Opening Tracks of Every Muse Album, Ranked
July 7, 2015 Leave a Comment
It’s totally unfair to judge an entire album by its first song. So today we’re doing exactly that.
An opening track introduces an album, even when that album is just a collection of songs rather than a narrative or variations on a theme. There’s an art to putting a playlist together, and headlining one is a big responsibility. None of these songs are bad of course; some are just less good, or less good at being first.
8. Dead Inside (Drones, 2015)
It’s appropriate that a song called “Dead Inside” is emotionally pretty flat, but appropriate doesn’t make for a rousing introductory anthem. Even the pleading bridge two-thirds of the way through is still quite regimented and restrained. More of a thinkpiece. It just came out, so it’s possible I simply haven’t warmed to it yet.
7. Uprising (The Resistance, 2009)
A literal call for revolution with clearly defined musical themes and sections. A bit jaunty though. Drugs, disinformation, and mind control feature heavily, as do background vocals exhorting “Hey!” and “So come on!” like toppling government is a keen new dance craze.
6. Forced In (Hullabaloo Soundtrack, 2002)
Yeah, Hullabaloo counts, because it’s great. Track 1 is spooky, slow on the uptake, and cryptic. Nothing resembling rhythm or volume until after the 30-second mark. The lyrics are so distorted as to be indecipherable – but that works in its favor. Later sounds melt and break down as the song can’t even hold itself together.
5. Intro/Apocalypse Please (Absolution, 2003)
Come on, it’s one song. It’s also no mystery. It is literally the end of the world. (Source: the refrain “This is the end of the world” repeated several times.) Follow-on tunes about kissing and missing and “all of the love we left behind” are totally not clues to an overwrought breakup tale since songwriters are not known for such extravagances.
4. New Born (Origin of Symmetry, 2001)
Conventional wisdom probably puts “New Born” higher up than #4 on rankings of all Muse songs period, much less opening tracks. “New Born” is so good they made it again and called it “Unnatural Selection” on The Resistance. “New Born” exhorts listeners to “destroy the spineless” but you have to suspect just the sneer with which the words come out has already done that. Why isn’t it my number 1? I don’t really like babies.
3. Sunburn (Showbiz, 1999)
The first track of the first album, and what a way to begin. “We’re a hard rock band so we’re starting with a broken piano chord,” it says. “Don’t worry, we’ll get to wailing guitars and screaming in a minute. Like, exactly one minute.”
2. Supremacy (The 2nd Law, 2012)
Symphonic strings? Check. Volleying syncopated bass line over a steadfast and imperturbable drumbeat? Falsetto acrobatics and operatic horns joining the guitar solo, all culminating in a minor 007th chord ending sting? Check. The only real flaw of “Supremacy” is that it leads into “Madness”.
1. Take A Bow (Black Holes and Revelations, 2006)
Starting out entirely electronic and subdued, “Take A Bow” brings the dread with ominous, cavernous bass notes. By the time real instruments are allowed to break out more than halfway through, the disgust and furious condemnation doesn’t seem like it could get any more intense. But if there’s one thing Muse does well, it’s intense, and seething righteous hatred overwhelms everything else by the end. Good stuff.
Please disagree vehemently in the comments.