Song of the Day: Madness by Muse

So how did you meet? by Kyendo

“Madness” is a song by English alternative rock band Muse. It is the second track on the band’s sixth studio album, The 2nd Lawand is the second and lead single to be released from the album. It has spent 19 weeks on the summit of Billboard’s Alternative chart, making it the longest running #1 on the chart, and beating out the previous record by Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender”.

Lyrics:

MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad

I
I can’t get these memories out of my mind
And some kind of madness has started to evolve

MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad

I
I tried so hard to let you go
But some kind of madness is swallowing me whole, yeah

MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad

I have finally seen the light
And I have finally realized what you mean
And now I need to know is this real love
Or is it just madness keeping us afloat?

MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad

And when I look back at all the crazy fights we had
Like some kind of madness was taking control, yeah

MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad

And now I have finally seen the light
And I have finally realised what you need

MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad

But now I have finally seen the end
(finally seen the end)
And I’m not expecting you to care, no
(expecting you to care)
That I have finally seen the light
(finally seen the light)
And I have finally realised
(realised)
I need your love
I need your love

Come to me, just in a dream
Come on and rescue me
Yes I know I can be wrong
Maybe you’re too headstrong
Our love is…

MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Mad Mad Mad
MA MA MA MA MA MA MA MA
Madness

……

The song was released on 20 August 2012 after its premiere on BBC Radio 1 and NRJ. The music video premiered on 5 September 2012. The song earned a nomination in the Best Rock Song category at the 2013 Grammy Awards.

The band performed the song on Turner Broadcasting’s promotions for the 2013 March Madness games on TBS and TNT.

“Madness” has been featured in several television programs including CSI: NY Madness was used as the ending song for “criminal mind’s” episode “broken”.

According to NME, “Madness” draws influences from Queen’s “I Want to Break Free”, George Michael’s “Faith” and some instrumental elements of his other hit “I Want Your Sex”.

During a preview on French site Jeuxactu, the song was said to resemble Depeche Mode and described as ‘calm, languid and sweet’.

Matthew Bellamy stated that the song started as a personal reflection after a fight with his girlfriend Kate Hudson, and how, after she had gone to her mother’s house, he began to realise “yeah, she was right, wasn’t she?”

In a separate interview, Bellamy stated the song was the band’s attempt to strip down the sound of the album, and that the song has its roots in 12 bar blues with gospel, soul and R&B influences. He went on to conclude that, “It’s the song I’m probably most proud of on the album for sure.”

The video

This video saw the second collaboration between the band and director Anthony Mandler, who previously directed the music video for “Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)”. It was edited by Jacquelyn London. The director of photography was David Devlin. Devlin’s work on “Madness” was nominated for a 2012 Best Cinematography Award at Plus Camerimage. The video was filmed on the Red Line platform at Los Angeles Union Station. The two main characters are played by models Erin Wasson and Max Silberman.

The video begins with Wasson and Silberman sitting behind each other smoking cigarettes while authorities and dogs swarming outside their train attempt to stop a riot in full swing. Throughout the video, the camera flashes to the band playing outdoors at night, among many strobelights and psychedelic effects. Though the chronological order is unclear, Wasson and Silberman are then seen walking through and then wandering among the subway station, at first alone and then amid a violent riot (though it seems they are untouched by the violence occurring around them). The physicality of the models (Wasson occasionally standing above or walking away from Silberman; other times following him and reaching for him) could suggest a parallel to the subject matter of the song: the emotional phases of conflict in a relationship. Eventually, as the song builds to a climax with the lines I have finally realized (realized) / I need your love / I need your love, Wasson grabs Silberman forcefully by his collar and shakes him, screaming soundlessly. This again parallels the simultaneous emotional release and musical catharsis in the song, as well as the long-awaited progression and revelation in the lyrics as Bellamy at last sings of what he has realized. The characters then kiss and end up seated on the train, seemingly back to their original positions. This could also signify that this emotional exchange is repetitive.

Release and reception

The song was released after its premiere on BBC Radio 1 at 19:30 GMT on 20 August 2012. An accompanying lyric video from the band was uploaded shortly after.

NME described the song as “taking the defining noise of ‘bass music’ and using it to create slinky, soft rock sex music.”  The track review goes on to call it a brilliant single and jokingly states that Muse have tamed the shark (following their declaration that Muse had jumped the shark with “Survival”). Diffuser.fm noted that the single “doesn’t sound like the Muse that established itself as one of the worlds biggest rock bands” but that “the unusual blend of sounds works far better than it probably should”; giving the track 8/10. Rolling Stone stated that the single sees Muse “swap bombastic bass brutality with wubby subtleties as Matthew Bellamy croons over a surprisingly gentle pop track.” Radio Times described it as “like George Michael’s Faith underwater”. In a negative review of the song, Robert Myers of The Village Voice wrote that “the band’s U2 imitation has finally caught up to Achtung Baby and Zooropa”. He further added that Muse “gets the surface details right but lacks the emotional and intellectual foundation to get at their inspiration’s essence.”

Rolling Stone Magazine named the song the 37th best song of 2012.

Chris Martin of Coldplay described the single as “Muse’s best song yet”.

The song re-entered and peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its 27th week. It topped the Alternative Songs chart for 19 weeks, making it the song with the most weeks at number one ever on that chart.

Muse

Origin Teignmouth, Devon, England
Genres Alternative rock, new prog,symphonic rock, space rock,progressive metal
Years active 1994–present
Labels Warner Bros., Helium 3, Taste,Mushroom, Dangerous
Website http://www.muse.mu
Members Matthew Bellamy
Christopher Wolstenholme
Dominic Howard

image by Kyendo

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