The Prodigy

The Prodigy

Infobox musical artist |
Name = The Prodigy

Img_capt =
Img_size = 200px
Background = group_or_band
Alias =
Origin = Braintree, Essex, England
Genre = Electronic, Rave, Big Beat, Electropunk, Hardcore, Breakbeat, Industrial, Alternative rock
Years_active = 1990–present
Label = Ragged Flag, Cooking Vinyl, XL, Beggars Banquet, Mute, Maverick, Warner Bros., Elektra
Associated_acts =
URL = []
Current_members = Liam Howlett Keith Flint Maxim
Past_members = Leeroy Thornhill Sharky

The Prodigy are an electronic music group formed by Liam Howlett in 1990, in Braintree, Essex, England. Along with The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, The Crystal Method, and a few other lesser-known acts, they were pioneers of the Big Beat genre. They have sold over 16 million records worldwide which is unequaled in electronic music history. [ [ The Prodigy - Music in Review: The Prodigy: DVD ] ] Their music consists of various styles ranging from rave, hardcore, industrial and, breakbeat in the early 1990s to alternative rock and big beat with punk vocal elements in later times. The current band members include Liam Howlett (composer/keyboards), Keith Flint (dancer/vocalist) and Maxim (MC/vocalist). Leeroy Thornhill (dancer/very occasional live keyboards) was a member of the band from 1990 to 2000, as well was a female dancer/vocalist called Sharky who left the band during their early period. The Prodigy first emerged on the underground rave scene in the early 1990s, and have since then achieved immense popularity and worldwide renown. Some of their most popular songs include "Charly", "Out of Space", "Smack My Bitch Up", "Voodoo People", "No Good (Start the Dance)", "Breathe" and "Firestarter".

The name displayed on album covers changed from "The Prodigy" to "Prodigy" between "Music for the Jilted Generation" and "The Fat of the Land" in 1997 and back again with the release of "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned" in 2004. However, Howlett has stated that the title has always been "The Prodigy". The change was made only to fit within the displayed logo, according to Howlett."Howlett L", "Nekozine" online zine (November 2005), name's changes mentioned in an interview with Liam Howlett by Andrea Schnepf, last accessed 25 May 2005 ( [ link] ).] "James M", "Prodigy" book (2002), p. 44, Sanctuary Publishing, mentions that Liam chose the name to attribute his Moog synth.]

The old website had a section dedicated to the future of The Prodigy, the only info was "We have started writing and recording new material for the 5th Prodigy album. We will be recording for the most of next year as well as playing live around the globe. Liam, Keith & Maxim." They have been confirmed as performing at Rock am Ring and Rock im Park in June 2008, as well as T In the Park and Oxegen in July and on the Channel 4 stage at V Festival and Jersey Live in August. Early next year they are set to tour Australia and New Zealand at Big Day Out.



The Prodigy began with an initial 10-track demo by Liam Howlett, put together on a Roland W-30 sequencer keyboard in Essex, England. XL Recordings picked up the demo after Howlett played several tracks to XL boss Nick Halkes in a meeting and an initial 12" pressing of "What Evil Lurks" was released in February 1991. There are some few thousand bootlegs of this release; the original should have "the exchange" carved in the vinyl around the center of the single. The Prodigy's name was a moniker Liam had chosen as a tribute to his first analogue synthesiser, the Moog Prodigy.

The Prodigy's first public performance (with Howlett augmented by dancers Keith Flint and Leeroy Thornhill) was at the Four Aces in Dalston, London. "Charly" released six months later, became a huge hit in the rave scene at the time, reaching #3 in the UK Singles Chart, catapulting the band into the wider public attention. The Kaos Theory compilation series featured "G Force (Energy Flow)" from their third single "Everybody in the Place".

In the wake of "Charly"'s success the music charts were filled with unsophisticated "hardcore" rave tracks to which speed and ecstasy-filled clubbers had danced all night, but which did not appeal to critics in the music press. Examples were tracks such as Urban Hype's "Trip to Trumpton", and Smart E's (as in Ecstasy) "Sesame's Treet", instigating death-by-publicity to the underground "hardcore rave" scene according to many critics, ravers and followers of the scene. As a result "Charly" (a contemporary reference to cocaine), with its memorable sample of the "Charley Says" children's Public information films and the Prodigy were briefly identified by critics as "kiddie rave" or "Toytown Techno".

