The final track on Prog-rocking Muse's album Black Holes and Revelations is the stand-out song. Knights of Cydonia delivers a self-styled theme tune to a futuristic spaghetti western. It opens to the sounds of galloping horses and wailing that would be familiar to fans of Sergio Leone's Man with no Name westerns. Gradually the tune turns into a Telstar type guitar beat (the lead singer's dad was The Tornadoes' guitarist) and then finally into a Queen style stadium anthem, but it remains at heart the theme tune to a futuristic western.
It's therefore pleasing that when the band came to do the inevitable promo video they made it a western. In fact I would rank it as being the greatest western music promo video ever made, although that's only because I can't think of another. What is most pleasing is that this 6 minute video actually has a plot and tells a familiar western tale.
The story goes like this: The man with no name practises his kung-fu moves before he straps on his gun and goes outside in a great 'going through the door to reveal the big country' shot. He rides off to the town of Cydonia (population 143), passing a collapsed Statue of Liberty on the way. Once there he beats up some rough-types in the road, then goes into the saloon and beats on some more rough types.
He gets into a card game with a saloon-girl. Her four queens beats his four jacks. They have a romantic fling, but the evil sheriff takes exception to them. The sheriff kidnaps the girl and beats up the hero in humiliating fashion using only two fingers then puts him in the stocks before running him out of town.
There in the wilderness the hero is about to crawl under a rock and die, but with the help of some kung-fu champions, several robots and a girl in a silver bikini riding a unicorn he rediscovers his courage. He rides back into town just as the evil sheriff is about to hang the saloon-girl. In the nick of time he saves her from the noose, shoots up anybody who gets in the way, and then in a showdown kills the evil sheriff. Cue end credits.
When you get down to it, that's a better plot than some westerns films I've seen, and better than a few I've written. Purists might take exception to the robots and the silver bikini as not being strictly authentic, but the video does well to cram a proper western story into six minutes.
With youtube taking down a lot of music videos these days I won’t link to something that will probably disappear within hours, but instead here is something even better. Muse in concert playing not only Knights of Cydonia but also doing an intro of the The Man with Harmonica theme from Once Upon a Time in the West. Pure bliss.