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So, about that fire that needed starting...

The Prodigy are an Electronic Music band from the UK. Besides being popular in their own right, they were one of the most important bands of the "Big Beat" subgenre of The Nineties (the other were The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, for starters).

The band were formed in 1990. Its membership since then has been relatively stable, comprising:

  • Liam Howlett - one man band, handles all the keyboards, programming, producing and songwriting
  • Keith Flint - vocalist, also known for his Horned Hairdo and generally scary appearance
  • Maxim Reality (real name Keith Andrew Palmer, confusingly) - vocalist/MC, contributes rapping

Their fourth member, Leeroy Thornhill, was a dancer who occasionally played keyboards live. He left in 2000.

The Prodigy's early material was largely straightforward rave with humorous samples thrown in, as shown by their debut album Experience. While this was a success in the early 1990s and spawned several singles like "Out of Space" and "Charly", it gave them a reputation as lightweights, attracting derisive nicknames like "kiddie ravers" or "Toytown techno". Inspired by the impending passage of the landmark Criminal Justice Act (which cracked down hard on the rave scene) Howlett threw out all the bright and colourful rave for their follow-up Music for the Jilted Generation, instead cultivating an angry, heavy sound drawing from techno, breakbeat and industrial rock. The track "Their Law" marked their first collaboration with a rock band, Pop Will Eat Itself, while "Voodoo People" kept them on the charts.

The band's landmark success finally came with The Fat of the Land. By this point, Howlett had managed to upgrade his equipment, making the beats heavier and giving the album an overall intense, creepy atmosphere. He also took the rock inclinations shown on Jilted one step further and openly aimed his music at the Alternative Rock audience, bringing Jim Davies (from the industrial rock band Pitchshifter) to add awesome guitar riffs all over the place, sampling from more rock songs, letting Keith and Maxim add more shouted vocals and including a straight Cover Version of "Fuel My Fire" by L7. Howlett also put in more outside contributions, bringing in Matt Cameron, Tom Morello (on the bonus track "No Man Army"), Kool Keith and others. His gambit worked: Fat became a massive success in the UK and USA (where it went to #1), spawned several hit singles with Nightmare Fuellerrific videos ("Smack My Bitch Up", "Breathe" and "Firestarter") and brought them an audience of rock fans that otherwise didn't really pay attention to electronic music. There was also controversy involved over the video to "Smack My Bitch Up", (which featured more nudity then any other video up to that point, as well as scenes of violence, drug use, and drunk driving), to the point that MTV refused to air it before midnight. But this turned out to be a case of No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, as it won a VMA.

The band enjoyed their time in the spotlight and laid low for a few years. Howlett put out a mix album named The Dirtchamber Sessions Vol. 1, Leeroy Thornhill left in 2000 and the band also parted ways with their live guitarist Gizz Butt, but nothing much was heard from their camp for a while. Their next single, "Baby's Got a Temper", was released in 2002 to critical disappointment. A new album, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, followed two years later. It was greeted with general disappointment as well.

After another four-year pause, the band put out a new album, Invaders Must Die. This was noticeably better received than Outnumbered.

Discography :

  • Experience (1992)
  • Music for the Jilted Generation (1994)
  • The Fat of the Land (1997)
  • Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (2004)
  • Invaders Must Die (2009)

Tropes associated with The Prodigy :

  • And Then John Was a Zombie - "You're the firestarter, twisted firestarter."
  • Chorus-Only Song
  • Cover Version - "Fuel My Fire" was originally by L7.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band - Howlett got the band's name from his Moog Prodigy synthesizer.
  • Fading Into the Next Song: Used extensively on Experience.
    • "Jericho" → "Music Reach (1/2/3/4) "Wind It Up" → "Your Love" → "Hyperspeed" → "Charly" "Out of Space" → "Everybody in the Place" "Weather Experience" → "Fire" → "Ruff in the Jungle Bizness"
  • Horned Hairdo - Keith Flint
  • Mondegreen - "Change my picture, snap my picture".
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly to the part they created a whole new genre known as big beat.
  • New Sound Album - Music for the Jilted Generation, arguably The Fat of the Land and Invaders Must Die.
    • Oh, sweet zombie Jesus, the video for "Girls".
  • Ominous Hindi Chanting - "Om namah, Naryana"
  • Ominous Xylophone Tune - In "Omen". The music video even comes complete with a Creepy Child to play it.
  • Planet of Keiths: Once Leeroy left, this meant two out of three of the band's members were named Keith. And because two Keiths wasn't enough, Diesel Power and You'll Be Under My Wheels featured vocals from rapper, Kool Keith. [1]
  • Precision F Strike: "Fuck 'em and their law!"
  • Punny Name - "Mindfields".
  • Running Gag: A few from the Jilted Generation videos, excluding "One Love."
    • Keith getting himself into trouble (caught in a vine trap at the beginning of "Voodoo People," then having to be rescued later in the same video, getting trapped in a box with no air at the end of "No Good," and getting into a fight with Liam in "Poison")
    • Liam getting angry and hitting something (he takes a sledgehammer to a wall in "No Good," then wrestling Keith to the ground for smashing the drumkit in "Poison")
    • Maxim's eyes briefly turning to yellow cat eyes (happens in all three videos, most notably in "No Good")
  • Scary Black Man: Maxim, especially during live performances when he's yelling incoherently and growling at the audience.
  • Studio Chatter - "Poison" begins with a phone ringing and someone saying "Liam, someone on the phone for you", to which Liam replies "Fuck's sake, I'm tryna write this fuckin' tune, man".
  • Sword Fight - Sound effects used as percussion on "Breathe".
  • Tomato Surprise - the video for "Smack My Bitch Up".
  1. Kool Keith had been sampled previously on Out of Space and Smack My Bitch Up.