Calling all firestarters

  • 2006-04-12
  • By Elizabeth Celms

SMACK ME UP: The Prodigy's most controversial song, 'Smack My Bitch Up,' has occassioned parodies involving Bill Clinton and the kids from 'South Park.'

RIGA/TALLIN - Seeing as I hadn't heard The Prodigy's latest album "Their Law," I dutifully downloaded some track demos, prepared a cup of Chamomile tea and cozied up before my computer screen to get acquainted. I lasted 10 seconds. The moment I pushed 'play,' my vital organs were jolted by what I can only describe as an artillery of sound.

Since I couldn't bring myself to listen beyond the opening track (In my defense, there was scalding Chamomile tea across my lap), I'm probably not the best person to go on about the British hard dance/rave band. But then from an empirical point of view, my experience most likely further vindicates the CD's popularity among fans. After all, I drink Chamomile tea.
To get to the point, The Prodigy is not for me. In fact, I'd even go so far to say it's my musical hell. But I know there are a hell of a lot of raving hell-raisers out there who feel otherwise. And on May 4 and 5, Riga's Kipsala Hall and Tallinn's Saku Arena will be full of them.
Next month will be The Prodigy's debut visit in the Baltics. And judging by the number of times "Firestarter" still plays in Riga clubs 's and the number of teenagers who start throwing their bodies around at the cue - the concert will most likely sell out.
For the less musically prodigious, such as myself, a brief summary of the band might be helpful: Born in the U.K. in 1990, The Prodigy have been described as "a rock band that plays dance music." Others see them more as a rave band. Whatever the genre, the British group were met with startling success almost from the get go.

When the group first emerged in Britain's underground rave scene it consisted of Liam Howlett on keyboards, dancervocalist Keith Flint, MC/vocalist Maxim and dancer Leeroy Thornhill, who later left the band in 2000. It wasn't long before the members reached international popularity with their hit songs "Charly," "Out of Space," "Firestarter," and the lyrically controversial "Smack My Bitch Up."
The latter caused an uproar in the United States when the National Organization for Women angrily declared that the song's lyrics, "Change my pitch up, smack my bitch up" were "a dangerous and offensive message advocating violence against women." In defense, Howlett took poetic liberty in explaining that the song's lyrics were being misinterpreted. The intended message of the offensive line, he said, was "doing anything intensely, like being on stage - going for extreme manic energy."
Whatever the truth behind The Prodigy's cryptic lyrics, they continually appeal to different crowds. If anything, the mass popularity of their most recent album, "Their Law: the Singles 1990-2005," has proven this very point.
Flicking through the tracks, it is clear that The Prodigy has evolved with time. Initially a psychedelic rave band, the group later blended into mainstream dance with "No Good," and then jumped to rock, followed by punk, after which came a few experimental years in metal, on to whatever they are today.

The band has yet to break into the genre of pop, classical and folk, but they've still got a good many years ahead. And when you're as prodigious as Prodigy, anything is possible.

The Prodigy
May 4, Riga 's Kipsala Hall, 21:00
May 5, Tallinn 's Saku Arena, 21:00