Smack My Bitch Up

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"Smack My Bitch Up"
Single by The Prodigy
from the album The Fat of the Land
Released 24 November 1997
Format 12 inch vinyl record
CD single
Recorded Essex, England, United Kingdom
Genre Big beat, rave, electronica
Length 4:45 (Edit)
Label XL Recordings
Maverick Records (USA)
Sony Music Entertainment (Australia)
Writer(s) Liam Howlett
Producer(s) Liam Howlett
The Prodigy singles chronology
"Breathe"
(1996)
"Smack My Bitch Up"
(1997)
"Baby's Got a Temper"
(2002)

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"Smack My Bitch Up" is a song by British big beat group the Prodigy. It was released in November 1997 as the third and final single from the album The Fat of the Land. Prior to the release of the single, Liam Howlett was presented with three remixes of the title song, one by Jonny L, one by DJ Hype and one by Slacker. Howlett chose the DJ Hype remix to be released on the single. The Jonny L remix was released through a free CD that came along with the January issue of Muzik magazine in 1998, while the Slacker remix was never officially released, although it surfaced on a rare and limited set of white labels. "Smack My Bitch Up" sold over 100,000 copies in the UK in 1997.[1]

The song caused considerable controversy because of its allegedly misogynistic title and its video, which depicted scenes of drunken and drug-fuelled sexual excess and violence.

Content[edit]

The lyrics "Change my pitch up / Smack my bitch up" are repeated through the whole song. The band defended the song, saying that the lyrics were being misinterpreted as misogynistic and the song actually meant "...doing anything intensely..."[2] The song led to a publicised disagreement at the 1998 Reading festival after the Beastie Boys asked the group not to play the track.[3][4] The vocals are sampled and altered from the Ultramagnetic MCs song "Give the Drummer Some". The original lyrics, performed by rapper Kool Keith, are: "Switch up change my pitch up" / "Smack my bitch up, like a pimp,...". Kool Keith had previously been sampled by the Prodigy in the track "Out of Space". The female vocals in "Smack My Bitch Up" were performed by Shahin Badar. Badar's vocals and harmonies are based on "Nana (The Dreaming)" performed by Sheila Chandra. Initially Liam Howlett used a direct sample of Chandra's song, but later had the vocal resung after sample clearance issues. The track also contains samples from "Funky Man" by Kool & the Gang, "In Memory Of" by Randy Weston, "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine and "House of Rising Funk" by Afrique.[5][unreliable source?]

Music video[edit]

The promotional music video for "Smack My Bitch Up", directed by Swedish music video director Jonas Åkerlund depicts a night out in London filmed from a first-person perspective, portraying drinking and driving, snorting cocaine, violence, vomiting, vandalism, nudity and sex. The unedited version also includes a scene of heroin use, a hit and run incident, fights with men, abuse of women, and a full sex scene. The protagonist takes a stripper (played by model Teresa May) home and has sex with her. As the stripper leaves with her things, the protagonist glances in the mirror, is revealed to be a woman, and collapses on the bed.

Controversy[edit]

"Smack My Bitch Up" was banned by the BBC and only a lyric-free version was played on Radio 1. On the chart rundown, other tracks from the single release were played, and the title "Smack My Bitch Up" was not mentioned. On BBC World Service radio chart run down it was mentioned as "Smack" and was not played. Yet on the first episode of Top of the Pops in which it charted, the DJ Hype remix was played over the Top 10 countdown, including the offending lyric of "Change my pitch up, smack my bitch up."

The Chart Show refused to display the name of the song when the video was played during one of their episodes. Usually aired at 11.30am, the show displayed the on-screen graphic as simply "The Prodigy"; the title of the song would usually appear underneath.

The music video for "Smack My Bitch Up" drew fierce criticism for misogyny, particularly from feminist groups such as the US National Organization for Women, accusing it of encouraging violence against women, despite the main protagonist being a woman. Others, however, praised the video because of the way it subverted stereotypes of domestic violence, showing that women are also abusers.[6] Though banned from television in the US and UK, massive demands on MTV eventually had them relent and show the video, but only after midnight and following an MTV News warning. In mid-2002, the full unedited version of this video was aired on MTV2 as part of a special countdown showing the most controversial videos ever to air on MTV. This countdown was only shown late at night because of the graphic imagery of "Smack My Bitch Up" and several other videos on the countdown, such as the video for Nine Inch Nails' "Closer". This video was at #1 on the countdown and therefore named the "Most Controversial Video" in MTV's history[citation needed]. Programming blocks in the United States containing the unedited video for "Smack My Bitch Up" automatically gained a rating of TV-MA-LSV (sometimes TV-M-DLSV).

Despite the controversy, the video would be nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards, and eventually won Best Dance Video and Breakthrough Video. Eight years later, the full version of the video was aired and voted #1 on New Zealand television show 'U Choose 40', screened on music channel C4 as part of their 'Most Shocking Videos' and 'Top 10 - That's Shocking!' (June 10, 2007) countdowns and voted #2 as part of the 'Banned In The USA!' countdown on August 24, 2007.

