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The Prodigy (Dance)

The Prodigy navigated the high wire, balancing artistic merit and mainstream visibility with more flair than any electronica act of the 1990s. Ably defeating the image-unconscious attitude of most electronic artists in favor of a focus on nominal frontman Keith Flint, the group crossed over to the mainstream of pop music with an incendiary live experience that approximated the original atmosphere of the British rave scene even while leaning uncomfortably close to arena rock showmanship and punk theatrics. True, Flint's spiky hairstyle and numerous piercings often made for better advertising, but it was producer Liam Howlett whose studio wizardry launched the Prodigy to the top of the charts, spinning a web of hard-hitting breakbeat techno with king-sized hooks and unmissable samples.

Despite electronic music's diversity and quick progression during the 1990s -- from rave/hardcore to ambient/downtempo and back again, thanks to the breakbeat/drum'n'bass movement -- Howlett modified the Prodigy's sound only sparingly; swapping the rave-whistle effects and ragga samples for metal chords and chanted vocals proved the only major difference in the band's evolution from its debut to its worldwide breakthrough with third album The Fat of the Land. Even before the band took its place as the premiere dance act for the alternative masses, the Prodigy had proved a consistent entry in the British charts, with over a dozen consecutive singles in the Top 20.

Howlett, the prodigy behind the group's name, was trained on the piano while growing up in Braintree, Essex. He began listening to hip-hop in the mid-'80s and later DJ'ed with the British rap act Cut to Kill before moving on to acid house later in the decade. The fledgling hardcore breakbeat sound was perfect for an old hip-hop fan fluent in uptempo dance music, and Howlett began producing tracks in his bedroom studio during 1988. His first release, the EP What Evil Lurks, became a major mover on the fledgling rave scene in 1990. After Howlett met up with Keith Flint and Leeroy Thornhill (both Essex natives as well) in the growing British rave scene, the trio formed the Prodigy later that year. Howlett's recordings gained the trio a contract with XL Records, which re-released What Evil Lurks in February 1991.

Six months later, Howlett issued his second single, "Charly," built around a sample from a children's public service announcement. It hit number one on the British dance charts, then crossed over to the pop charts, stalling only at number three. (It wasn't long before a copycat craze saw the launch of rave takeoffs on Speed Racer, The Magic Roundabout, and Sesame Street.) Two additional Prodigy singles, "Everybody in the Place" and "Fire/Jericho," charted in the U.K. during late 1991 and early 1992.

The Prodigy showed they were no one-anthem wonders in late 1992, with the release of The Prodigy Experience, one of the first LPs by a rave act. Mixing chunky breakbeats with vocal samples from dub legend Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, it hit the Top Ten and easily went gold. During 1993, Howlett added a ragga/hip-hop MC named Maxim Reality (Keeti Palmer) and occupied himself with remix work for Front 242, Jesus Jones, and Art of Noise. He also released the white-label single "Earthbound" to fool image-conscious DJs who had written off the Prodigy as hopelessly commercial. Late 1993 brought the commercial release of "Earthbound" (as the group's seventh consecutive Top 20 singles entry, "One Love").

After several months of working on tracks, Howlett issued the next Prodigy single, "No Good (Start the Dance)." Despite the fact that the single's hook was a sped-up diva-vocal tag (an early rave staple), the following album, Music for the Jilted Generation, provided a transition for the group, from piano pieces and rave-signal tracks to more guitar-integrated singles like "Voodoo People." The album also continued the Prodigy's allegiance to breakbeat drum'n'bass; though the style had only recently become commercially viable (after a long gestation period in the dance underground), Howlett had been incorporating it from the beginning of his career. Music for the Jilted Generation entered the British charts at number one and went gold in its first week of release. The album was also nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, as one of the best albums of the year.

The Prodigy spent much of 1994 and 1995 touring around the world, and made a splashy appearance at the 1995 Glastonbury Festival, proving that electronica could make it in a live venue. The group had already made a transition from the club/rave circuit to more traditional rock venues, and the Glastonbury show set in stone the fact that they were no longer just a dance group. Flint's newly emerged persona -- the consummate in-your-face punk showman and master of ceremonies for the digital-age crowd -- provided a point of reference for rock critics uncomfortable covering Howlett (whom they saw as a glorified keyboard player).

