The ground breaking number-one single on the UK Singles Chart and The Prodigy's first big international hit that changed everyting.
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"Firestarter" was the first single from their third album The Fat of the Land, released on 18 March 1996. It was also their tenth single and the group's first number-one single on the UK Singles Chart, staying on top for three weeks, and their first big international hit, also reaching number one in Finland and Norway. It featured Flint's punky vocals which showcased him as the group's frontman. The title and lyrics were subject of controversy in the UK because of their violent nature. The music video further boosted these controversies.
In October 2011, NME placed it at number 52 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years". Writing for pitchfork.com in 2005, Jess Harvell said, ""Firestarter" sounds like Trent Reznor in one of his all-too-rare moments of self-aware humor, like the Bomb Squad at +5 with a pink-haired British bulldog bellowing about how tuff he is."
I was listening to the Foo Fighters album and I think it's track #7, "Weenie Beenie," the punk track on the album. This is on the first album not the second one. I listened to it and I don't know where I was. I think it was either Macao or something like that. I had the album on and I was listening to it. And I was thinking it was a good track. The track is not a ground breaking track. It's just a good, solid rock track and I had that in my head. I don't know. I went into the studio to get something that had a similar type of energy. It wasn't like I want to write something like that because the two tracks are so different anyway.
I just basically laid the drums down first and tried to get the drums sounding really live and really big and basically getting the drum sound sounding as real as it could. And not too mechanical. With a good groove and stuff. Basically laid the drums down, laid the bass down. Then I think [singer/dancer] Keith [Flint] came 'round after that and he listened to the track. And basically we said this is an instrumental for the album. It's gonna be like an instrumental track, whatever. And he said to me, "Yeah, I really like that. I'd like to put some vocals on it. Can we have some vocals on it?" We were sitting there. "You want to do vocals?" And he was like "Yeah, yeah, I want to try and express myself on this track. " And it was like, well, fuck it, let's have a go at it.
Basically he wrote about five
lines and then just kept repeating it over and over
again on the mic. Then we both decided it worked.
He went away. And that night I basically brought out
lots more guitar sounds I had recorded before and
basically laid them on the track and everything seemed
to come together really quickly. And by the next day
I finished the instrumental. And Keith came back around
and we laid the vocals down and it was done in about
- Liam Howlett
When firestarter was released, all of the Prodigy's previous singles went back into the top 75!
In October 2011, NME placed it at number 52 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".
The song was also featured in the London Summer Olympic opening ceremony of 2012 representing music of the 1990s.
Many artists have covered ‘Firestarter’ including KISS co-founder/bassist Gene Simmons, who included a version on his 2004 second solo album, the appropriately titled ‘Asshole’.