In 2010, the song was voted as the most controversial song of all time in a survey conducted by PRS for Music.[7]

Chart performance[edit]

The song reached the top 15 in several countries, for example Canada, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. The song performed best in Finland, securing The Prodigy their third Finnish number-one hit alongside Firestarter and Breathe. Although not reaching the top 20 in those countries, "Smack My Bitch Up" was a hit in the Netherlands peaking at #22, in Australia reaching #41,[8] and in the United States reaching #89.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Japanese professional wrestler, Yoshihiro Tajiri used the song as his entrance theme in ECW in 1998.
  • In the British TV series comedy, The Vicar of Dibley, the song is referenced by Geraldine, stating that the same way songs from the 1960s and 1970s bring nostalgic feelings to Generation X, "Smack My Bitch Up" will be remembered by teenagers today.
  • In the British comedy sketch show Harry Enfield and Chums, the character Perry played by Kathy Burke arrives at Kevin's house and mistakenly sings Smack My Bitch Up to his parents while they're grieving over the death of a family member.
  • Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine covered this song on his 2000 album Lounge Against the Machine. This is the song where he introduces the whole band.
  • The song is featured in an episode of Top Gear. It was used as the background music for the review of the Porsche Carrera GT.
  • The song appears in the 2000 film Charlie's Angels, however the song is not on the film's soundtrack album.
  • It also appears in the 2001 film Scary Movie 2, in the scene that spoofs the Charlie's Angels scene that uses this song.
  • The song is used in a pay-per-view spot for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.
  • The song is used in the Mike Nichols film Closer and the first episode of the BBC Three series Being Human. However, it is not included on the DVD release due to copyright issues.
  • The song appears in "Chuck Versus the Cougars" (Season 2, Episode 4) of the TV series Chuck during the fight scene between Sarah Walker and her high school nemesis, Heather Chandler.
  • English drum and bass artist Nick Douwma (better known as Sub Focus) has produced an effective remix of "Smack My Bitch Up". The track was released in 2005 as part of the "Voodoo People (Pendulum Remix)" / "Out of Space" single.
  • In the American comedy TV series Will & Grace, Karen Walker states that "Smack My Bitch Up" is the traditional song to walk down the aisle on at a person's fifth wedding.
  • In the British supernatural drama TV series Being Human, the song is played during the series one episode 'Flotsam and Jetsam' as George transforms into a werewolf inside the trio's flat.
  • In the British comedy TV series Misfits, Nathan plays this on his iPod while fighting Rachel in Episode 6 of Season 1.
  • Dutch electronic music trio Noisia and Diplo's musical project Major Lazer both produced remixes of the song for the Fat of the Land deluxe edition reissue EP, The Added Fat.
  • In the American comedy TV series Anger Management, the song is referenced as being the character Patrick's cell phone ring tone.
  • The song plays during Mac's fight with the Yakuza in "The Gang Saves the Day", the 6th episode of the ninth season of American comedy series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • In the children's show The Amazing World of Gumball, on the episode 'The Ghost', several first person rampage scenes are based upon the music video.
  • The music video for "You Should Consider Having Sex With a Bearded Man" by Australian band The Beards is a homage to the "Smack My Bitch Up" video, featuring a similar first person rampage.

Track listing[edit]

XL Recordings[edit]

12" vinyl record[edit]

  1. "Smack My Bitch Up" (LP version) – 5:42
  2. "No Man Army" (Featuring Tom Morello) – 4:44
  3. "Smack My Bitch Up" (DJ Hype remix) – 7:17
  4. "Mindfields" (Headrock dub) – 4:34

CD single[edit]

  1. "Smack My Bitch Up" (Edit) – 4:45
  2. "No Man Army" (Featuring Tom Morello) – 4:44
  3. "Mindfields" (Headrock Dub) – 4:34
  4. "Smack My Bitch Up" (DJ Hype Remix) – 7:17

Maverick Records[edit]

12" vinyl record "Black sleeve"[edit]

A1. "Smack My Bitch Up" (Album Version) – 5:43
A2. "Mindfields" (Headrock Dub) – 4:35
B1. "Smack My Bitch Up" (DJ Hype Remix) – 7:17

12" vinyl record[edit]

A1. "Smack My Bitch Up" (LP Version) – 5:42
A2. "No Man Army" (Featuring Tom Morello) – 4:44
B1. "Mindfields" (Headrock Dub) – 4:34
B2. "Smack My Bitch Up" (DJ Hype Remix) – 7:17

Digipak[edit]

  1. "Smack My Bitch Up" (Edit) – 4:45
  2. "No Man Army" (Featuring Tom Morello) – 4:44
  3. "Mindfields" (Headrock Dub) – 4:34
  4. "Smack My Bitch Up" (DJ Hype Remix) – 7:17

The digipak was released in cooperation with Sire.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[10] 41
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[11] 1
Germany (Media Control Charts)[12] 51
Ireland (IRMA)[13] 6
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[14] 19
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[15] 8
Norway (VG-lista)[16] 8
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[17] 13
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[18] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 89

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ fatherandy2.com
  2. ^ Rock On The Net: Prodigy
  3. ^ Claustrophobic PRODIGY Page - Facts - The Reading Incident
  4. ^ Rock On The Net: The Beastie Boys
  5. ^ YouTube - Making Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" in Ableton Live 8
  6. ^ Metropolis Magazine Back Issue #409
  7. ^ http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/music/2010/11/24/smack-my-bitch-up-voted-most-controversial-pop-song-115875-22736076/ 24 November 2010 - Mirror UK - Smack my Bitch Up Voted Most Controversial Song
  8. ^ International Charts- australian-charts.com
  9. ^ US and Canadian Charts - Allmusic.com
  10. ^ "Australian-charts.com – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  11. ^ "The Prodigy: Smack My Bitch Up" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  12. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  13. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to Know" (enter search parameter The Prodigy into Search by Artist box, then select Go). Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 50, 1997" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  15. ^ "Charts.org.nz – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  16. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". VG-lista. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  17. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". Singles Top 60. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  18. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  19. ^ "The Prodigy Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for The Prodigy. Retrieved July 28, 2012.