Incumbent Eurovision champions Ukraine have just revealed their entry for this year’s competition and the chorus couldn’t sound more like Muse if they’d hired Matt Bellamy himself to write it. Though that might seem a little leftfield for a famously kitsch TV pop contest, there’s some evidence to suggest that Muse is actually the quintessential Eurovision band…
Camp operatics; tight, glittery shirts; ostentatious stage shows with crazy graphics and dancing ninjas. Sounds just like Eurovision, right? Well, yes. It does. But it also sounds a lot like the last Muse tour as well.
The multi-platinum act who sound like Queen and act like U2, Muse might like to believe that they are a million miles removed from the primetime entertainment of the ESC, but they are in fact perfect Eurovision fodder.
It’s not just the fancy stage shows and the ham-fisted attempts at political lyrics that make them so well suited to for it either. Muse’s melodies and musical stylings have been rife in the competition since the turn of the century.
2001 – Nuša Derenda
Muse’s debut single, Uno, was released in 1999. It didn’t do exactly set the charts alight (it only managed to make number 73) but it clearly had a huge impact in Slovenia.
Their 2001 Eurovision entry, Energy, not only had the same sort of hard-tango feel to it, it also copied the chord progression and a fair bit of the phrasing. Toss in the same sort of crunchy distortion and one of those classical piano arpeggio interludes that Bellamy and the boys like to drop every now and again and bingo!
You have a song that places 7th in the final.
2012 – Paula And Ovi
With the exception of Paula’s “Ooh, boy / ’til we drop” (which is straight out of the Cheeky Girls’ Touch My Bum) almost everything about Romania’s 2012 entry Playing With Fire could have been lifted wholesale from Muse’s mid-2000s career.
The radio-friendly production, the staccato rhythms and – most notably – the stadium-filling chorus: this is prime Absolution/Black Holes & Revelations-era Muse. And if you can’t imagine Bellamy letting rip on Paula’s top note of “Are you running away?” then there will be no convincing you of anything.
It came third on the night, with 162 points.
2012 – MaNga
2012 was a big year for Muse influences. Not only does MaNga’s We Could Be The Same use the same sort of scales and harmonies that the band experimented with on the second half of the Black Holes And Revelations album, and the sort of pizzicato strings that crop up in the verses of Undisclosed Desires.
It came second on the night – with 170 points (eight points ahead of Paula and Ovi).
And with those shogun warriors on a black gloss stage, MaNga’s entire stage show looked like it could have been an unreleased Muse video.
2014 – Cristina Scarlat
2014 was that weird year when everyone at Eurovision decided to try their hands at a bit of dubstep.
Moldova took Muse’s cue and entered this moody, swirling number which put lyrics and a few wubs and dubs over the outro riff of one of Muse’s early singles Muscle Museum.
2015 – John Karayiannis
It’s not all just pompous space-rock either. Muse do slow ballads too – which also have a place at Eurovision.
One of their slower efforts (Falling Away With You) shared a very similar guitar line to One Thing I Should Have Done, by Cyprus’s premier Zane Lowe lookalike John Karayiannis
Compare those two intros…
2017 – O.Torvald
Ukraine won the Eurovision last year, against all odds, with a moody, trippy song about war crimes. Not exactly the out-and-out pop people expect from the contest – but that’s often what it takes to cut through.
Though they probably don’t stand much of a chance to keep the crown at this year’s competition, they’re showing a lot more initiative than most by entering another eerily similar Muse sound-a-like.
2018 – ?
It’s too late for 2017, unfortunately, but what could this mean for next year?
– They’re a UK band.
– At the rate Muse have been releasing albums this last decade (once every three years or so) we should be due a new LP from them in 2018.
– Muse have a huge European following, with their last album (Drones) getting to Number One in the Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Norwegian and Swiss charts; Number Two in the Austrian, Belgian, Italian and Swedish charts; and Number Three in Germany, Greece, Hungary and Spain while also going Platinum in the Czech Republic and Russia.
– Their music has (albeit indirectly) resulted in some very impressive scores in the competition.
– As performers with a propensity for elaborate and explosive stage shows, they’ll need next to no practice for the live show.
Will it happen? Of course not. But if anyone ever tells you that the UK doesn’t have what it takes to win the Eurovision, then they’re wrong. We’ve had it all along…