Thursday, September 24, 2009

We are not a-muse-d

About a million (three) people have sent me this clip of Muse playing their Uprising single on Italian TV. It is hilarious, they all tell me, because the band rebelled when they were forced to lipsync - lead singer Matt faked playing the drums in a comedically exagerrated manner, while the actual drummer pretended to sing the song!

But I wonder if it's really that simple. There must have been a producer in Italy who liked Muse enough to book them for the show. They would have had to propose the idea to their boss, put it forward at a programme planning meeting, and then take on the responsibility of booking transport, dressing rooms and hospitality for the band and their crew.

At this stage, the producer would have raised the issue of lip syncing with the band's PR team. "We're not a rich show," the conversation would have run. "We can't afford to pay thousands of euros to half-a-dozen sound mixers and engineers - so we can't guarantee the mix will be as crisp and detailed as the band would like. Would they mind miming to a backing track instead?" The band's representatives clearly accepted this argument.

But Muse turn up on the day of the show and suddenly decide they're not happy. "We're a real band," they complain. "We don't do miming. This is so unfair". They spit out their dummies, call their mum to whine about the injustice and refuse to get off the tour bus until someone sorts it out. The frantic producer runs between the production office and the megastars' coach trying to reach a compromise. Eventually, the band grumpily agree to do the show.

Broadcast time rolls around. The producer has butterflies in their stomach, hoping Muse don't pull out at the last minute. What if the backing track skips? Will the presenter stick to the carefully-researched questions?

As the segment approaches, the singer is sitting in the drummer's chair. That's a bit strange, but it'll be alright, won't it?

No. Muse make a mockery of the show. The drummer takes the interview questions meant for the lead singer - and the presenter doesn't realise he's not who he says he is. The performance is a disaster. Muse fans write in to jeer and laugh. The producer is hauled in front of the TV station's boss to explain why the channel has been made a laughing stock by this English band.

With that (fictionalised but probably represenative) story in mind, doesn't their behaviour seem petulant and pathetic?

Imagine if you worked in a bakery and your boss said you'd have to whisk the cake batter by hand because the food mixer was broken. If you decided to stick it to the man by switching the sugar for salt, would that be an amusing prank or a sackable offence?

It's not a perfect analogy, but it amuses me to think of Matt Bellamy in a chef's hat.

:: Here's the actual video for Uprising, in which Muse take their job seriously

:: Here's the Veronicas covering the song on Radio One proving (a) they can cut it live, and (b) the song is a bit monotonous when you strip away all the whizz-bang production and sound effects.

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