Music Video Relapse: "Survival" by Muse (2012)

Posted by Adam Fairholm on February 10, 2014 in Music Video Relapse

Staff Post


I'm a huge Olympics fan. It's not just the athletic events, although those are great - it's the whole spectacle of a city taking on an insane logistical challenge that includes mastering almost everything you can think of from performing arts to architecture to PR.

As far as Olympics go, at the top of my list is the 2012 summer games in London. Those were the first games that really seemed to feel modern - from the architecture, to the logo - even if people weren't really ready to go along with it. Case in point is the song they chose as the official Olympics anthem. After years of forgettable, sentimental ballads, London opted to go with an epic rock song called "Survival" by Muse.

I'm not really sure what happened in the UK, but in the US, NBC decided it wasn't having any of it. In all the Olympic coverage I watched, the song was never used (or even mentioned), and Muse's live performance was cut out of the American broadcast of the closing ceremonies in order to air an episode of their new show Animal Practice, which is about a veterinary hospital that employs a monkey and dresses that monkey in a lab coat. It was cancelled after 6 episodes.

So today, let's give Muse's awesome Olympics ballad its rightful time in the spotlight by checking out the music video that was released for it.

We have not noted the director of this video because we can't find any director. We've even contacted several press offices attempting to source it, with no luck. The best we can gather is that it was put together by one of the companies handling media for the London games. Then, after 8 million views, the video was pulled from YouTube.

The video itself is pretty much a straight montage, and starts with the prelude to "Survival," counting back the Olympic years all the way to the first one in 1896. After that, we start seeing all sorts of clips from summer games events. Since this was released before the 2012 games, it does not feature London events, and instead pulls heavily from 2008 in Beijing and 2004 in Athens. There is also some short clips of some sort of motion capture.

Although there are some cheesy moments in here, as far as montages go, this is pretty excellent. There are a few recognizable athletes in here for casual Olympics fans (Nastia Liukin makes an appearance early on, and Michael Phelps does in several places), but mostly we get the athletes who are in the trenches. There were more than 10,000 athletes at the summer games, so there are plenty to go around.

That being said, one of my issues with this video is the equestrian shots. There are some amazing athletic images in this video - one of my favorites is the woman who falls to the ground on the track in the rain - but it feels like the equestrian shots were put in there just to make sure every event got a fair turn. No offense to horses and equestrian events in general, but next to the other shots in this video, watching someone ride a horse around looks dumb.

The other is the goofy, prolonged shot of Michael Phelps raging during one especially poignant portion of the song. It's tough not to laugh at that. Just try.


But look closely and you'll see a lot of things missing - no torch relay shots, no brochure-like videos of the London skyline. There is really nothing sentimental or aspirational here, and that itself is a bold move by the London organizers.

Is there a song for Sochi? Who knows - if there is I haven't heard about it. Considering Russia is putting t.A.T.u. up as their big pop music achievement, I don't really feel like seeking it out, either.

Adam Fairholm is the co-founder and lead developer of IMVDb. You can find him on twitter at @adamfairholm.

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