Smack My Bitch Up

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"Smack My Bitch Up"
Smack My Bitch Up.jpg
Single by the Prodigy
from the album The Fat of the Land
Released17 November 1997 (1997-11-17)[1]
Genre
Length
  • 4:45 (edit)
  • 5:43 (album version)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Liam Howlett
The Prodigy singles chronology
"Breathe"
(1996)
"Smack My Bitch Up"
(1997)
"Baby's Got a Temper"
(2002)
Music video
Smack My Bitch Up (DVD edit) on Vimeo

"Smack My Bitch Up" is a song by English rave group the Prodigy. It was released in November 1997 as the third and final single from the album The Fat of the Land. Mixmag readers voted it the third greatest dance track of all time.[4]

The song caused considerable controversy because of its suggestive title and explicit music video, which depicted scenes of drunken and drug-fuelled sexual excess and violence. The refrain, which consists only of the line "Change my pitch up / Smack my bitch up", was sampled from the song "Give the Drummer Some" by the Ultramagnetic MCs. In 2010, the song was voted as the most controversial of all-time in a survey conducted by PRS for Music.[5]

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 an issue of Muzik magazine, while the Slacker remix was never officially released, although it surfaced on a rare and limited set of white labels.

Composition[edit]

The lyrics "Change my pitch up / Smack my bitch up" are repeated through the whole song. 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".[6] 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.[7][unreliable source?]

Music video[edit]

Director Jonas Åkerlund's music video for "Smack My Bitch Up" was rarely seen on television due to its controversial subject matter. The video, filmed entirely in first-person perspective, depicts a drug-and-alcohol-fueled night out through the eyes of a mostly-unseen character. This character first showers and dresses, then drinks vodka and sniffs cocaine before going out. At a bar, the protagonist has several more drinks, sexually assaults multiple women, violently attacks several men, and destroys the DJ's equipment before running to the restroom to vomit and inject intravenous drugs. Later, at a strip club, the protagonist drinks more alcohol while watching nude dancers, and eventually brings one stripper home to have sex. Finally, after they have sex, a look in the mirror reveals the protagonist to have been a young, blonde woman; as the song ends, she passes out on her bed.

Liam Howlett noted:

"There's a realness to that video. Most people have had nights out like that, off their head on coke and drink… It's not to everyone's taste, but not everything we do is. No radio station was gonna play the song, so we thought we'd make a video that no one would play either."[8]

Controversy[edit]

Lyrical controversy[edit]

The song's lyrics, often held as misogynistic, were defended by the band, saying that the lyrics were being misinterpreted and the song actually meant "...doing anything intensely..."[9]

"Smack My Bitch Up" was banned by the BBC and only a lyric-free version was played on BBC 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."

ITV Chart Show refused to display the name of the song when the video was played during one of their episodes. Usually aired at 11.30 am, the show displayed the on-screen graphic as simply "The Prodigy"; the title of the song would usually appear underneath. This also meant they avoided playing a part of the song that used the offending lyric when playing the customary music video clip.

It received daytime airplay on London indie station XFM and reached number one in their Top 30 chart.[10]

Video[edit]

Screenshot from the video showing first-person heroin use by the protagonist.[11]

MTV initially restricted the video to late-night rotation, starting with a midnight debut on 120 Minutes on 7 December 1997.[12] The video garnered controversy for depiction of driving under the influence, drug use, violence (including street fighting and a hit-and-run incident), vandalism, nudity, and sex, and also drew criticism for misogyny, particularly from feminist groups such as the US National Organization for Women (NOW), accusing it of encouraging violence against women.[13][14][15] On 22 December, MTV removed the video from rotation; a statement was posted on the network's official website the same day, which stated that protests from feminist organizations had nothing to do with the decision.[13] Despite the controversy, the video was nominated for four awards in the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, and eventually won Best Dance Video and Breakthrough Video. In 2002, MTV2 played the full unedited version as part of its special Most Controversial Videos.[16]

In other media[edit]

In 2012, a parody video, by the now defunct Youtube channel TheCube95, went viral.[17] The video featured a cat exhibiting similar reckless behavior to that of the woman in the original music video. In 2020, the game Cyberpunk 2077 featured a scene where the main character, V, in the "Chipin' In" main quest, goes to clubs, get tattoos, do drugs and drink alcohol while being controlled by the character of Johnny Silverhand. The cutscene is in first-person perspective (just like most of the game) and has a corresponding song on the soundtrack titled "Smack My Chip Up", a clear reference to "Smack My Bitch Up". Released the same year, Assassin's Creed Valhalla includes a sidequest called "The Prodigy", where the player character boxes a clergyman, prompting a character named Keith to sing, "Smack my bishop!"[18]

Track listing[edit]

XL Recordings[edit]

12-inch 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" – 4:34

CD single[edit]

  1. "Smack My Bitch Up" (edit) – 4:45
  2. "No Man Army" – 4:44
  3. "Mindfields" (Headrock dub) – 4:34
  4. "Smack My Bitch Up" (DJ Hype remix) – 7:17

Maverick Records[edit]

12-inch 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-inch vinyl record[edit]

A1. "Smack My Bitch Up" (LP version) – 5:42
A2. "No Man Army" (featuring Tom Morello) – 4:44
B1. "Mindfields" – 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.

