Prodigy – Firestarter [Without Music]

The Fat of the Land
Year :
Moby / Skrillex / The Chemical Brothers

Watch the official video for Firestarter.

When The Prodigy seemingly burst out of nowhere in 1997, the music press was ready to usher in a new wave of electronic music. For a brief moment, the dual-mohawk-sporting British outfit, along with cohorts Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, and a slew of also-rans (big shout out to Low Fidelity Allstars), seemed poised to supplant the post-grunge-pre-hardcore-one-hit-wonder-phase. And then, in the blink of an eye, it was all gone. This was not the next grunge.

I’ve written elsewhere on the subject, but it bears repeating that we seem to be living through a particularly odd 90s nostalgia trip in popular culture. That The Prodigy’s video for breakout hit “Firestarter” recently reemerged from the cultural scrapheap earlier this week surely must be more evidence of such.

Encountering the song again for the first time in more than a decade (this time with all music completely removed) reminded me of both how utterly weird it was to make music for a large audience in the days before the internet and also how, no matter how hard the market wants to force a certain kind of hard electronic music into wide acceptance, it never quite breaks through. When was the last time anyone mentioned Skrillex?

The 90s revival my generation has pined for is happening, but it’s through the lens of the late-internet. We’re seeing entire cultural memes recycled, their trajectories compressed and played out in a matter of months rather than years. The dominance of EDM already now feels completely wrongheaded and silly. Radio rap, as a boundary-pushing artform, seems solidly in its death throws (i.e., Nickleback phase). Un-fussed-with rock music is almost a complete anomaly, a tradition carried on by a few stalwarts (e.g., Queens of the Stone Age, Dinosaur Jr.) who’ve themselves been around long enough to be part of the first wave. Portlandia is basically Kids In the Hall–plus it’s explicitly aware of its own nostalgia.

People often joke about what it would be like if Jesus came back today. Would we recognize him? Would we hear his message of universal love and peace? I feel exactly this way about Nirvana.

So, what of “Firestarter,” then? I’ve chosen to use the recently surfaced version with no music as today’s selection (you can hear the original here). It seems like another perfect symbol for our decidedly lame 90s revival. The 90s are back–but something is definitely missing.

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(@YahSureMan) is the Founder of The Daily Soundtrack and Bark Attack Media. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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