The Prodigy's incessant road schedule left little time to record, but Howlett managed to bring out the next new Prodigy single in March 1996. "Firestarter" entered the British charts at number one, though the video was almost banned due to complaints about arson fixation; many Top of the Pops viewers also complained that Keith Flint had scared their children. An unmissable guitar hook and Flint's catcall vocal antics -- his first on record -- made it a quick worldwide hit, and though "Firestarter" wasn't a major success in the U.S., its high-profile spot in MTV's Buzz Bin introduced the Prodigy to many Americans and helped fuel the major-label push for electronica during the following year (though the Prodigy did reject collaborative offers from David Bowie, U2, and Madonna). In the middle of the electronica buzz, the Prodigy dropped their third album, The Fat of the Land. Despite rather obvious attempts to court mainstream rock fans (including several guest vocalist spots and an L7 cover), the LP entered both British and American charts at number one, shifting several million units worldwide. The next Prodigy full-length was 1999's The Dirtchamber Sessions, a mix album helmed by Howlett.

The "Baby's Got a Temper" single -- one Howlett would later disown -- appeared in 2002, and soon after Leeroy Thornhill left the band. Maxim and Keith Flint were still in the band but they weren't to be found on 2004's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. Instead, the album featured guest spots from Oasis' Liam Gallagher, Kool Keith, Twista, and actress Juliette Lewis. Flint and Maxim did join Howlett for a worldwide tour to support the album that launched in October 2004. Five years later, Invaders Must Die signaled a return to the rave sound of their debut, and also found both Flint and Maxim back as core members. The lead single "Omen" reached number three on the British charts prior to the album's release, and Invaders Must Die debuted at the top spot on the British album charts. The live album World's on Fire followed, recorded in 2010 at the Prodigy's own Warrior's Dance festival. Early in 2015 the group announced its sixth studio album, The Day Is My Enemy. Preceded by the single "Nasty," the album featured guest appearances from Sleaford Mods and Flux Pavilion. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Nasty (Single)

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Track List: Omen

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Track List: Omen (Radio Single)

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Track List: Smack My B**ch Up (Major Lazer Remix) (Single)

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Track List: Smack My B**ch Up (Noisia Remix)

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Track List: Smack My B**ch Up (Radio Single)

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Track List: The Day Is My Enemy (Single)

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Track List: Wild Frontier (Single)

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Track List: Wild West (Single)

Comments

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Prodigy.. I love how everyone gets hurt about "smack my biitch up" but if you look at their stations you'll find NWA etc.. WTF
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smack my b**ch up
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good skate music... bringing back memories of pumping around the parks, launching air and collecting scabs.....
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I agree davidlpiggot t .
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Prodigy good training music always bumping them on my long runs,speed work or when hitting the heavy bag. Keep bringing it ready for new cd
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love it
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Really rocks
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lovethe wayitFEELZ
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Dance me out...big time.
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Firestarter. . . Techno is new to me... Mostly Ministry NWO yet... Good beat
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Aww the sweetest sounds c*m from moaning.. Makes me want to find a warehouse and turn this mofo out..
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Breathe with me.....
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Man, I use TheProdigy as my username on most of my games, and now i'm listening to a band by the same name, and I love their music! :D
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The prodigy = murder on wax!!!
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Love Prodigy, and this writeup is more in-depth than I've heard. Thanks for that :)
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love it
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A band far ahead of its time.
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Prodigy has given me happy pants since the very beginning… all those high school and college parties and illegit outdoor fests, gorgeous girls everywhere like this KoRnie lady here- just awesome… Mindless music for sure but Oh. So. Great. This is the soundtrack to my early formative years lol. Music for the jilted generation and The fat of the land are by far my fav albums by them. Phrickin' great.
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Og
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Won't b hearing this again thumb them day 2 much only played there bad songs :-<
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Hay Hampton 770 yea your right it's a government mind control experiment !!!!!!
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This og. I love. This
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lol this song was in the movie kick a**
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Badass mix!
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Gotta love Omen
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Best song ever��
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hampton7706
I'm using IE 8 and Firefox... Pandora, No Facebook, Some Twitter and LinkedIn.. I thought that meant I can't be seen. Let me try some different colors themes and pick a different best number..
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Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works
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samkpaulsen
hi
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hampton7706
Military runs Pandora.. no doubt.
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This is the song I listen to while playing Dark Souls.
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love it
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f**k yes!
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Love the s**t out of this track. Best Prodigy song in my opinion. The video is ba af too.
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Fus ra dah!!!!!!!
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Ikr
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zone out on omen
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nicko252008
Added fat EP is pretty sick
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Is it cool that I say that I'm 14 and love this? Because I've gotten negative comments about my posts.
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tony.ocana
Charlie's Angels, haha!
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I like this song like I like my morning coffee...I hate coffee
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nicko252008
Feel the pressure, come play me game I'll test ya.
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Smack my b**ch up
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Wait what must die?!?...... . . o h yeah invaders.
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love it
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dmitry.grase v i t c h
Very talented!
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Ah... also on kickass. Such good a movie. Two was also good too!
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But but I don't want to be the victim
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I'm the prodigy and I permit u to breathe with me
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Omen is an amazing track! And The fat of the land album changed my life of how I viewed music as teen during my middle school years.
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