The 2nd Law

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The 2nd Law
Studio album by Muse
Released 28 September 2012 (2012-09-28)
Recorded October 2011 – August 2012
Length 53:49
Muse chronology
The Resistance
The 2nd Law
Live at Rome Olympic Stadium
Vinyl Issue
Singles from The 2nd Law
  1. "Survival"
    Released: 27 June 2012 (2012-06-27)
  2. "Madness"
    Released: 20 August 2012 (2012-08-20)
  3. "Follow Me"
    Released: 7 December 2012 (2012-12-07)
  4. "Supremacy"
    Released: 20 February 2013 (2013-02-20)
  5. "Panic Station"
    Released: 31 May 2013 (2013-05-31)
This article is about the Muse album. For the rule of energy transfers, see Second law of thermodynamics. For other theoretical laws, see Second law.

The 2nd Law is the sixth studio album by English alternative rock band Muse, released on 1 October 2012 in the United Kingdom and elsewhere on 28 September, 2 October and 3 October under Warner Bros. Records and Helium-3. The title of the album refers to the second law of thermodynamics.[3] The album was recorded in a span of ten months in three different studios and was self-produced by the band, with the exception of the song "Follow Me" which was co-produced by Nero. The album received generally favourable reviews from critics upon release[4] and was a number-one album in thirteen different countries. The album was also nominated for Best Rock Album and the album's second track "Madness" was nominated for Best Rock Song at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.[5] "Madness" also topped the Billboard Alternative Songs chart for 19 weeks, beating out the previous record set by "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters. The album's third track "Panic Station" was also nominated for Best Rock Song at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.[6]


Muse entered the studio to begin recording their sixth studio album in September 2011, which bassist Christopher Wolstenholme later confirmed in an interview with BBC Radio 1, stating: "September and October, that's when we're going to get into the studio to start writing the new album."[7] In an interview with Billboard on 18 October 2011, the band's manager Anthony Addis revealed that Muse had begun recording their sixth album in London and that he expected it to be released by October 2012.[8] Bellamy jokingly described the album as a "christian gangsta rap jazz odyssey, with some ambient rebellious dubstep and face-melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedelia" on his Twitter account.[9]

In an interview with Kerrang! on 14 December 2011, Wolstenholme stated that the next Muse album would be "something radically different" from their prior releases. He also said that it felt as if the band were "drawing a line under a certain period" of their career with their sixth album.[10] In another interview Chris mentioned that the band had experimented with music and sounds in particular, which makes this album their most experimental piece ever.[11] It was revealed via Muse's publicist Tom Kirk on his Twitter account that composer David Campbell who had worked with acts such as Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Evanescence, Avril Lavigne, Beck and Adele was helping the band compose the album.[12] In an interview in the April 2012 issue of NME, Bellamy said that the band were set to include elements of electronic music, with influences coming from acts such as French house duo Justice and UK electronic rock group Does It Offend You, Yeah?,[13] as well as the inclusion of brass players.


A 22-second sample from "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable" by Muse. The song was influenced by dubstep producer Skrillex.[14]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Madness", according to NME, features influences which draw from Queen's "I Want to Break Free" and David Bowie's Scary Monsters and Super Creeps album.[15] Frontman Matt Bellamy has stated that dubstep producer Skrillex was an influence when writing one of the final two tracks on the album – "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable".[14] He also stated that the song "Follow Me" was written about his newborn son, Bingham Bellamy. "Panic Station" features musicians who performed on Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and includes funk rock and Michael Jackson influences.[16] Bassist Chris Wolstenholme wrote two songs for the album about his battle with alcoholism – "Save Me" and "Liquid State" – and provided lead vocals on both tracks.[17] The electronic-tinged track "Follow Me" was produced by Nero.

The album marks the first time Muse have received a Parental Advisory label on an album with the inclusion of explicit lyrics in the song "Panic Station".[18]

Matt Bellamy revealed that during the recording of "The 2nd Law" he was reading the novel World War Z, which became a major influence on the album, especially the tracks "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" and "Survival."[19] "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" and "Follow Me", were featured in the film adaptation of the novel.


