The titular track of the first album, and often regarded as a fairly dark song. A rarely-played live treat for old Muse fans. Building up momentum at a rapid pace from opening drum beats to closing guitar feedback.
At one point it was the band’s favourite song and apparently one of the reasons that the album was named Showbiz was to have people focus on the song of the same title. Fans around mid-1999 asked the band to release Showbiz as the third single, but the band claimed it was never going to happen. Showbiz is the only non-single from Showbiz to make an appearance during the Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations tours. Today and even upon release, Showbiz had been regarded as one of the band’s greatest songs by the fans and reviewers alike.
Composed in the key of F♯ minor, Showbiz is an alternative/progressive rock song. The song begins with a simple drum beat, and then builds momentum over the course of the song, before climaxing with a very high vocal note from Bellamy. The simple drum beat continues while the song fades out.
Bellamy’s vocal range in the song spans from C♯3 to G♯5, marking both his highest note to date (shared with Survival and Micro Cuts), and one of the widest vocal ranges seen in a Muse song. Occasionally he has hit A5 during live performances, an example being at the Two Days a Week Festival in Wiesen, Austria. Interestingly, the high note occurs over an F♯m chord, so A5 is perhaps more appropriate.
The later live versions had extra guitar work before the solo, as on Hullabaloo and Hullabaloo DVD.
Bellamy was quoted as saying, “The song Showbiz is about how we all have an inside personality that we sort of hide from the outside.” The lyrics are possibly a reference to the difficulty of hiding your inner persona, or perhaps they are about the impact performing has on your life.
Showbiz appeared very rarely throughout the Absolution tour and made occasional appearances during the Black Holes and Revelations tour in 2006. The song was dropped from the setlists after November 2006, and for 11 years it wasn’t played again until 2017 when it was voted and played at a ‘By Request’ show; albeit it was played half-step down.
The song was used in the behind-the-scenes footage on the H.A.A.R.P. DVD.
Showbiz was written sometime in late 1996 or early 1997, which gave the band some time to begin performing it live. It is assumed that Showbiz was first played live sometime in late 1997. Out of the two known 1998 setlists, it appears in the one that is complete. For 1999 Showbiz was performed at nearly every known concert. By midway-through 1999, it was performed at nearly every gig, with the exception of three gigs in August 2000 and some promotional dates, until the beginning of 2002.
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