When Muse signed on to perform at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, they did it with one caveat: since the show was taking place just steps from Broadway, they wanted to do a show tune. For real.
So, of course, we obliged (after all, they are one of the hugest rock acts in the world). And while they'll perform "Uprising" — the first single from their upcoming The Resistance — during the VMAs telecast, we also let them loose on a classic from the Great White Way: "America," the flamboyant standard from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's "West Side Story."
"Yeah, 'West Side Story' is really cool. ... The song we chose to play, 'America,' is a very catchy tune," Muse frontman Matt Bellamy told MTV News. "I remember a version by a prog group called the Nice [an early front-runner of Emerson, Lake and Palmer] in the '70s, which was a pretty cool three-piece rock version, so I thought that would be a good version for us to play, because we're a three-piece too."
So Bellamy and company got to work on their version of "America," recording the tune — and filming a VMA promotional spot — in their Dover, England, rehearsal space (which probably explains why bassist Chris Wolstenholme can be seen traipsing around in a Captain America outfit in the video that accompanies this story).
And, as is to be expected, Muse's take on the tune is wonderful, weird and wild — which is pretty amazing, considering they had almost zero knowledge of the song before deciding to cover it.
"I've never actually seen ['West Side Story'] myself, but Dom's seen it, and he's a big fan of it," Bellamy said.
"I didn't see it when I was a kid, I saw it a couple f years ago, and I loved the way it looked. ... It's all these really strong colors, the songs are really great," Howard added. "There's this scene I really liked with these guys, they're having a fight in a car park, and it's a bit like that Michael Jackson video 'Bad,' and they start singing this song to cool down, take it easy. It was pretty cool."
I wanna live in Americaaaa!