Jump to content

Poll-topping Muse guitar riff would drive you to therapy revolver on music


Recommended Posts

Just seen this in the paper today.




EVERYONE has a musical blind spot. And if you don’t have one, you should.


Yours should always be the dissenting voice that speaks up when a consensus starts to form. And it can’t be a contrary knee-jerk reaction just for the sake of it – there should be substance to your counter-argument. My current blind spot (though there have been many down the years) is the band Muse.


Sure, you can appreciate their musicianship (whatever way you slice it Matt Bellamy is a preternaturally talented guitarist), respect their achievements and acknowledge that they are one of the best bands in the world today. But there’s just no engagement there.


As blind spots go it’s pretty benign. There are people out there (of extensive musical knowledge) who just can’t get their heads around a Springsteen, Dylan or a Clash. And it’s nothing to with genre – you can be a paid-up fan of a certain musical style yet still be left cold by one it’s most acclaimed practitioners.


All of which is a long way of saying that Muse’s Plug In Baby doesn’t really deserve to be voted the best guitar riff of the century. You’d certainly have to put in the top 10 of best guitar riffs so far this decade, but not at the very top spot.


But that’s how the readers of Total Guitar magazine had it when they voted for their favourite riffs. People were asked to keep their choices to this decade to prevent the poll descending into a predictable Jimi Hendrix/Led Zeppelin affair. Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile regularly tops the best riff of all time polls.


Total Guitar editor Stephen Lawson said: “I think Muse won because Matt Bellamy is a guitar hero for the 21st century. He’s genuinely innovative, a real creative type who comes up with unique parts. I’m sure it helps that his riffs are catchy too”.


That’s all very well but does the Plug In Baby riff really connect the way that a great riff should? Muse did very well with two entries in the top 10 (their Knights of Cydonia made it to No 5) but there are some glaring omissions.


There’s no room for either Red Hot Chili Peppers or The Darkness in the top 10 and you’d really have to put the latter’s still magnificent I Believe in a Thing Called Love in the top three. And the same goes for U2’s Vertigo which is one of The Edge’s finest moments.


Velvet Revolver’s Slither is at No 2 in the poll, even though, out of all their work, it is perhaps their most paint-by-numbers track. But you’ll find no arguments here with the mighty Avenged Sevenfold (Afterlife ) at No 3, Queens of the Stone Age (No One Knows) at No 6 or The White Stripes ( Seven Nation Army ) at No 7.


Quite what the readers of Total Guitar had in mind when they placed The Killers and Mr Brightside at No 9 is anyone’s guess as there’s no discernible riff (as it’s commonly understood) in the song. The term “riff” – short for either “rhythmic figure” or “refrain” – is usually defined as “a short, repeated, memorable musical phrase, often pitched low on the guitar, which focuses much of the energy and excitement of a rock song”. Which rules out Mr Brightside, you’ll find.


Technically known as an “ostinato” – which translates as “obstinate” – the idea of the riff is that it “obstinately” carries the melody line. If you want the perfect sonic description of how a riff should work within a song just listen to Day Tripper by The Beatles. It’s 11 notes long and, as such, really shouldn’t work, but it’s how they frame the song around that 11-note riff that is all-important.


You’ll find a similar level of inspiration at work in what is the best Irish rock riff of all time – Therapy?’s Screamager , from their 1994 album Troublegum ( which they will play in full at upcoming gigs in Cork, Dublin and Belfast). Although not eligible for the Total Guitar poll (it was released in 1994), it wipes the floor with their top 10. And I’d fancy it in a riff-off with Voodoo Chile any

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understanding not really 'getting' Muse. I've never gotten other big bands like Pink Floyd.


But I mean, there's no substance for his argument here. He just states his opinion and then dwindles on about other bad song choices. And then he throws in his shitty music choices. :facepalm:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"That’s all very well but does the Plug In Baby riff really connect the way that a great riff should?"


Well, a whole bunch of people voted for it to a top spot, sure it's evidence enough that it connects?


I guess what the writer really means is, how can it connect when it doesn't connect with meeee :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He does make a good point, though, when he mentions Mr Brightside being no 9. As fantastic as that song is, the riff is hardly a "short, repeated, memorable musical phrase, often pitched low on the guitar, which focuses much of the energy and excitement of a rock song”


Plus, the KoC/NB riffs are far better than PiB's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometime I feel alone, wanting to sleep, I just go over my cassette and turn some song, and most of time if feeling depressed. Just go over my dvd song collection, and play on it and otherwise open my desktop searching for anew song.


That's make life bring to normal, so thanks to the DJ. And thanks also to paretologic.com for keeping my files away from viruses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...