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Exploring the bad blood between Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Muse

Nobody can really pinpoint when it all started; all we know is that Radiohead and Muse are not on good terms with each other, and they have made it abundantly clear. While a little friendly rivalry between two contemporaries in the music industry can often be good for both parties, pushing them to participate in a healthy competition, we’re not entirely sure if the relationship Muse and Radiohead can ever be deemed all that friendly. What started out as jovial jibes turned into a passionate dislike, and the two bands keep making headlines because of it.

Outsiders who have been an audience to both the bands’ music have often come up with comparisons between Radiohead and Muse. While some are of the opinion that a lot of Muse’s earlier albums sound similar to Radiohead on OK Computer, some others find similarities between Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy’s vocals. Fans of the individual bands, however, are all too tired of the comparisons between the two, if not extremely irritated and find it irrational to see the two in the same light just because they are both British rock bands.

The only similarities between the two bands, although far-fetched, can be that both were hugely inspired by American singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley. Apart from that, both Radiohead as well Muse had John Leckie as the music producer for their albums – The Bends for Radiohead in 1995 and Muse’s Origin of Symmetry in 2001. Comparison on the grounds of these similarities is what Muse considered to be “lazy journalism”.

A lot of Muse’s interviews saw a shift from them admitting (if we can even call it that) that they were inspired by Radiohead’s music to dismissing the earlier comments. Matt Bellamy said in an interview, “There are elements where we’ve been influenced by a lot of the same things, but not influenced by them [referring to Radiohead]; everything will be fine.” Later on, Bellamy called Radiohead’s The Bends one of the two most important albums of the ’90s. Dominic Howard, the drummer for Muse, on the other hand, said: “When we were 16, Radiohead was one of our major influences. The Bends was my favourite album when I was younger.” 

Howard’s opinion on Radiohead, however, changed drastically in the later years. Matt Bellamy, in an interview, sarcastically pointed how Howard “is on splendid terms with Thom Yorke” which, of course, made Howard go off on a tangent on just how “splendid terms” they were on. As he said, “Splendid terms my arse. I respect them musically, but the last time I met him, we almost started a fight; he treated me badly, looking down on me.”

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, too, had a lot to say about Muse. In an interview, when asked about what he thought of the music recommendation by the music streaming sites, Yorke said that he doesn’t rely on music algorithms at all. “If you like this, you’ll like this. And then it gives me… MUSE.” Yorke, as well as the rest of Radiohead’s members, have, over the years, expressed aversion towards Muse. Yorke was allegedly quoted saying in an interview in 2001: “I draw the line at Muse because they openly slag us off as well as openly rip us off. And that’s like, ‘How fucking dare you?’… That’s just not cool, that’s incredibly bad karma.”

From the sounds of it, it seems like there is quite a lot of bad blood between the two bands, and it is probably here to stay. However, there is no doubt that Radiohead and Muse are among some of the most influential rock bands of all time.