The name "The 2nd Law" references the second law of thermodynamics,[3] which is quoted in the track "Unsustainable" as follows:

All natural and technological processes proceed in such a way that the availability of the remaining energy decreases. In all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves an isolated system, the entropy of that system increases. Energy continuously flows from being concentrated, to becoming dispersed, spread out, wasted, and useless. New energy cannot be created and high-grade energy is being destroyed. An economy based on endless growth is unsustainable.[20]

The album's cover art, taken from the Human Connectome Project, represents the map of the human brain's pathways, "tracking the circuits in our heads and how we process information with bright, neon colors."[21] The artwork was subsequently utilized by Muse in a social Connectome Project on 21 September 2012. As more fans joined the online project, the album art was built, representing the network of the neurons within the brain. As the album art branched and more fans joined the network, incremental segments of the album track "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" were released.[22][23]

The album was released as a digital download, CD, CD+DVD (with The Making of The 2nd Law and bonus feature),[24] and vinyl. A deluxe edition box set of The 2nd Law included a CD, DVD, double vinyl and three posters.[25]


On 6 June 2012, Muse released a trailer for their next album, The 2nd Law, with a countdown on the band's website suggesting a 17 September release date.[26] The trailer, which included dubstep elements, was met with mixed reactions from fans.[27][28] On 9 August, Muse made the album track "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable" available to fans who pre-ordered the album from their online store, and then uploaded the video for the track onto their YouTube channel on 10 August.

The band conducted a competition to produce a music video for "Animals". The winning video was created by Inês Freitas and Miguel Mendes (Oneness Team) from Portugal. The winning entry was released on 20 March 2013.[29]


"Survival" was released as the album's first single on 27 June 2012. Premiering on BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe show, along with the song's counterpart intro, "Prelude",[30] the song served as the official song of the London 2012 Olympics Games.[31]

"Madness" was released as the second single, revealed by Muse in an interview with NME magazine.[32] Released on 20 August 2012, it was announced that the song "Madness" would make its world premiere on BBC Radio 1 at 19:30 BST, but the track was leaked online beforehand, due to an unintentional early release in South Korea.[33][34]

"Follow Me" was revealed as the third single when several promo CD's allegedly sent to radio stations appeared on eBay.[35] The official lyric video was released on Muse's YouTube channel on 1 November 2012.[36]

"Supremacy" was released as the fourth single of The 2nd Law: it was firstly announced as the next single after "Follow Me" with a release date for 25 February 2013,[37] but after it was released as a live version performed during the 2013 BRIT Awards was released on the iTunes Store on 20 February 2013.[38] This is the second single of Muse to be released as a live version on digital download and as normal version on airplay. The first single was Apocalypse Please, released with the live performance on Glastonbury Festival of 2004 on digital download, and with the album version on airplay.

"Panic Station" was released as a promotional single from The 2nd Law in the days leading up to its release on 24 September 2012. Its first airplay occurred on British alternative music station XFM. The band performed this track, as well as "Madness" on the 6 October 2012 episode of Saturday Night Live. Panic Station was released as the fifth single on 31 May 2013,[39] accompanied by a music video shot during the Japanese dates of The 2nd Law Tour. The music video was released on 22 April 2013 at 10:00 a.m. PDT on the official YouTube channel,[40] and the lyric video was released on 9 May 2013 in two formats: an interactive version,[41] and a normal version released on the official YouTube channel.[42]

Furthermore, "Big Freeze" was released in April 2013, but only for French radios and without a commercial release.[43]


On 7 June 2012, Muse announced a European Arena tour; the first leg of The 2nd Law World Tour. The leg included dates in France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Finland and the United Kingdom as well as other countries. They recently announced North American tour dates.[44]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 70/100[4]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[45]
BBC positive[46]
Digital Spy 4/5 stars[47]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[48]
Entertainment Weekly C+[49]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[50]
NME 8/10[51]
The Observer 3/5 stars[52]
Pitchfork 5.5/10[53]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[1]

Critical reception[edit]

The 2nd Law received favourable reviews from music critics. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 70 based on 30 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[4] The Guardian‍ '​s Alexis Petridis rated the album four out of five stars, complimenting the band's ambition but finding fault with the album's bombastic tendencies which were also present on their previous albums, stating "no one goes to see a blockbuster for its profundity and deep characterisation. They go for the stunts and the special effects, both of which The 2nd Law delivers."[54] BBC music critic Ian Winwood also gave the album a positive review, highlighting "Supremacy", "Liquid State" and "The 2nd Law: Isolated System", saying that Muse "present themselves in any guise they please".[46] The Telegraph‍ '​s Helen Brown rated the album four out of five stars, noting the album's eclectic influences and reserving praise for "Madness" in particular.[55] The Observer‍ '​s reviewer also alluded to Muse's bombastic tendencies, saying "Bellamy is not blind to the contradictions of his band's attempts continually to ramp the ludicrousness up to 11; endless growth is, of course, unsustainable. But for now they remain pretty comfortable with the idea of obscene over-inflation. So should we."[52]

Allmusic rated the album three out of five stars, noting "their excursions into dubstep and dance music on tracks like "Madness" and "Follow Me" feel more like remixes than original songs. Songs like these definitely have the spine of Muse tracks, but the production that's built up around them feels almost alien."[45] Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a grade of C+, claiming that "the band goes overboard with Queen-isms" and expressing disappointment at the lack of electronic music elements compared to the band's expectations that the album would be a departure from previous releases.[49]

The album was a nominee for Best Rock Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards. The song "Madness" was also nominated for Best Rock Song.