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 No. 22, in Australia reaching No. 41,[19] and in the United States reaching No. 89.[20] The single also returned to the Billboard charts after Flint's death, entering number 23 on its Dance/Electronic Digital Songs Sales chart in its 16 March 2019 issue.[21]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1997–2019) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[22] 41
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[23] 7
Canada (Nielsen SoundScan)[24] 12
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[25] 20
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[26] 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[27] 51
Hungary (Mahasz)[28] 5
Ireland (IRMA)[29] 6
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[30] 19
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[31] 22
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[32] 8
Norway (VG-lista)[33] 8
Scotland (OCC)[34] 9
Spain (AFYVE)[35] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[36] 13
UK Singles (OCC)[37] 8
UK Dance (OCC)[38] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[39] 89
US Dance/Electronic Digital Songs (Billboard)[40] 23

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[41] Gold 5,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Gold 400,000double-dagger

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. 15 November 1997. p. 29. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  2. ^ "The Prodigy, "Smack My Bitch Up" SPIN". Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  3. ^ "This Is Techno, Vol. 3 - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  4. ^ "What is the Greatest Dance Track of All Time?". Mixmag. 15 February 2013. Archived from the original on 8 March 2015.
  5. ^ "Smack My Bitch Up voted most controversial pop song". Mirror.co.uk. 24 November 2010. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018.
  6. ^ Darby, Derrick; Shelby, Tommie; Irwin, William (21 August 2013). Hip-Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason. Open Court. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-8126-9779-7.
  7. ^ jimpavloff (15 December 2009). "Making of "The Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up" in Ableton by Jim Pavloff" – via YouTube.
  8. ^ Elliott, Paul (February 1998). "Their year: The Prodigy". Q. No. 137. p. 95.
  9. ^ "Major Lazer Remix The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up"". The FADER. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  10. ^ https://www.ukmix.org/forum/chart-discussion/chart-analysis/109628-xfm-charts-1997-2006[bare URL]
  11. ^ December 7, Joe RobinsonPublished; 2012. "The Prodigy, 'Smack My Bitch Up' – Banned Music Videos". Diffuser.fm. Retrieved 5 April 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Prodigy Video To Air On MTV As Controversy Continues". MTV News. 4 December 1997. Archived from the original on 22 August 2001. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  13. ^ a b MTV News Staff (22 December 1997). "MTV Explains Decision To Pull Prodigy". MTV News. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  14. ^ "'Bitch' banned from MTV". Yahoo Music. 23 December 1997. Archived from the original on 29 August 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Metropolis -- Weekly Online City Guide -- Free forever!!".
  16. ^ "MTV's Most Controversial Videos". MTV. Archived from the original on 14 August 2003.
  17. ^ "'Smack My Bitch Up' Cat Gets Into Trouble In Darkly Funny Prodigy Parody (NSFW VIDEO)". huffpost.com. 4 December 2012.
  18. ^ Phillips, Tom (16 November 2020). "There's a brilliant Keith Flint tribute in Assassin's Creed Valhalla". Eurogamer. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  19. ^ Hung, Steffen. "australian-charts.com - The Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up".
  20. ^ US and Canadian Charts - Allmusic.com
  21. ^ "The Prodigy Return to Billboard's Charts After Keith Flint's Death" from Billboard (13 March 2019)
  22. ^ "Australian-charts.com – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  23. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  24. ^ "The Prodigy Chart History (Canadian Digital Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  25. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 14 no. 49. 6 December 1997. p. 12. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  26. ^ "The Prodigy: Smack My Bitch Up" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  27. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  28. ^ "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 14 no. 50. 13 December 1997. p. 19. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  29. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Smack My Bitch Up". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  30. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 50, 1997" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  31. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  32. ^ "Charts.nz – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  33. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". VG-lista. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  34. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  35. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  36. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  37. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  38. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  39. ^ "The Prodigy Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  40. ^ "2019 Archive: Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales (March 16, 2019)". Billboard. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  41. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  42. ^ "British single certifications – Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 30 June 2021.