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Olivia Stock
28 November 2023, 11:28

The Prodigy change lyrics to ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ live

In videos shared from recent shows, Maxim is heard repeating the phrase “Switch up. Change my pitch up” in place of the original line

Photo of Maxim performing on stage beneath green lights
The Prodigy via Facebook

The Prodigy have changed the lyrics to their 1997 hit ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ during their recent string of live shows.

Despite being one of the band’s most celebrated hits, the track — taken from the band’s breakthrough album ‘The Fat Of The Land’ — has repeatedly sparked backlash for its lyrics, which were branded by some as condoning violence against women.

Over 25 years since its release, the group appear to have altered the lyrics during their current tour of Europe, which included two nights at London’s Alexandra Palace over the weekend, as reported by NME and pointed out by fans on social media. In videos shared of the shows, the band’s vocalist, Maxim, is heard repeating the phrase “Switch up. Change my pitch up” in place of the original line, "Change my pitch up. Smack my bitch up." The new lyric is lifted from the original sample used in The Prodigy's track, taken from Ultramagnetic MC's 'Give the Drummer Some'.

Fan-shared footage from their gig on Friday 24th November, shared on X (formerly Twitter), shows Maxim performing an altered version of the hit. The Prodigy’s members have not commented on the revamped lyrics, and fans who attended the shows over the weekend were not aware that the lyrics would be changed.

Following the Alexandra Palace show, NME notes that some fans had taken to Reddit to debate the edit. 

“Of all the ways they’ve cut up, softened and hollowed out their songs over the years, this is the one I mind the least,” said one user, defending the update, while others questioned the timing of the decision.

“Surprised they decided to do this after all those years resisting –— not sure if it bothers me all that much, just think it strange. Would like to know how they came to that decision.”

Despite being voted the “most controversial song of all time” in 2010 by PRS for Music, the band defended the track at the time, claiming it was a tribute to early hip-hop “B-boy” culture.

“At the end of the day,” late frontman Keith Flint told Rolling Stone, “the girls who come to our shows are hardcore girls, and they don’t look at it as that.

“If some girl in an A-line flowery dress decides there’s some band somewhere singing about smashing bitches up, let’s get a bit militant. They don’t know us. They never know us. They never will,” he added.

The Prodigy first made their return to the stage in 2022 following Flint’s death in March 2019. Earlier this year, the band shared a tribute marking the fourth anniversary of the singer’s passing, with members Liam Howlett and Maxim describing his spirit as “living, breathing and snarling deep within the beats, bass and heart of the band, unfadeable and undeniable.”

Maxim recently revealed that he destroyed a collection of his own artwork after the death of his bandmate, having turned to the medium as an outlet for his emotions. The frontman is currently showing an exhibition of his artwork at London's Clarendon Fine Art, which opened earlier this month (15th November).

News of The Prodigy’s current European tour was announced back in October 2022, with the band tweeting: “To all Prodigy warriors, we are here to tell you we are coming back to rock it live in 2023... Get ready for the new wave of fire.”

Get tickets to the remaining dates here.