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
Recorded Essex, England, United Kingdom
Length 4:45 (edit)
Label
Writer(s) Liam Howlett
Producer(s) Liam Howlett
The Prodigy singles chronology
"Serial Thrilla"
(1997)
"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. The song was voted by Mixmag readers as the third greatest dance record of all time.[1] Although the song wasn't as big a commercial success as their previous singles, it gained a cult following.

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.

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.

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,..."[5] 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.[6][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.[7] 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.

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.[8] 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".[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).[citation needed]

Despite the controversy, the video was 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.[9]

Lyrical 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.

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.

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,[10] and in the United States reaching #89.[11]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[12] 41
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[13] 7
Canada (Nielsen SoundScan)[14] 12
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[15] 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[16] 51
Ireland (IRMA)[17] 6
Italy (FIMI)[18] 16
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[19] 19
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[20] 8
Norway (VG-lista)[21] 8
Spain (AFYVE)[22] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[23] 13
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[24] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[25] 89

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ What is the Greatest Dance Track of All Time? Mixmag (15 February 2013)
  2. ^ Rock On The Net: Prodigy
  3. ^ Claustrophobic PRODIGY Page - Facts - The Reading Incident
  4. ^ Rock On The Net: The Beastie Boys
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ YouTube - Making Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" in Ableton Live 8
  7. ^ Giffney, Ms Noreen; O'Rourke, Mr Michael (28 December 2012). The Ashgate Research Companion to Queer Theory. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 435. ISBN 978-1-4094-9206-1. 
  8. ^ Metropolis Magazine Back Issue #409
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ International Charts- australian-charts.com
  11. ^ US and Canadian Charts - Allmusic.com
  12. ^ "Australian-charts.com – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  13. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  14. ^ The Prodigy | Awards | Allmusic Allmusic.com
  15. ^ "The Prodigy: Smack My Bitch Up" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  16. ^ "Musicline.de – The Prodigy Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  17. ^ "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. 
  18. ^ "Hit Parade Italia – Indice per Interprete: P". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 50, 1997" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  20. ^ "Charts.org.nz – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  21. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". VG-lista. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  22. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  23. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up". Singles Top 60. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  24. ^ "Archive Chart: 1997-11-29" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  25. ^ "The Prodigy Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for The Prodigy. Retrieved July 28, 2012.