Thom Yorke lashes out at Muse over his comparisons to Radiohead

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The parallel journeys of Muse and Radiohead have been marked by a recurrent theme: the constant comparisons drawn by music critics.

These connections unveil a complex interplay between homage and individuality. Muse’s debut album, ‘Showbiz’ (1999), often evokes echoes of Radiohead’s post-‘OK Computer’ (1997) era.

Yet, the point where Matt Bellamy and Thom Yorke’s paths intersect diverges in interpretation: what might be intended as a nod from Yorke is seen as an affront, as he dislikes linking his work with Bellamy’s.

In a 2019 interview with The Sunday Times, Thom Yorke criticized music algorithms that suggest “similar” content based on listening history. When the algorithm implied Muse, Yorke curtly rejected the idea. This reflects his determination to maintain a separation between their artistic realms.

However, the shared elements between Muse and Radiohead are few. Firstly, a mutual admiration for Jeff Buckley serves as a driving force for both.

Secondly, the influence of producer John Leckie is evident on Radiohead’s ‘The Bends’ (1995) and Muse’s ‘Origin of Symmetry’ (2001).

Muse’s perspective on the Radiohead comparisons is more accommodating, though not without complexities. They express a tempered openness to these parallels, navigating occasional challenges. ‘The Bends,’ emblematic of the ’90s, holds a special place in Muse’s formation. Drummer Dominic Howard recalled, “When we were 16, Radiohead was one of our main influences. The Bends was my favorite album.”

Yet, a murky episode involving Howard and Thom Yorke casts a shadow. Bellamy’s response, tinged with sarcasm, glosses over their supposed “splendid terms.” Beneath the surface lies the memory of a tense encounter where Yorke’s behavior reportedly wounded Howard’s respect and camaraderie.

Bellamy’s tone shifts when recounting this tale. He blends admiration for Radiohead’s musical prowess with the bitterness of an unpleasant encounter. “Splendid terms my arse,” Bellamy quips, unveiling the facade. “I respect them musically, but the last time I met him, we almost started a fight; he treated me badly, putting me down.”

Moreover, Thom Yorke’s words linger: “I draw my line at Muse because they openly criticize us and openly rip us off. And it’s like, ‘How dare they’… It’s not cool, it’s incredibly bad karma.” In this understated sentiment lies a testament to the thin line between creative influence and contentious imitation.

In this tale of connections and dissonances, Muse and Radiohead remain elusive harmonies, forever intertwined by threads of inspiration, rivalry, and enigmatic camaraderie.

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