Muse is excellent. There's no other band capable of playing with their emotion, volume and precision. It's outstanding that a three-piece (a fourth member tours as a keyboardist) can create such an atmosphere. I had the pleasure of seeing them when their Absolution tour rolled into Austin in 2005. It's easily in my top three shows of all time — and not because they wrecked their gear (evidence, that poor, beautiful Pedulla bass gets trashed). Rather, it was memorable because the set was nonstop energy. The performance was engrossing and seemingly passed in the blink of an eye. That's the sign of an excellent show; not once did I pause to consider something beyond the spiraling loops of arpeggiated chords, lock-step rhythm section and skyscraping falsetto.
So, enter "Survival," a very dramatic, sweeping tune that captures the essence of the Olympics. The explanation of the tune is interesting, as related to Entertainment.ie:
"The lyrics of the song are kind of related to the struggle against losing energy and this desire to survive and determination", continued frontman . "When we actually finished the album, we got a call from the Olympics saying they wanted us to play at the ending ceremony and they asked us what we’d like to play and we said well this is the song that we kinda thought may have been suitable for the Olympics in the first place; maybe we should play this song. They came and listened to it and we started talking about how we were gonna play at the show and everything. They loved the song and at that point they said oh we think this will be a great song for the Olympics and it just seemed like a really unusual coincidence. It was kinda full circle really that came back to the beginning again."
I'll say this: The video makes the song much less cheesy. Without it, I probably would not be typing these words. It's an inspiring piece of video editing — pairing the performances and emotions of elite athletes on the world's biggest stage with the inspired music of arguably the greatest rock band in the world. It's hard to not want to do something incredible — something of Olympic caliber — after watching it.
What else?• If you're not that familiar with Muse, I recommend you start out with "Origin of Symmetry." I consider it the band's finest effort — a bold musical statement that prominently displays classical influence and some of the greatest bass-driven rock riffs. What's funny: The group's stateside label, Maverick, refused to release it in America until its successor, "Absolution," became a hit in 2004. I procured the British import in 2001 and played the hell out of it. Still do, in fact.
• If you prefer the band's most recent offerings — "Black Holes and Revelations" and "The Resistance" — then you're in luck. The new album, "The 2nd Law," is set for an Oct. 1 release. Just a warning: The band has been listening to Skrillex.