Muse: Why The Hate

The comments in The Guardian’s Muse: 10 of the best have predictably filled up with drive-by trolls dismissing them as “shite”.

What is it about Muse that attracts the haters? Is it just that the self-appointed elitists hate anything that’s successful and popular? Or is there more to it than that?

There are of course many, many bands who are far better than Muse when it comes to pressing all the right buttons for specific niche audiences. But when it comes to bands who have reached the level when they can play stadiums and headline major festivals, there is a strong argument that Muse are the best band of their generation.

My theory is that the division of Britain’s music scene into separate indie/alternative and rock/metal tribes that seldom mix is a major factor. Muse are one major-league act who stand defiantly with one foot in both camps. They’re a band at ease with headining both Glastonbury and Download. They combine Jeff Buckley-style vocals with flamboyant guitar solos. And that offends the tribal purists in both camps.

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6 Responses to Muse: Why The Hate

  1. I quite like them! As you say, they straddle genres which is what I think makes them appeal to the general listener, yet the purists won’t be happy with any of it. I know that if I decide to play them in the car, I won’t get told to turn it off, which is more than can be said for the more niche stuff I listen to. That said, their latest album didn’t blow me away in the same way that previous ones did. It’s possibly a grower, but I’ve only had the one listen so far.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Not just me, then. I’v given “Drones” quite a few listens, and it hasn’t quite grabbed me the way the last one did. Nothing bad about it, but doesn’t quite have the over-the-topness of 2nd Law.

  3. My other half said she thought they were trying too hard to be clever/different instead of just sticking to what they know they’re good at. To me, “Drones” seemed a bit bland. Especially the last couple of tracks, which I was tempted to just turn off. I loved “2nd Law” though, very over the top and pompous.

  4. Tim Hall says:

    “Their idea of restraint is holding back the choir until the second verse”, as Alexis Petridis said in his review of 2nd Law.

    I think they’d taken it as far as they could in that direction, and reached the point where reining it in and rocking out instead was the better option.

  5. David Meadows says:

    I personally think that all the best bands are those which straddle genres. After all, isn’t that essentially what Prog rock is? (Or maybe was, before it became its own genre.)

    I quite like Muse. Not in a must-buy-every-album-and-go-to-gigs sort of way, but I quite like them.

  6. Chuk says:

    I’ve only seen them once, pretty good stuff and they had a great stage show. I will third or fourth the opinion that the new album is not as good (I’ve only heard it twice…maybe I’ll go listen again.)