Liam Howlett’s recent claim that the dance giants should be considered as important as the Britpop icons is definitely a big claim, there’s no doubt about it. Without a doubt the two most important bands in the whole Britpop era with an endless back catalogue of tunes that have shaped, defined and influenced a generation.
But where do The Prodigy actually rank in the discussions of the most important bands in the last few decades?
Oddly, for a group that have had so many number 1 hits, tracks like “Firestarter” that has been without a doubt heard by just about everyone on the face of the earth. They appear to go relatively unspoken of when discussions of these iconic bands ensue.
As well as being one of the few artists of their kind to have stood the test of time. One would have to go some distance in finding a group that has brought dance music to such a colossal spectrum of people on the sort of levels and platforms that they have. How many other dance acts have had four consecutive number one albums in the UK?
It’s near impossible to fault their 20+ year career. They’ve experimented, pushed boundaries, not once allowing themselves to become stale. incorporating endless styles of dance music into their work. They recently criticised the current dance music scene in an interview with The Guardian, stating “Producers are too safe, they rely on being retro. It’s fucking bollocks. There’s no pushing forward anymore.”
Is it this stigma of a lot of modern dance music being recyclable that blinds us from seeing just how important The Prodigy were in the 90s and still are now? It shouldn’t be, it would be unfair to put them even remotely near the same bracket as modern dance music, purely on what they have achieved. Even huge fans of modern dance music would find it hard to pitch many modern acts up against the Essex behemoths.
Think of it this way, how many of these modern acts will still be considered so important in 5 years? Never mind 20.
The Prodigy became almost a gateway group into dance music, many who listened to just guitar or rock music, myself being one of them, they bridged that gap between genres thanks to the utilisation of heavy set punk guitar riffs in tracks like “Voodoo people”. Something which hasn’t been done with such success by anyone else.
Personally, no dance track has ever made so much an impression on me as when I first heard “Omen”. I’m sure it’ll be the same for many more. Previously I had no interest in that sort of genre, I had been brought up on punk music, but it completely changed the face of electronic music for me, and for a whole generation. There was a chaos about it all, an energy that was so similar to punk, it was like nothing else that had come before, it appealed to so much more than the genres typical demographic.
When you put all this sort of information together, it’s genuinely perplexing. Blur only had one more number one album so why are the group seemingly missing from this bracket?
It’s a glaring omission, for a group that without a doubt not only shaped & defined a single genre, but more importantly changed the way that everyone else looked at dance music. An impression that hasn’t been replicated since.
The Prodigy have just released their fantastic single “Nasty” from the upcoming album “The Day Is My Enemy”.