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 forerunner 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 Don’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 of 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.”
The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards will take place this Sunday, September 13, at 9 p.m. ET. Stay tuned all week long for news on additional performers and celebrity presenters.