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Muse's Muses: 9 of the British Band's Funky, Heavy, Wacky Influences

With the release of 'Drones,' we're reflecting on some of the trio's inspirations—new, old, unintentional and deliberate

1 / 9

Van Halen

How so? Every shredder who's ever tapped her or his guitar frets like a possessed sorceress or a madman hacking the mainframe has been in conversation with Sir Edward Van Halen. (1978's "Eruption," case closed.) And 37-year-old Muse frontman Matt Bellamy loves him some tappin' (among other bits of flashy guitar moves), especially during live renditions.

Van Halenesque moment:

Stream Muse's new album, Dronesright here, right now—and see if you can figure out if these 20 song titles belong to Muse or two of their biggest influences, Queen and Radiohead.

2 / 9

'1984,' George Orwell's 1949 novel

Signet Classic

How so? 2009's "United States of Eurasia," anyone? The general unrelenting paranoia spread especially across the last three records in particular? Bellamy definitely digs Orwell's high school English teacher–approved classic. The Resistance's title track, which plays just ahead of "Eurasia," also name-checks 1984's Thought Police. Bellamy had the following to say about that one, clearing up any leftover ambiguity:

"It is very much based on the book 1984 by George Orwell particularly the romance between Winston and Julia and the description of the act of sex and love as something political, the only place offering freedom from Big Brother. The song is also about any love which crosses boundaries such as religion or strong political beliefs and the subsequent recognition of the unimportance and divisiveness of such beliefs."

Orwellian moment:

3 / 9

Stevie Wonder

How so? Who knows how much the living legend has sneakily influenced Muse along the way—but it wasn't an accident when 2012's "Panic Station" resembled Stevie Dub from front to back. The post-chorus feels ripped straight from "Superstition."

Wonderish moment:

4 / 9


How so? "Knights of Cydonia," the six-minute finisher on 2006's Black Holes and Revelations, was probably the big coming-out party. The track's theatricality and stadium-readyepicness didn't allay heavy, unabridged airplay as a single, and the exposure lead to plenty of "Wow, is this some kind of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' update?" vibes all summer and beyond.

Going deeper, the band's 2001 sophomore album, Origin of Symmetry, featured its own single, "New Born," that drew comparisons to Freddie Mercury & Co. The gem is one of many Muse tracks featuring Bellamy playing a bit of (hella competent) piano and featuring a grandiose style and ambitious structure.

Queenish moment: 

5 / 9

Kate Hudson

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: (Exclusive Coverage) Kate Hudson and Matt Bellamy attend the Breast Cancer Foundation's Hot Pink Par
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

How so? 

"In your light, I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art." 

So said Rumi, the 13th century poet and scholar, clearly referencing the creative/romantic relationship between Kate Hudson and Matt Bellamy, partners from 2010 to 2014 and parents of a son named Bingham. Hudson's played...er, muse...for some of the band's latter-day love songs. Consider the lyrics of "Follow Me," from The 2nd Law, the group's only LP to drop during the Hudson/Bellamy era:

You can follow me
You can follow me
I will always keep you safe
Follow me
You can trust in me
I will always protect you, my love
Feel my love
Feel my love

Bellamy also said the 2nd Law smash "Madness" was written after a fight with Hudson.

On the Drones press cycle, Bellamy told Q magazine that the single "Dead Inside" was about "a relationship ending and a person becoming dead inside themselves." He also noted that the record is "quite personal," came from "my paranoias, weird feelings and life experiences," and contains very little love-inspired material

Hudsonian moment:

6 / 9


How so? Muse couldn't sail around the dubstep wave in 2012. They talked up how much they were inspired by the digitized heaviness, name-checked Skrillex, then made an album-closing two-part suite stocked with EDM madness. 

Skrillexesque moment:

7 / 9

Marilyn Manson

How so? We didn't really detect this until Drones and its lead single, "Psycho"—and now we can't unhear the Manson in Muse. It's not just that the "Psycho" guitars recall "The Beautiful People" and more of Manson's '90s goth-stompers; Bellamy's chorus is a nu-metal-friendly chant of "Psycho, psycho!" And he sings "your ass belongs to me" in the verse, which could be/probably still will be a Manson album title.

Mansonian moment: 

8 / 9

Outer Space

How so? The album art on Muse's 1999 debut, Showbiz, is a woman on a sun/moon/planet with a spacescape backdrop. The title of Muse's 2006-crushing single, "Knights of Cydonia," references a mysterious area of Mars, one that contains a facelike landmass. Muse's first live album/DVD was, out of nowhere, titled HAARP. It's got nothing to do with concerts or Wembley Stadium, but stands for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, "a controversial Alaska-based research facility that studies an energetic and active region of the upper atmosphere." And it's an Alaska-sized conspiracy theory magnet—which is Bellamy's jam, 1,000 percent.

Outer spacey moment:

9 / 9


How so? Ask Matt Bellamy if he was trying to do a Thom Yorke croon back when he was starting a band and he'll probably say no. But before Muse became one of the biggest rock bands in the world, Radiohead was playing on that kind of stage. "Creep" came before "Apocalypse Please," and people ended up mistaking Muse tracks for Radiohead cuts, or Thom Yorke solo oddities, ever after.

Asked about the Radiohead and Queen comparisons in an early-career interview, Bellamy simply answered, "I wouldn't try to compete with those bands." Pressed if they were "a Radiohead tribute band," the trio just laughed and said "cheers."

Radioheady moment:

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