Muse’s “Won’t Stand Down”: A Rekindled Flame


Credit: Muse/Warner Music

Cover for Won’t Stand Down

On January 13, 2022, English alternative rock band, Muse, released their first song in three-and-a-half-years entitled “Won’t Stand Down” off their upcoming album, which remains nameless at the time of this article. The song’s duration is three minutes and thirty seconds, and at this time, is getting mixed reviews.

Muse is an alternative rock band that originated from Teingmouth, England, in 1997. They’ve won lots of awards, and sold millions of albums in their peak (which was around the mid 2000’s). Known for their heavy riffs and anthemic choruses, they’ve wrote such hits like “Starlight”, “Uprising”, “Hysteria”, “Knights of Cydonia”, and “Supermassive Black Hole” (which appeared in the 2009 movie: Twilight). The lineup has stayed consistent over the years; Matt Bellamy being the primary songwriter, on vocals/guitar/piano, Chris Wolstenholme on bass and backup vocals, and Dominic Howard on percussion. They’ve released eight studio albums from 1999-2018, and most fans would say their early work is brilliant, and timeless.

But sadly, most fans can’t say the same about their more recent albums. Fans of the band would agree that after their peak in the 2000s, the band hasn’t had the same impact on the fans, and on the mainstream media. They’ve been a “Hit-or-Miss” band for the last ten years. Though they’ve written a few hits in that time span (“Madness”, “Psycho”, “Pressure”), most of their work has fallen on deaf ears.

So when Muse released their new single “Won’t Stand Down”, fans were somewhat nervous. Having waited three-and-a-half years, there was a lot of uneasy anticipation for this new album. But most reviews about the song have been positive. Most fans have also said that this is their “heaviest” song, due to the riff before the chorus. While it’s not on the level of some of their older hits, this song is great. It combines themes of metal with a very pop-like melody.

Though Muse was never one to define their songs for their fans, it’s not too hard to figure out what this song’s about. From the look at the lyrics, the song seems to be about a toxic relationship. This isn’t the first time Bellamy has talked about his problems with romance, and I doubt it’ll be his last. Lines like:

I’ve opened my eyes, and counted the lies
And now it is clearer to me
You are just a user and an abuser
Living vicariously
Or with the chorus:
Won’t stand down, I’m growing stronger
Won’t stand down, I’m owned no longer
Won’t stand down, You’ve used me for too long
Now die alone

So it’s clear that this song is very “in-your-face” about it’s meaning.

Compared to older hits by the band, this song would be considered more “pop-like”. It’s got a very produced sound throughout the whole thing, being very slick and synthesized. Bellamy even uses the term “gaslighting” in an earlier verse. So he’s very obviously trying to stay with the times. Though know one would be confused that this is a song by Muse. The tone’s are consistent, the structure is familiar, and Bellamy’s voice has stayed just as powerful and his melodies just as contagious as always. For the past few years of the band, they’ve been experimenting with tones (more than usual) and trying to stray away from their older sound. Their older sound being more rock-orientated.

If you thought the song was intense by itself, the accompanying music video gives a whole other vibe. The music video depicts Bellamy in a fragile and older state, with piercing black eyes, controlling an army of faceless soldiers. Dark? Grim? No, just Muse. Muse has always been a dystopian type of band. Each album contains lyrics, themes, and warnings about the rise of technology, corporations, and government. Their album The Resistance, released in 2009, is an homage to George Orwell’s book 1984, in which it talks about the rise and control of a totalitarian government. Though they’ve never strayed away from writing sappy love songs (Starlight, Unintended, Falling Away With You), Muse has always had a hint of cynicism in their work. And in this new song, they definitely show that side.

So, with millions of plays on Youtube, Spotify, and Apple Music, and generally positive reviews about the song, the question is: Is Muse back? I’m not sure. Perhaps the questions that should be asked is “Did they ever really leave?” As an avid Muse fan, I (along many others) have been disappointed in the past before, in most recent years. They haven’t had an album defining hit in over a decade. But with this new song, it seems Muse has rekindled a dying flame that has been put out many years ago. And hopefully, they deliver what the fans want. Distorted riffs, powerful chorus, grim lyrics, and hopeful melodies. Essentially, everybody wants to see Muse back on the charts, rightfully, where they belong.