Oh. It’s this fucking song. Am I watching City TV? Why does this song make me think of City TV? Is it the slight touch of Animotion’s Obsession in the keyboard melody maybe? Whoa. And… uh… holy fucking Radiohead! Is this what Muse sound like?
So it seems that what we’ve got here is a familiar sounding yet modern, painfully Radiohead-chorused, cynical arena anthem that can obviously fuck right off. Cock rock for dudes pretending they mostly don’t have cocks? Er… OK, that’s me trying to be a bit too cute with my words, but holy shit, this song trying very hard to imagine itself as the kind of thing preening wankers would pay 70 quid a head to line up at the O2 to see. (DID I DO THAT RIGHT?).
I’d say, “No offence to anybody who actually like this band,” but we’re probably already in too deep for that, eh?
Seriously, though, this is some professional grade pandering bullshit right here. I say “professional” because production-wise it’s certainly that — like a well put-together piece of furniture its dipshit owner thinks is really bold and provocative. It’s just a sofa, Dan! The growling bass made me think for a second of Justice’s Genesis, which is easily the best thing this song has going for it. The hand claps and the big drum sounds and the unthinking metronomic “Hey” chants all work. But they work only in service of the song’s eye-roll worthy rallying to a cause so vague it’s nonexistent thing — something that made me think for some reason of P.O.D.’s Youth Of The Nation, which, as far as cynical teen-baiting trash goes, at least has a fucking discernible theme (and if I was an asshole — and I am — I’d try to argue is genuinely a better song than this).
Building a world in your lyrics where you’re a proselytizing leader rallying the cause against a nebulous “they” is some amazingly narcissistic shit and profoundly uncool. Maybe if the lyricist had something insightful to say they could pull it off, but I think that’s asking a lot from the doofus who took until 2012 to come around to the fact that 9/11 wasn’t actually an inside job.
It’s all tell and no show, like a horrible movie score that hits you over the head with the fact that this is the sad part. Only instead of telling you to be sad, Muse are telling you, with the subtlety of a piranha, that you should be uplifted by hollow sloganeering about “red tape” and “fat cats” from millionaire pop stars.
Which isn’t to say that political songs need to be subtle. There’s nothing subtle about Loretta Lynn, or Leslie Gore’s You Don’t Own Me, or Public Enemy, or Rise Above — which Uprising is essentially a wholly pompous version of — or Alternative Ulster, or What’s Going On, or Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud), or any number of other great ones.
There’s nothing particularly subtle about the gunshots or the ringing of the cash register in M.I.A.’s Paper Planes, either, but still that’s a song that is just about everything Uprising is not. It’s relatively simple and hardly slick. It has a natural singsong quality, rather than ham-handedly demanding you pump your fist along with it. It can be tongue in cheek, unsure of itself, and though the speaker’s politics are sometimes ambiguous, the song’s are not — especially being built, as it is, on the Clash’s Straight To Hell, deftly recontextualizing Joe Strummer’s “colonial melancholia.” It’s almost all show and no tell, and the product of an artist that obviously understands and is grappling with a complex and challenging world.
Uprising, on the other hand, is like Muse’s own Kony 2012 movement: a glossy, dumbed-down, black-versus-white call to action designed to make people feel good for having a vague awareness of something, absent any of the necessary nuance, which ultimately falls in on itself while its leaders masturbate on the sidewalk.
I’ll take a hard pass on that shit.
But when you talk about destruction / Don’t you know that you can count me out… IN