Recently The Prodigy front man and singer Keith Flint took his own life. While not the creative force behind the band he often was the face of it. His raver punk style visually summed up a great deal of what the band represented, particularly in its heyday. An surprisingly experimental band with a take no prisoners attitude, The Prodigy reveled in the energy Flint brought to the stage. It is truly a sad loss for the music world today and our hearts go out to his friends and loved ones. But, rather than strictly mourn his death we would like to take a moment to celebrate his life. In honor of Mr. Flint’s life we present the top 10 most influential Prodigy tracks.
10. Everybody is in the Place – The second single from the band’s first album Experience is as frenetic and wild as anything else on the album. Fast tempos, lots of 1/16 (and occasional 1/32) notes in both rhythm and melody, and speed up samples are hallmarks of early Prodigy songs, all of which are present here. The high pitch, high octane sound paired well with the harlequin-esq and Mardi Gras colors and patterns that dominated that bands early aesthetic that are on full display in the video.
9. One Love – After finding success with their first album The Prodigy faced the inevitable backlash from their underground roots. Suddenly labeled as commercial at best and sell out at worst by the underground DJs and fans the band responded by releasing a new track as a white label record (i.e. having no band name, just a song title.) The song was a resounding success until the DJs caught wind of who produced it and promptly shunned it like a bunch of wankers. Their loss, still a phenomenal track years later.
8. No Good Start The Dance – Numerically the band’s biggest hit from their second album Music For The Jilted Generation. This track doesn’t break much new ground, especially in comparison to other tracks on the album. However, what it does is demonstrate the potential of the art form. Overly simplistic compositions have long dominated the EDM world. The music video, while fairly straightforward, is fairly captivating and does a decent job of representing the stage personalities of the band members.
7. Out of Space/Rough in the Jungle – A bit of a cheat here, but the singles were released together and for good reason. Blending styles is something that became synonymous with the Prodigy album Fat of the Land but you can see its roots farther back. While not outside of the bands wheelhouse Rough in The Jungle Bizness and Out Of Space took elements from the EDM sub genres jungle and drum and bass placed in into a more mainstream context. Out of Space adds a reggae element by building it around a sample from Max Romero’s Chase the Devil. The juxtaposing breakneck speeds of jungle and the chill reggae vibe creates a wacky but totally engaging song (joyously presented by the dance off aspect of the music video) While some of the bands earlier songs feel dated, both of these hold up surprisingly well.
6. Smack my Bitch Up – The Prodigy has been no stranger to controversy but SMBU caused quite a stir at the time. The eponymous sample coming from rapper Kool Keith was meant to be flippant and silly. However, many viewed it as flat out sexist or misogynistic. The music video, which was often banned or relegated to late night viewings, only added fuel to the fire. Surprisingly, Madonna was one of the bands ardent champions who often shot down remarks of the inherent sexism in the song. We’ve put a live recording up instead of the music video as the later is both very much NSFW and hard to find in good quality.
5. Poison – A strong hip hop beat and a sample from House of Pain marks the bands first major foray into experimenting with hip hop. It wouldn’t be the last, however, as Liam Howlett is a self proclaimed fan of 90’s hip hop and often slips it in wherever he can. The song made a minor splash internationally even managing to land a video on two episodes of MTV’s Beavis and Butthead. The song also marks the bands move to much darker motiffs both musically and aesthetically.
4. Charley – Charley is often considered one of the more pivotal songs in the EDM genre. Among the first of its kind to reach a wider audience it reached #3 on the UK charts. Both the song and the video are very much, er, products of their time – the influence of Charley and its mainstream success cannot really be understated.
3. Voodoo People – While it didn’t do as well in the charts as some of the others on this list it remains one of the staples of genre. Pulling samples from the likes of Nirvana and Led Zeppelin, the song morphs them into something wholly different and unique. It has a music video that, while not exactly culturally sensitive, has a brilliant narrative sensibility to it.
2. Breathe – Hip hop, EDM, and rock music fused into one weird and wonderful mix. Like the album from whence it came, Breathe gained international acclaim. It is one of the bands few songs to reach #1 on multiple international charts.
1. Firestarter – While one of my least favorite songs of the band it is the one that rocketed them to international acclaim. Blending hard rock and EDM sounds and sensibilities garnered the attention of the international community. Suddenly people who normally wouldn’t touch dance music with a ten foot pole were picking up the bands third album Fat of the Land. The Prodigy was not the first band to experiment with guitars and other genres blended into EDM but they were the band that brought it into the mainstream.
Do you have any memories of Keith Flint or The Prodigy? Agree or disagree with our list? If so share them in the comments below.