Knights of Cydonia

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Not to be confused with Knights of Sidonia.
"Knights of Cydonia"
Single by Muse
from the album Black Holes and Revelations
Released 13 June 2006
Length 6:07 (Album version)
4:48 (International radio edit)
4:42 (US radio edit)
3:58 (Radio edit)
Writer(s) Matthew Bellamy
Muse singles chronology
"Knights of Cydonia"
Alternative cover
DVD single cover
7" Single
The "Knights of Cydonia" 7" cover
Black Holes and Revelations track listing
"Knights of Cydonia"
(12 (Japan Bonus track))
HAARP track listing
"Knights of Cydonia"

"Knights of Cydonia" is a song by English alternative rock band Muse and is the closing track on their 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations. The song's title comes in part from the region of Mars named Cydonia, famous for the "face on Mars". Cydonia or Kydonia is an ancient part of Chania on the Greek island of Crete.


The radio edit version was first aired on KROQ-FM radio on 6 June 2006, and released to other radio stations in the United States on 12 June 2006. The song was released as the third single from Black Holes & Revelations in the UK on 27 November 2006, debuting at No 10 in the UK Singles Chart (see 2006 in British music).[1] It also hit the No. 10 spot on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in the United States, becoming their third top-ten hit on that chart. The song was described by BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac on 27 October 2006 as ‘six minutes and seven seconds of pure genius’. In 2007, Eve of Summer recorded a remix.

The first live performance of "Knights of Cydonia" took place at a BBC Radio 1 event, Radio 1's Big Weekend, held at Camperdown Park in Dundee on 13 May 2006. Also performed at this event were "Supermassive Black Hole" and "Starlight", the first two singles from Black Holes and Revelations. Live performances of "Knights of Cydonia" feature lead singer Matt Bellamy's intro falsetto much more loudly and clearly than its studio counterpart, along with Dominic Howard's introductory drum pattern being included in the performance. Since 2008, live performances have featured an introduction of Ennio Morricone's "The Man With the Harmonica" from Once Upon a Time in the West where bassist Chris Wolstenholme plays a harmonica piece. Other live additions include Bellamy playing an extra guitar part during the solo at the end of song, Howard ending the song with a short drum solo and the coda of "Space Dementia" played as a finale.

On 26 January 2008, "Knights of Cydonia" was announced as the number-one song in Australia's 2007 Triple J Hottest 100. The song was also ranked No. 18 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time, 2009. It was also ranked No. 53 on Rhapsody's list of the Top 100 Tracks of the Decade.[2] In October 2011, NME placed it at number 44 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[3]

Track listing[edit]

  • Promo PRO-16112
  1. Knights of Cydonia (radio edit) - 4:48
  • US Promo CD-R PRO-CDR-101829
  1. Knights of Cydonia (radio edit) - 4:42
  2. Knights of Cydonia (album version) - 6:07 (6:06.863)
  • 7" HEL3004, Digital download
  1. Knights of Cydonia - 6:07
  2. Assassin (Grand Omega Bosses Edit) - 5:19
  • CD HEL3004CD
  1. Knights of Cydonia - 6:07
  2. Supermassive Black Hole (live from the Campo Pequeno in Lisbon)
  • DVD HEL3004DVD
  1. Knights of Cydonia (video) - 6:07
  2. Knights of Cydonia (audio) - 6:07
  3. Knights of Cydonia (the making of) - 10:59
  4. Gallery

Composition and meaning[edit]

In the intro is a citation of the five tone musical phrase from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The song features synthesised and live trumpet parts overlaid with vocals from both Matt Bellamy's higher and lower reaches spanning B3-E6. The guitar sound in the song was inspired by the 1962 number one hit "Telstar" by The Tornados (George Bellamy, Matt Bellamy's father, was the band's rhythm guitarist).[4] The song, taken in entirety, also bears a striking resemblance to George Bellamy's composition "Ridin' the Wind". The first noise heard in the song is an explosion, then a horse neigh. The first 2:03 of the song is a guitar solo to the tune of the lyrics, before Bellamy sings "Come ride with me, through the veins of history."

The song's meaning is to teach people to stand up for themselves and make their own destiny.[5]

Bellamy has stated that on the album in general he tried to create a vision of what is occurring in the song. For example, the bassline has a galloping rhythm resembling someone riding a horse.[6]

Music video[edit]

The Knights of Cydonia video was shot over five days: three days in Romania; one day in London; and one day in Red Rock, California; it was made available on 11 July 2006. It was filmed and edited as a thematic smörgåsbord: a spaghetti western film with post-apocalyptic influence, complete with beginning and end credits, livened with the occasional kung-fu cowboy or metal-clad maiden astride a unicorn. The presence of futuristic elements such as robots and ray-guns may indicate that the town "Cydonia" is meant to be located on a terraformed Mars. At the end of the video one can see Roman numerals MCMLXXXI which translates as 1981. However, in the introduction of one version of the video, the numerals MCLMXXXI are seen,[7] which despite claims that it could equal 2081 (MMLXXXI) or 1881 (MDCCCLXXXI), is not a valid Roman numeral. However, other versions show MCMLXXXI in both places.[8]