"Charly" was soon followed by the band's first full length album, "Experience", a landmark release in the history of British rave music. After "Experience" (album track "Death of the Prodigy Dancers" featured Ragga MC band member Maxim Reality) and the run of singles that accompanied it, the Prodigy moved to distance themselves from the "kiddie rave" reputation that now dogged them. The rave scene was beginning to move on from its hardcore phase, with the Criminal Justice Act's "anti-rave" legislation on the horizon. In 1993, Howlett released an anonymous white label, bearing only the title "Earthbound I". Its hypnotic, hard-edged sound won wide underground approval. Many former critics of the band were astounded when Howlett finally acknowledged responsibility for the record [ [ » Prodigy discography » promos » One Love ] ] . It was officially released as "One Love" later that year, and went on to chart at #8 in the UK.

In 1994, the Prodigy's second album, "Music for the Jilted Generation", was released entering the UK album charts at #1. The album displayed a wider spectrum of musical style with heavy techno and breakbeat-based tracks complemented by the concept sequence "The Narcotic Suite", and rock-oriented inclinations ("Their Law", featuring Pop Will Eat Itself). The album was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize although Howlett had reaffirmed his dedication to making The Prodigy a 'hard dance band', commercially successful but without compromise. The band managed to continue to prevent over-exposure in the media by refusing to appear on "Top of the Pops" or other TV shows in the UK. To this day their only studio appearance on British television came when they appeared on the BBC2 series "Dance Energy" in 1991 performing "Everybody in the Place". In the ensuing years their videos received a strong level of support by MTV Europe which boosted their popularity across the continent. Keith Flint himself hosted an episode of the MTV show "120 Minutes" in 1995.

Following the international success of "Music for the Jilted Generation" the band augmented their line-up with guitarist Jim Davies (who, later, joined the group Pitchshifter) in 1995 for tracks such as "Their Law", "Break and Enter 95", and various live-only interludes and versions. The 1996 release of "Firestarter", featuring vocals for the first time courtesy of a new-look Keith Flint, helped the band break into the U.S. and other overseas markets, and reached number one in the UK. In this year the Prodigy also headlined the prestigious Lollapalooza festival. "Firestarter"'s success was matched by the second single "Breathe" which gave the band their second number one single in the UK later that same year.

The long-awaited third Prodigy album, "The Fat of the Land", was released in 1997 just as the band headlined the Glastonbury festival on its opening night. Like its predecessors, the album represented a milestone in the development of both the band and the wider mainstream dance scene. Featuring simplified melodies, sparser sampling, and more sneering, punk-like vocals (supplied by a shockingly madeover Flint), the album nevertheless retained the bone-jarring breaks and buzzsaw synths so idiomatic of the band. The album cemented the band's position as one of the most internationally successful acts in the hard dance genre, entering the British and American charts at number one.

"Smack My Bitch Up" controversy (USA)

The Prodigy were getting considerable airplay on rock stations with their track "Smack My Bitch Up," and were getting even more negative backlash for the song. Time-Warner, Prodigy's parent company, was feeling the heat from the National Organization for Women (NOW) over the track. Although the song's lyrics are few but repetitive (in their entirety, the lyrics are "Change my pitch up, smack my bitch up"), NOW stated that the lyrics are a "...dangerous and offensive message advocating violence against women." Howlett responded to the attacks by claiming that the song's lyrics are being misinterpreted: (the song means) "...doing anything intensely, like being on stage – going for extreme manic energy." The band did not write the lyric, but rather sampled it from the classic Ultramagnetic MCs' track "Give The Drummer Some" which also appears on the "Dirtchamber Sessions" (they had also sampled another Ultramagnetic MCs song "Critical Beatdown" on their earlier "Out of Space" single). [Liner notes from "Out Of Space" single and "Experience" album.] Several radio stations defended the song, yet only played the track at night. The music video (directed by Jonas Åkerlund) featured a first-person point of view of someone going clubbing, indulging in large amounts of drugs and alcohol, getting into fist fights with men, abusing women and picking up a lap dancer and having sex with her as well, all displaying the scenes extremely graphically. At the end of the video the camera pans over to a mirror, revealing the subject to be a woman. MTV only aired the video between 1 and 5 a.m. The director got the inspiration for the contents of the video after a night of drinking and partying in Copenhagen.

During a performance at the Reading Festival (August 29th, 1998) The Prodigy and the Beastie Boys had an onstage disagreement over the track - with the Beastie Boys requesting the song should be pulled from their set as it could be considered offensive to those who had suffered domestic abuse. [ [ Claustrophobic PRODIGY Page - Facts - The Reading Incident ] ] Choosing to ignore the Beastie Boys plea, Maxim introduced "Smack My Bitch Up" with the declaration "They didn’t want us to play this fucking tune. But the way things go, I do what the fuck I want". The incident has since become part of festival folklore, and was voted one of the greatest ever live moments by the now defunct Select Magazine.
Wal-Mart and Kmart later announced they would pull "The Fat of the Land" off their shelves. Despite the fact that the LP had resided on their store shelves for over 20 weeks, and the fact that they had sold 150,000 copies of the album in total, the two stores found the marketing campaign for the new single release offensive.

