The electronic dance music scene is a fickle business, and even more so in the late ’90s. Back then, you had to work twice as hard to make it in the DJ world. You had to lug crates of vinyl from show to show, and if you wanted to make it in the United States, a country that once burned hundreds of disco records in a stadium and called every untz-untz song “techno,” you had to do more than stand out. You had to create a character, sound and vibe that was something spectacular and undeniable. For one English DJ and producer, that was a total oxymoron.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Fatboy Slim told NPR about his name in a 2001 interview. “I’ve told so many different lies over the years about it I can’t actually remember the truth. It’s just an oxymoron – a word that can’t exist. It kind of suits me – it’s kind of goofy and ironic.”
He experienced quite the career peak in the late ’90s and early 2000s, dazzling American audiences with his fresh blend of breakbeats, rock’n’roll and electro-house. When the dance music explosion of the late aughts took the States by storm, he continued to inspire a new generation of DJs, becoming a sought-after booking for festivals including Holy Ship! In 2018, he celebrates the 20th anniversary of his beloved sophomore LP You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby. Billboard recently named his song “The Rockefeller Skank” the 17th best song of 1998. Today, we at Billboard Dance celebrate his legacy as a whole with these ten favorite Fatboy Slim songs. Which one is your favorite?
10. Fatboy Slim – “Sunset (Bird of Prey)”
You’re right. That is Jim Morrison of The Doors luring you in with his mystical vocals, but it’s Slim who sets the stage for this psychedelic melody. The video features the famous “Daisy” commercial used by President Lyndon B. Johnson during his campaign, not the usual tone for a dance music video, but then again, “Sunset (Bird of Prey)” isn’t your average tune. It’s dreamy and beat-heavy, perfect for getting lost in a daze, and definitely an example of Fatboy Slim’s unique sound and range of styles.
9. Fatboy Slim – “Demons” Feat. Macy Gray
Anyone who’s a fan of the Netflix show Sense8 knows this as the soundtrack to the steamiest sex scene in the show. “Demons” features an instantly-recognizable vocal from the great Macy Gray. This cut comes from 2000’s Halfway Between The Gutter and the Stars, another absolute classic for electronica enthusiasts generations over.
8. Fatboy Slim – “Gangster Trippin'”
From that fateful 1998 release, “Gangsta Trippin'” is a monster beat with a mean swing that’ll turn any grandma into a b-boy. It features five samples, including bits from DJ Shadow‘s “Entropy,” “Beatbox Wash” by Dust Junkys, “You Did It” by Ann Robinson, and both “Word Play” and “The Turntablist Anthem” by the X-Ecutioners. It’s groovy and upbeat with an almost tropical touch, but it’s all about those funkadelic horns that hit the hook.
7. Fatboy Slim – “Star 69”
“They know what is what, but they don’t know what is what, they just strut. What the f-?” If you’re a true head, these words alone get you going on the dance floor. Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj sampled this absolute stomper on “Swish Swish,” but that hardly comes close to the industrial bang of this 2001 beat. The iconic sample comes from Roland Clark’s “I Get Deep,” but we implore you to space out with one of Fatboy Slim’s hardest beats.
6. Groove Armada – “I See You” Feat. Gram’ma Funk (Fatboy Slim Remix)
Who here remembers the MTV show Cribs? The Futureshock remix of this Groove Armada favorite served as the intro theme song, and anyone who spent hours watching marathon episodes should remember it as a total jam. We think this version from Fatboy Slim is the ultra funkiest, though. Let this beat and Gram’ma Funk take you to new heights all night long.
5. Fatboy Slim & Riva Starr – “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” Feat. Beardyman
A good night on the dance floor is a little hard to explain. Beardyman does his best job with the vocal of this track, an experience that is truly unbelievable, nonsensical, and in many ways, relatable for ravers around the world. This Fatboy Slim song spawned a ton of tank tops and a successful Calvin Harris remix. It also marked the end of a three-year release hiatus for Slim. It’s nearly impossible to hear this and not laugh, so enjoy.
4. Fatboy Slim – “Right Here, Right Now”
“Right Here, Right Now” served as the second single from You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby, and its famous strings still ring loud in the hearts of electronic fans new and old. It’s been remixes by a few new-school favorites in celebration of the milestone, including CamelPhat and Carmada, but we still feel most partial to the original. The music video showcases the evolution of life from a single cell to mighty mankind, and that sample? It’s actually Angela Bassett. There you have it.
3. Fatboy Slim – “Weapon of Choice” Feat. Bootsy Collins
You’ve seen Christopher Walken play some truly harrowing characters, but have you ever seen the actor fly? He’s actually a classically-trained dancer, and he shows those moves in the Spike Jonze directed music video for this 2001 big beat classic. That painting he passes is actually a portrait of the actor as well. And that cool voice? That’s the legendary Bootsy Collins of Parliament-Funkadelic fame.
2. Fatboy Slim – “The Rockafeller Skank”
This beat isn’t just big. It’s absolutely massive. The famous line repeated throughout the song originally comes from Vinyl Dogs‘ tune “Vinyl Dog Vibe,” spoken by Lord Finesse. It comes to life over a collection of samples, including “Sliced Tomatoes” by Just Brothers, The Bobby Fuller Four’s “I Fought the Law,” “Beat Girl” by John Barry and his Orchestra, and a guitar line from Art of Noise’s “Peter Gunn.” This song landed at No. 76 on the Hot 100 in 2000, and it continues to be a must-play for DJs and b-boys around the world. Who else can pull off a mid-song tune-warp as dope as this?
1. Fatboy Slim – “Praise You”
This music video is almost as iconic as the song itself. Directed by Spike Jonze with Roman Coppola, it features Jonze leading a fictional dance troupe in a rousing public display of silliness in front of a movie theater in Los Angeles. It was shot guerilla style, meaning they didn’t have permission to do it, so they really had to nail that cut. Mr. Slim makes a cameo, so watch closely. “Praise You” peaked at No. 36 on the Hot 100 in 1999, giving Slim his biggest hit on the charts to date.