Plus One

The 11 best songs by The Prodigy

Why have a top 10 when you can have one more? We rank the 11 greatest Prodigy tracks ahead of Reading & Leeds

Furious. Fearless. Shit-kickingly incredible live (so much so, they’re only comparable to Rage Against The Machine in terms of bashing you to bits on the dance floor and in the mosh pit), The Prodigy are, and always have been, a force to be reckoned with. 

Credited with changing the face of mainstream rave culture, The Prodigy became pioneers of the breakbeat-influenced big beat era before morphing again in the late 90s into a techno/rock l’enfant terrible industry phenomenon with their commercial juggernaut The Fat Of The Land (1997). 

Spearheaded by producer, keyboardist and songwriter Liam Howlett, The Prodigy’s original line-up also featured dancer and live keyboardist Leeroy Thornhill, dancer Sharky, and MC and vocalist Maxim. And, of course, there was Keith. No 90s teen will ever forget the impact of Keith Flint, the dancer-turned-vocalist who’s heavy eyeliner and green-haired punk aggression quite literally smashed the scene to smithereens, spitting and frothing through live performances that left audiences breathless. Equally, no 90s teen (or anyone else for that matter) can ever describe the loss felt when Flint died in 2019. Even now, it still seems so unfair that there are those that never got to see his fire burn so ferociously, and so bright.

Luckily, The Prodigy still have so much to bring fans (both new and old), in celebration of Keith and their legacy, with a main-stage slot at this year’s Reading & Leeds Festival. So grab your boiler suits and your neon whistles, this Prodigy Plus One is guaranteed to get you shuffling…

11. ‘One Love’

(Music For The Jilted Generation, 1994)

The first single to be released from The Prodigy’s second album, Music For The Jilted Generation (1994), ‘One Love’ is a straight up 90s rave banger. Filled with screwy lasers, weird vocal lines and scrunchy syths, it’s perfect for bopping your bonce off to. Pop quiz alert: it was also featured in the soundtrack for cult 90s movie Hackers

10. ‘Omen’

(Invaders Must Die, 2009)

Shouty enough to bag a Kerrang! Award for Best Single, ‘Omen’ was co-produced by Does It Offend You, Yeah? singer James Rushent and was the first single to be released from The Prodigy’s fifth studio album Invaders Must Die. Featuring creepy xylophones and a break-shit bassline, it’s a live fan favourite. 

9. ‘Voodoo People’

(Music For The Jilted Generation, 1994)

Was there a genre called psych-techno before ‘Voodoo People’? Probably not. But hey, The Prodigy took traditional genres in their jaws and shook them like a spoiled terrier. With its car chase beat and fuzzy sirens, ‘Voodoo People’ sounds like a paranoid laceration. And three decades on, it’s still super fun to dance to.

8. ‘Your Love’

(Experience, 1992)

Oof, a rave banger with a plinky piano intro – it really doesn’t get much better than ‘Your Love’. A lower tempo single than some of their better known belters, ‘One Love’ is the fourth song on debut album Experience (1992), and its rave-by-numbers stylings (wavy synths, sirens, and ‘woohoos’) just harken back to the days of partying in shitty warehouses while telling strangers from Rotherham just how much you love them. Super stuff.

7. ‘Breathe’

(The Fat Of The Land, 1997)

Featuring a drum break from ‘Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed’ by Thin Lizzy and a sample of ‘Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’ by Wu-Tang Clan, ‘Breathe’ was the second single to be released from The Fat Of The Land, and boy, isn’t it just a stone cold gut-punch of a song. With Kieth snapping and snarling on lead vocals while the beat grinds and thwacks, ‘Breathe’ turns every laser-lit dance floor into an impending zombie apocalypse. You’d better start running for your life. 

6. ‘Everybody In The Place’

(Experience, 1992)

The second official single released from Experience (1992), ‘Everybody In The Place’ sounds like a deranged fairground ride, but hell yeah, scream if you want to go faster kids. Even if you’ve never had your mind bent by substances in a field, three rounds of this track back to back will make you believe you have. Frantic. F*cking mental. Great fun.

5. ‘Charly’

(Experience, 1992)

The Prodigy’s debut single is still arguably one of their most important tracks, simply because no one had heard anything quite like it at the time. Sampling the 70s BBC Public Information Film, Charley Says, ‘Charly’ was like a precursor to what was on the horizon for rave culture; a warning perhaps for the parents about to lose their vagrant teens to illegal all-nighters happening across the UK. Either way, ‘Charly’ still sounds as fresh and clever as it did over 30 years ago.

4. ‘Smack My Bitch Up’

(The Fat Of The Land, 1997)

Once voted the most controversial song of all time in a survey conducted by PRS for Music (lol), everyone old enough remembers exactly where they were when they first saw the video for ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ (how much did you want that ant tattoo?). Despite stating that the lyrics had nothing at all to do with misogyny or domestic abuse, The Prodigy got a lot of backlash for ‘Smack My Bitch Up’, the third and final single to be released from The Fat Of The Land. The Beastie Boys asked them not to perform it at Reading 98 (this writer was there and remembers Maxim telling the crowd: “I do what the f*ck I want” before launching into it…), TV stations started boycotting the video, radio stations wouldn’t play the track and all hell broke loose. Yet… What. A. Track. It’s brilliant. Play it loud. Break something non-valuable.

3. ‘No Good (Start The Dance)’

(Music For The Jilted Generation, 1994)

Featuring a sped up vocal sample of Kelly Charles’ house track ‘You’re No Good For Me’ (1987), ‘No Good (Start The Dance)’ is this writer’s favourite ‘Prodge song by a country mile. Why? Because it takes her back to dancing around her childhood bedroom like a lunatic, too young to be indoctrinated fully into the rave scene, but old enough to know that this track was blowing her mind. Frenzied yet in complete control, the way this barnstormer weaves in and out of its thrusting beat while that ear-worm vocal writhes like a neon creature in your melon – incredible.

2. ‘Firestarter’

(The Fat Of The Land, 1997)

The track that delivered Flint’s very first vocal performance, ‘Firestarter’ was a bona fide cultural phenomenon. It was terrifying and dazzling all at the same time, with Keith’s punk swagger becoming synonymous with the spaces in between the metal, techno and breakbeat scenes. The vocal was aggressive, the beat like a high-speed car crash. Twisted, tortured, ‘Firestarter’ came, conquered, flipped everyone off and then mic-dropped out, leaving no prisoners in its wake. ‘Firestarter’ changed everything. And The Prodigy became legends because of it. 

1. ‘Out Of Space’

(Experience, 1992)

What was Howlett thinking when he added that ‘boing’ to Max Romeo’s vocal line from the 1976 song ‘Chase The Devil’? Did he sit up and shout across the studio: ‘that boing is going to deliver us to the rave gods!’ Who knows. But that ‘boing’, that sample, both come together in ‘Out Of Space’ to create one of the greatest and most-played dance tracks of all time. Baggy with a spiky synth, it’s a slice of pure rave nostalgia that has everyone reaching for the lasers. Plus, the video features Keith sniffing Vick’s VapoRub. An anthem for ageing rave dads the UK over, ‘Out Of Space’ is the deserved winner of this illustrious Plus One. Now listen to this playlist (see below), VERY loud.

The Prodigy play Reading & Leeds festival 2024 this August. Find tickets here