In mid-2002, the complete, unedited video was aired on MTV2 as part of a special countdown showing the most controversial videos ever to air on MTV. This countdown was only shown late at night because of the graphic imagery of "Smack My Bitch Up" and several other videos on the countdown. This video in particular was deemed the "Most Controversial Video" by MTV and showed at the #1 spot on the countdown.

Later works

1999 saw the release of The Prodigy's "Dirtchamber Sessions Volume 1", a DJ mix album by Howlett, produced as an official record of a successful guest appearance on the British Radio 1.

In 2002, after a break from touring and recording, the single "Baby's Got a Temper" was released to critical disappointment. The song was written by Keith Flint's sideband, Flint, and also featured Jim Davies. Howlett produced it. Once again, the band courted controversy by including references to the so-called "date rape" drug Rohypnol in the song lyrics, although it is unclear whether or not the band "glorifies" or presents the drug in a negative light. In the same year, however, "Q" magazine named The Prodigy as one of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die".

The Prodigy's fourth studio album, "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned" was released on 23 August 2004 (14 September 2004 in the USA.) A precursory and experimental single, "Memphis Bells", was released in very limited numbers, followed by the traditional release of the single "Girls". The U.S. version of the studio album contained a bonus track; a remix of "Girls" entitled, "More Girls".

5,000 digital copies of "Memphis Bells" were sold over the Internet. Each copy was a combination of customer-chosen instrumental, rhythmic, and melodic options, of which 39,600 (of 660,000 total) choices were available. Five mixes were sold in three file formats, WAV, two audio mixes in MP3, and a 5.1 DTS surround sound mix and all were free of Digital rights management. The experiment was a success, with the 5,000 copies being sold in just over 36 hours in spite of server problems from the demand.

In 2005, they released a compilation, "", which spawned a single containing new remixes of the songs "Out of Space" (the "Audio Bullys Remix") and "Voodoo People" (the "Pendulum Remix"). The latter was also followed by a music video which featured on the DVD release of the compilation. Sharky, the group's only female member, is shown running and winning the race depicted in the video.

Their work has been featured in several video games, TV shows and movies. For instance, the video game ' featured the song "You'll Be Under My Wheels", which was also used in an advert for the BMW 1 Series as well as the closing credits for the film '. The Pendulum Remix of "Voodoo People" appears on the soundtrack to the PS2 tuning car video game "Juiced 2". As from the album "The Fat of the Land", songs like "Firestarter" appeared in its instrumental version in the videogame "Wipeout 2097", while "Mindfields" appeared in the film "The Matrix", and the track "Funky Shit" in the closing scene and end credits of "Event Horizon". The titles "Voodoo People" and "One Love" appear in the soundtrack of the movie "Hackers" and also in the French movies "Wasabi" and "Dobermann". In 2006, "Spitfire" from "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned" appeared in the opening scenes of an episode of "CSI: Las Vegas" on the CBS network in the USA, as well as a featured track in the popular Xbox 360 racing simulator, "Forza Motorsport 2". It also appeared in the movie "House of Wax". The song "Breathe" was also featured in a FLIP skateboard companies video entitled "Sorry" and was used by Rune Glifberg. "Breathe" was also used as the entrance theme for professional wrestler Al Snow during his successful run with Extreme Championship Wrestling. Interestingly, the film "Charlie's Angels" made extensive use in its soundtrack of the controversial track "Smack My Bitch Up" in its first main fight sequence; this song was also used on the successful film "Scary Movie 2". The sequel, "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle", continues this trend with its use of "Breathe" and "Firestarter" in two major action sequences. The 2007 film "Smokin' Aces" used "First Warning" as the soundtrack to its violent climax, and Vexille the Japanese anime film also used the latest Prodigy track called "The Shadow" at the same year. Their song Hotride is used in the 2008 remake of the cult action film Death Race 2000.


The Prodigy are a difficult band to classify, because they have developed significantly with time. Each of their albums represents a distinct stage in the band's musical development. From their initial inception as a psychedelic rave band with scene staples such as "Your Love" and "Out of Space", to the more industrial dance of "No Good", to the rock-oriented "Their Law" to punk tracks such as the L7 cover "Fuel My Fire" in more recent years, the Prodigy continue to innovate and surprise. The Prodigy have had the ability over the years to appeal to widely varying cross-sections of music fans; from the purist dance festival Creamfields, to the more general appeal of T in the Park, to the heavy metal oriented Download Festival.

