Hysteria is the eight song on the album called “Absolution” of the British band Muse. Being also released as a single, it peaked number 17 in the UK single charts and it also reached number 9 in the US on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. It’s complicated bass line as well as the lyrics and video makes the song remarkable in it’s core. No wonder it’s bass line was voted the sixth best bass line of all time on MusicRadar. It is quite easy to be remarked at the beginning of the song, after the last chorus and also at the end of the song, where honestly I like it the most.
Although the video of the song is pretty violent (I think one of the most violent videos of Muse), it not only reflects very well the lyrics, but it also transmits deep emotions that few videos are able to transmit.
Hysteria is like a dark anthem of sorrow that sticks to your soul and never goes away. The song is complex through it’s simplicity, if this can make any sense. As there are all the songs of Muse, it reflects so many things in so little words. The strophes really have more or less the same words, but the little changes at the end make all the difference.
The first strophe yells: “It’s bugging me / Grating me / And twisting me around“, but the fourth one says: “Yeah it’s holding me / Morphing me / And forcing me to strive“.
We can see how in the first strophe the person in the song is feeling like something bothers him, making him to give up hope, but in the fourth one he tells us how he is morphined in order to keep fighting, in order to not give up. But on the other hand, in the fifth strophe the person sais that he is morphined in order to cave in, to give up, to loose the energy to fight back: “To be endlessly / Caving in / And dreaming I’m alive“. So the person tries to be imune to his feelings, but is strivings are having the opposite result, of making him give up.
The chorus tells us that the person is longing for someone, or better said, that he wants “the heart and the soul” of someone, and if he does not get what he wants he will not break down, but break out. It is like a metaphore of that spoiled child who wants everything here and now, but I think the man is far from that. Although the chorus sends indirectly to the longing of a person, it might actually not be. It might be the fact that the character asks for something that belongs to him and was refused to him, now losing his temper when he is not receiving what he needs.
The video of the song starts with a man who wakes up in a hotel when the room cleaning woman bumps in, and finds the room in a mess. Subsequently he finds a camera on which is recorded his previous day, and finds out that he had met with a prostitute he had an obsession for, but the meeting did not have a happy ending after taking her in the hotel room. He bursts into rage and starts destroying the entire room in anger.
The video itself is pretty ambiguous, just as the lyrics are. At least in my oppinion. The ambiguity comes first from the alternation between past and present. There are sequences that are confounded. There are parts when the room is clean and parts when it is a mess. When he wakes up the room is a mess, but when looking at the film it is pretty ordered (is it just me?). Second of all, it is ambiguous in the ending. The girl comes to him in bed behind the camera, her comming overlapping the comming in the camera. Was it reality or was it just her image on the camera that created this impression?
Nevertheless, despite the ambiguity in the lyrics and video, I cannot but admit the energy that the song releases. It is one of my favorite songs of Muse that kept it’s position in my ranking throughout time. Though there are times that I cannot hear it, especially when I am relaxed and in peace. But it always helps me when I want to stay awake, to calm down or to concentrate. Although I could be biased as Muse is my favorite band, I can say that this song is, as all the other songs of Muse, well written, well interpreted and well acted. They make such a good job in creating the story and transmitting it! Although some say they would have expected more from Muse, I am completly happy with the way the song turned out. Hopefully we will see many of their songs as good as this one.
Complete song lyrics here