Monday, March 18, 1996

The Prodigy “Firestarter” released


The Prodigy

Writer(s): Liam Howlett, Keith Flint, Kim Deal, Anne Dudley, Trevor Horn, J.J. Jeczalik, Gary Langan, Paul Morley (see lyrics here)

Released: March 18, 1996

First Charted: March 30, 1996

Peak: 30 US, 24 MR, 13 UK, 3 CN, 22 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.85 UK, 1.35 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 141.0 video, 77.04 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Prodigy formed in 1990. Fronted by keyboardist and songwriter Liam Howlett, the group also included MC/singer Maxim and singer/dancer Keith Flint. They are considered – along with the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim – to be pioneers of the backbeat-influenced genre big beat. The group has gone on to sell over 20 million records worldwide – “a feat that remains unparalleled in dance music history.” XFM

“Firestarter” was the lead single from their third album The Fat of the Land. It became their first UK chart topper was also the group’s first song to feature Flint on vocals. Howlett wrote it as an instrumental originally and then Flint, just a dancer with the band at the time, said he’d like to add some vocals, reportedly saying, “If I’m ever going to do any lyrics, I’m going to do it on this tune.” SF It was their only top-40 hit in the United States. After Flint’s suicide in 2019, the song reached #13 on Billboard magazine’s dance/electronic digital songs sales chart in the U.S. The follow-up single, “Breathe,” was also a #1 hit in the UK.

Upon the single’s release, British magazine Music Week called the song a “powerful return for the kings of live techno.” WK RM magazine’s Brad Beatnik described it as “a typically searing chunk of heavy techno featuring some manie vocale and an awesome synth line.” WK Gerald Martinez referred to in New Sunday Times as “heavy metal meets techno-dance stylisations.” WK

Kim Deal received a songwriting credit because of “the looped wah-wah guitar” WK in “Firestarter” that was sampled from “S.O.S.,” a song of hers with the Breeders. Anne Dudley, Trevor Horn, J.J. Jeczalik, Gary Langan, and Paul Morley also were credited because of the “hey hey hey” sample from their song “Close (To the Edit)” by Art of Noise. SF

The song generated controversy in the UK where it was accused by the national fire service of promoting arson, XFM although Flint told Melody Maker the “rave rock anthem has nothing to do with literally starting fires by about performing in front of 5,000 people and stirring them up into a frenzy.” SF Flint’s enancing look in the video was also criticized by tabloids as frightening young children. SF


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First posted 10/26/2021.

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