Muse – Madness

It’s buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-bad-bad-bad.

When I first heard “Unsustainable”- the first track dropped from this new Muse album- I was shocked. Not because I had finally stumbled upon the progressive-black-jazz-neofolk-metal record I had been searching for my entire life, but because a progressive rock band that had once been decent some short years ago was now a poster child for mainstream, corporate garbage of the unforgivable variety. Luckily, the first true single for this album, “Madness”, is not quite as bad as my first impression with “The 2nd Law”. Unfortunately, most of the things that go right with “Madness” are thanks to Muse’s shameless plagiarism of the almighty Queen. I could call this listenable, but if this is the best thing that this Muse album has to offer, then I shall schedule post-traumatic stress therapy in advance.

Queen’s “I Want to Break Free” was a decent song- not one of their best, but pretty good. It had a cheesy-yet-endearing 80′s beat, great vocals from Mercury, and a generally catchy feel that makes it memorable, even though I haven’t heard the song in some time. It feels like no coincidence, then, that “I Want to Break Free” is the first thing that pops into my head when hearing “Madness”. I will refrain from attributing this revelation to handy detective work- Muse have virtually ripped off everything that was decent about the original song, and infused it into their mainstream, now slightly dubstep-influenced sound. The chord progression, the melodies, and even the shape of the guitar solo towards the end point out Muse as hacks. Queen has always been an influence on Muse, but- intentional or accidental- it’s pretty lame that they would have gone this far with it.

Like I said, “Madness” is listenable, but I suspect that it is so largely because of the plagiarism. The last minute begins to hint at some interesting vocal arrangements, but for my money, this is a fairly sappy pop tune. Even so, I still get the haunting feeling that I’ll be calling this one of the album’s highlights when the fateful time comes.

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