The video was directed by Joseph Kahn, and stars British actor Russ Bain as the protagonist (The Man With No Name), Richard Brake as the antagonist (Sheriff Baron Klaus Rottingham), and Cassandra Bell as the love interest (Princess Shane Kuriyami). Throughout the video, the actors mouth out the lyrics, such as Russ Bain pilloried in town square mouthing ‘No one's going to take me alive’, and Cassandra Bell at the gallows ‘You and I must fight for our rights’. In both instances, the mouthed words occur after the song lyrics and complete before the song moves on to the next line. The band appears in some scenes as holograms, and there are also some scenes featuring lead singer Matt Bellamy. Additionally, the population of the town Cydonia is 143, a common symbol for "I love you",[9] although the actual meaning is unknown.

A very brief scene in which Bain has sex with his love interest was edited out of the video for presentation on television. The complete, uncensored version is available for viewing at the Director's website, and at In the scene where Bain has sex, the camera crew can be intentionally seen in the mirror left of the bed.

In the first minute of the video, the words A Gustof von Musterhausen Production appear in a pink background for a few seconds. Von Musterhausen appears to be a fictional person, although there is a MySpace page[10] for one Gustaf von Musterhausen (not Gustof), which seems to be solely dedicated to providing information about the video.


A remix of the song was released as Future Funk Squad vs. Muse - "Knights Of Cydonia" (Breaks Mix)

An unlicensed remix by Feed Me was released as a white label single. There is also an unlicensed remix which was released on the Crisp Biscuit label, entitled "Knights of Itchy Town".

A remix by Simian Mobile Disco titled Knights of Cydonia (Simian Mobile Disco Remix) is also included on Muse's Invincible EP, released in 2007. The song, however, utilises very few elements of the original song.

Oakland hip hop group Zion I released a notable remix of the song in 2008.[11]

A remix by Gramatik was released in the "Official & Bootleg Remixes, Colabs & Rare Tracks" album in 2012.[12]

Chart performance[edit]

"Knights of Cydonia" entered the UK Singles Chart the week of 2006-12-04 at No. 10.

"Knights of Cydonia" - UK Singles Chart[13]

Prior to its entry in the Singles Chart, "Knights of Cydonia" had been active in the Downloads Chart, and sat at No. 41 the same week that the physical release debuted at No. 10 in the Singles Chart. Three weeks earlier, the song sat at No. 104 in the Downloads Chart marking a substantial jump in that time period. The song also reached number 2 in the charts in both Flanders and Wallonia of Belgium. It peaked at number 20 in Norway.

The song was the winner of Triple J's annual Hottest 100 countdown for 2007 winning by only 13 votes, and later was voted No. 18 in 2009's Hottest 100 of All Time countdown, where it was the second-highest ranked song from the 21st century.

"Knights of Cydonia" - UK Official Download Chart[14]

In pop culture[edit]

  • Starting in 2013, the song is played at the beginning of every Dallas Stars power play during home games.
  • The song is used on the advertisements of Whale Wars on Animal Planet.
  • The song was featured in the music video games Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Rocksmith 2014.
  • "Knights of Cydonia" is also the first song to play on NME Radio that kicked off on 24 June 2008 as voted by the readers of the channels counterpart magazine.
  • "Knights of Cydonia" was played during Australia's coverage of the 2008 Olympics on channel 7.
  • The song was used by the WGI ensemble Rhythm X as a closer to their 2010 show "Inspired".
  • It has been cited by Patrick Ness as inspiration for the writing of his science fiction YA novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go.
  • シドニアの騎士 (Knights of Sidonia) is a manga by Tsutomu Nihei, currently serialized in Kodansha's Afternoon.
  • The song was used for the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, and a version of the intro is used by the brass band at Seattle Sounders FC football matches.
  • The New York City School Of Rock did a cover of it during their Muse vs. Radiohead show in 2012.
  • The song was used in a TV Spot for the fifth series of the BBC show Merlin.
  • Musician Gr4m4tik covered the song in 2009.
  • The song was also played on NBC during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing right after Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal and broke Mark Spitz's record of "number of gold medals won in one Olympics".
  • The song was used on Sky Sports for pre-match coverage of the Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur game on the 24th of November 2013.
  • The song was featured in the documentary Warren Miller's Playground.
  • The song was featured in the documentary about the extreme skier "McConkey" (2013).
  • The song was featured in the Halo 5: Guardians Launch Gameplay Trailer and accompanying advertisements in 2015, which caused the track to see a resurgence in popularity due to the advertisements' large presence in prime-time programming.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
One Crowded Hour by Augie March
Triple J Hottest 100 Winner
Succeeded by
Sex On Fire by Kings of Leon