The album was listed at #46 on Rolling Stone‍ '​s list of the top 50 albums of 2012, saying "In an era of diminished expectations, Muse make stadium-crushing songs that mix the legacies of Queen, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead while making almost every other current band seem tiny."[56] It also spent 18 weeks atop Billboard's Alternative song chart, tying the record held by the Foo Fighters for most consecutive weeks as #1.[57]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album sold around 475,000 copies worldwide on its release. It debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200 with 101,000 copies sold in its first week, giving Muse the highest charting debut of their career in the US, although it sold fewer copies than the debut of their previous album The Resistance, which debuted at number three with 128,000 copies.[58] It also debuted at number 2 in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Korea and Spain. The album gave Muse their fourth number 1 debut in the UK, while also debuting at number 1 in 13 other countries. It has sold 255,000 copies in the UK in 2012 alone.[59]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Matthew Bellamy, except "Save Me" and "Liquid State" by Chris Wolstenholme. 

No. Title Length
1. "Supremacy"   4:55
2. "Madness"   4:39
3. "Panic Station"   3:03
4. "Prelude"   0:57
5. "Survival"   4:17
6. "Follow Me"   3:51
7. "Animals"   4:23
8. "Explorers"   5:48
9. "Big Freeze"   4:41
10. "Save Me"   5:09
11. "Liquid State"   3:03
12. "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable"   3:47
13. "The 2nd Law: Isolated System"   4:59
Total length:


Additional musicians
  • David Campbellconductor and additional orchestral arrangements
  • Alyssa Park – first violinist
  • Gerardo Hilera, Josefin Vergara, Kevin Connolly, Mario Deleon, Michele Richards, Ruth Bruegger, Sara Parkins, Sara Thornblade, Serena McKinny, Songa Lee, Tamara Hatwan – violins
  • Andrew Duckles – principal viola
  • Alma Fernandez, David Walther, Matthew Funes – violas
  • Steve Richards – principal cello
  • Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, George Kim Scholes, Suzie Katayama – cellos
  • Dave Stone, Oscar Hidalgo – basses
  • Rodrigo D’Erasmo – additional violin on "Prelude" and "Explorers"
  • Daniela Savoldi – additional cello on "Prelude" and "Explorers"
  • Wayne Bergeron – trumpet solo on "Supremacy"
  • Joseph Meyer, Nathan Campbell – French horns
  • Alan Kaplan, Charles Morillas, Craig Gosnell, Nick Lane – trombones
  • Charles Findlay, Steven Madaio – trumpets on "Panic Station"
  • Tom Saviano – tenor saxophone
  • Donald Markese – baritone saxophone
  • Katie Razzall – spoken words on "The 2nd Law – Unsustainable" and "The 2nd Law – Isolated System"
  • Tom Kirk – additional chanting on "Survival"
  • Bingham Bellamy - Additional sound effects on "Follow Me"
  • Aaron Page, Antonio Sol, Baraka Williams, Beth Anderson, Bobbi Page, Christian Ebner, Chyla Anderson, Clydene Jackson, Edie Lehmann Boddicker, Francesca Proponis, Gabriel Mann, Gerald White, Gregory Jasperse, Gregory Whipple, Guy Maeda, Joannna Bushnell, John Kimberling, Karen Harper, Karen Whipple Schnurr, Kathryn Reid, Kimberley Lingo Hinze, Michael Geiger, Oren Waters, Raven Kane, Reid Bruton, Robert Joyce, Scottie Haskell, Susie Stevens Logan, Teri Koide, Walter Harrah – choir
Production personnel
Additional personnel

Charts and certifications[edit]


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Belgium (BEA)[115] Gold 15,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[116] Platinum 80,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[117] Gold 10,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[118] Gold 16,427[118]
France (SNEP)[119] 3× Platinum 400,000*
Ireland (IRMA)[120] Gold 7,500x
Italy (FIMI)[121] Platinum 60,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[122] Gold 30,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[123] Gold 7,500^
Poland (ZPAV)[124] Gold 10,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[125] Platinum 30,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[126] Platinum 300,000^
Europe (IFPI)[127] Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
Australia[128] 28 September 2012 Standard, deluxe, box set, 2 LP Warner Music
Poland[136] 1 October 2012 Standard, deluxe, 2 LP
United Kingdom[137] Standard, deluxe, box set, 2 LP Helium 3
Italy[138] 2 October 2012 Warner Music
Canada[139] Standard, deluxe, 2 LP Warner Bros.
United States[140]
Japan[141] 3 October 2012 Standard, deluxe, box set Warner Music
Sweden[142] Standard, deluxe, box set, 2 LP

See also[edit]


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