The ground breaking number-one single on the UK Singles Chart and The Prodigy's first big international hit that changed everything.


"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  in the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, and Norway. In 2020, British newspaper The Guardian ranked the song number eight on their list of "The 100 Greatest UK No 1 Singles".

It featured Flint's punky vocals which showcased him as the group's frontman. The songwriting credits include Kim Deal of alternative rock group the Breeders, as the looped wah-wah guitar riff in "Firestarter" was sampled from the Breeders' track "S.O.S." from the album Last Splash. The drums are sampled from a remix of the song "Devotion" of the group Ten City. The "hey" sample is from the 1984 song "Close (to the Edit)" by Art of Noise. Then-members Anne Dudley, Trevor Horn, J. J. Jeczalik, Gary Langan and Paul Morley also receive songwriting credits. The "Empirion Mix", which does not include these samples, is credited solely to Liam Howlett and Keith Flint.

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". Following Flint's death on 4 March 2019, fans used the hashtag 'Firestarter4Number1' on various social media platforms to replicate the song's success by getting it to the number one spot again. This was done out of respect for Keith Flint and to raise awareness of suicide among men. During this time the single also returned to the Billboard charts, entering number 13 on its Dance/Electronic Digital Songs Sales chart in its 16 March 2019 issue, marking the first time that this song has appeared on a Billboard dance chart. In 2020, British newspaper The Guardian ranked "Firestarter" number eight on their list of "The 100 Greatest UK No 1 Singles". In 2022, Rolling Stone ranked it number 110 on their list of "200 Greatest Dance Songs of All Time".

Liam about Firestarter

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 three days.
- Liam Howlett

Did you know facts

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’.

Related articles

| The Guardian
The 100 greatest UK No 1s: No 8, The Prodigy – Firestarter

| Kerrang!
Playing With The Prodigy To Partying With Pantera: Jim Davies Is Most Notorious Guitarist You’ve Never Heard Of

| Madness To Creation
JIM DAVIES (THE PRODIGY, PITCHSHIFTER) Converses with Mark Dean on “Headwars” and his Illustrious Career”

| Kerrang!
My Friend Keith Flint, The Voice Of A Jilted Generation

| Kerrang!
Their Law: How The Prodigy Breathed New Life Into Rock

| The Independent
Keith Flint death: The story behind 'Firestarter' – The Prodigy's first number one and their most famous song

| Kerrang!
The Prodigy Thirty years of firestarting; one must-read interview

The Prodigy: 'We don't need to reinvent ourselves'

| MusicTech magazine
Landmark Productions: The Prodigy – The Fat of the Land

The J Files: The Prodigy

| MTV Hive
Dissecting the Prodigy: 25 Samples Behind 'The Fat of the Land'

| The Guardian
The Prodigy didn't kill rave, they reanimated rock'n'roll

The Prodigy – The Stories Behind 10 Of Their Best-Loved Dancefloor Anthems To Date

| The Independent
The Prodigy and their prodigious talent

| Spin Magazine
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| Spin Magazine
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| Select
This is dangerous

| Melody Maker
Shrink Rap

Crash and Burn!

| Kerrang!
Crop Killers

Selected LP, The Fat of The Land

| Now
Prodigy jump off electronica bandwagon

| The Mix
Playing with fire!

| Melody Maker
Setting America Alight!

| PointCast
Talent: The Prodigy

| Kerrang!
Public Enemies Number One

| Future Music
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| Sound On Sound
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| Aftenposten
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| Select
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| MTV Blah Blah Blah
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See also

What Evil Lurks EP

What Evil Lurks


Charly Single



Everybody In The Place Single

Everybody In The Place


Fire Single



Experience Album



Out of Space Single

Out of Space


WInd It Up Single

WInd It Up


One Love Single

One Love


No Good (Start The Dance) Single

No Good (Start The Dance)


Music For The Jilted Generation Album

Music For The Jilted Generation


Voodoo People Single

Voodoo People


Poison Single



Breathe Single



The Fat Of The Land Album

The Fat Of The Land


Smack My Bitch Up Single

Smack My Bitch Up


Prodigy Present: The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One Compilation

Prodigy Present: The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One


The Prodigy Experience - Expanded: Remixes & B-sides Compilation

The Prodigy Experience - Expanded: Remixes & B-sides


Baby's Got A Temper EP

Baby's Got A Temper


Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned Album

Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned


Girls Single



Hotride Single



Spitfire Single



Their Law: The Singles 1990–2005 Compilation

Their Law: The Singles 1990–2005


Voodoo People / Out Of Space Single

Voodoo People / Out Of Space


Back To Mine Compilation

Back To Mine


More Music For The Jilted Generation Compilation

More Music For The Jilted Generation


Invaders Must Die Album

Invaders Must Die


Omen Single



Warrior's Dance Single

Warrior's Dance


Take Me To The Hospital Single

Take Me To The Hospital


Invaders Must Die EP EP

Invaders Must Die EP


The Added Fat EP EP

The Added Fat EP


Nasty Single



Wild Frontier Single

Wild Frontier


The Day Is My Enemy Album

The Day Is My Enemy


Ibiza Single



The Night Is My Friend EP EP

The Night Is My Friend EP


Need Some1 Single

Need Some1


No Tourists Album

No Tourists


Light Up The Sky Single

Light Up The Sky


The Fat Of The Land 25th Anniversary - Remixes EP

The Fat Of The Land 25th Anniversary - Remixes


World's on Fire Compilation

World's on Fire


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