Because of their broad appeal to fans across several genres, the Prodigy have been described as "a rock band that plays electronic music."

2005–2008 recording sessions

Since the release of "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned", the band has played several unreleased songs in concert. According to The Prodigy's mangagement, their fifth studio album is expected to be completed October 2008, in time for a February 2009 release date. The album has been delayed several times, and there is no confirmed official release date. The name of the album and the track listing have also not been released yet. It is unconfirmed whether the album will contain all-new, never-before-performed songs, or if it will contain some of the songs which the band has already played in concert. The album will be released under the band's new label, "Take Me to the Hospital". [Citation
last = Howlett, Liam
title = Take Me to the Hospital
date = March 11 2008
year = 2008
url =,com_mojo/Itemid,204/p,3/
accessdate = 2008-07-06

The Prodigy's first two albums (1992's "Experience" and 1994's "Music For The Jilted Generation") are set to be re-released in expanded, deluxe editions on August 4 [ [ The Prodigy reissue first 2 albums and play new songs live] ] . As well as being remastered, the new packages will feature a bonus disc including mixes, rarities and live tracks. The two albums will also see expanded artwork in addition to the new musical content. In more The Prodigy news, the band showcased 4 new songs at the Oxegen Festival in the early hours of July 13th). Among the tracks previewed were "Worlds On Fire", "Warriors Dance", "Mescaline" and "First Warning", which recently featured in the gangster movie "Smokin' Aces".


Current members

*Liam HowlettKeyboards, Programming (1990 – )
*Keith Flint – Dancer, Vocalist (1990 – )
*Maxim – MC, Vocalist (1990 – )

Former members

*Leeroy ThornhillDancer, very occasional live keyboards (1990 – 2000)
*Sharky – Vocalist, Dancer (1990)

Live members

*Rob Holliday – Live Guitarist (2005 – 2006 and 2008)
* Leo Crabtree – Drummer (2008)

Former live members

*Gizz Butt – Live Guitarist, currently plays lead guitar in his own band The More I See (1996 – 1999)
*Jim Davies – Live and Studio Guitarist, has his own bands Pitchshifter and Victory Pill (1995 – 1996, 2002 – 2004)
*"The Rev" – Guitarist (2007)
*Alli Maclnnes – Guitarist (four gigs in summer 2001 and 2002 on the Big Day Out gigs)
*Kieron PepperDrummer and occasional Guitarist, now playing guitar with Victory Pill (December 1997 – May 2007)
*"Snell" – Drummer, played at two concerts in July 2007
*Brian Fairbairn – Drummer (2007)


tudio albums

* 1992: "Experience"
* 1994: "Music for the Jilted Generation"
* 1997: "The Fat of the Land"
* 2004: "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned"


* 1991: "What Evil Lurks"
* 2002: "Baby's Got a Temper"


* 1999: "The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One"
* 2005: ""
* 2006: "Back To Mine"


* 1991: "Charly"
* 1991: "Everybody in the Place"
* 1992: "Fire/Jericho"
* 1992: "Out of Space"
* 1993: "Wind It Up (Rewound)"
* 1993: "One Love"
* 1994: "No Good (Start the Dance)"
* 1994: "Voodoo People"
* 1995: "Poison"
* 1996: "Firestarter"
* 1996: "Breathe"
* 1997: "Smack My Bitch Up"
* 2004: "Girls"
* 2004: "Hotride"
* 2005: "Spitfire"
* 2005: "Voodoo People (Pendulum Remix)"
* 2008/9: TBAcol-end

Live Tracks (not on recordings): Gabba (1994), Trigger (2001), Nuclear (2001), Little Goblin (2001), Dust Yo'Self (2002), Night Boat To Cairo (2002), Warning (2004-2008), Heatwave Hurricane (2005), Dead Ken Beats (2006-2008), War (2007), Shadow of the Devil (3 different versions, 2007), Warriors Dance (2008), World's on Fire (2008), Mescaline/Unstoppable (2008), Beat 55 (2008), Take Me To The Hospital (2008).

Notes and references

External links

* [] − official website
*allmusicguide|id=11:dpfuxqt5ldfe|label=The Prodigy
* [ The Prodigy at WorldMusicDatabase]
*Discogs artist|artist=Prodigy,+The
* [ The Prodigy] at Facebook
*|The+Prodigy|The Prodigy
* at LyricWiki
*MySpace|theprodigy|The Prodigy
* [ The Prodigy] at Rate Your Music
* [ The Prodigy] at YouTube

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