Meaning of “Breathe” by The Prodigy
Despite being simple in its composition, 1996’s “Breathe” by The Prodigy is not the easiest song to interpret. Or perhaps a more-accurate explanation is that the track can be interpreted in a number of different ways.
The song is basically advising the listener to “breathe (in) the pressure”. However, it is never really specified exactly what “the pressure” is. On one hand it can be the band inviting the audience to form an addict-like relationship with The Prodigy’s wild brand of music. This is similar to the disposition lead singer Keith Flint takes in the song “Firestarter” from the same album “Breathe” is featured on – one of advising others to let their inhibited wild sides loose.
On the other hand, “Breathe” can be a song about drug addiction – in other words, the band’s roundabout way of warning the audience against partaking in illicit drugs. In fact an interpretation of this track based on drug addiction is the most-accepted theory behind its actual meaning. So under this model, Flint is taking on the role of the drug itself, inviting the listener to partake of it while simultaneously enlightening them on the undesirable aftereffects. And considering that Flint had his own issues with drug abuse, such is definitely plausible. Thus based on this understanding, the word “pressure” in the song would be synonymous with drugs.
But in reality, as mentioned earlier, “breathe the pressure” is an ambiguous statement that it can interpreted a number of ways. And this likely-intentional lyrical vagueness ultimately contributes to the lasting artistic relevancy of this song.
Facts about “Breathe”
- “Breathe” was written by all three members of The Prodigy (Liam Howlett, Maxim Reality and Keith Flint).
- Aside from his writing duties on “Breathe”, Howlett also solely handled the production duties on the track.
- The Prodigy (through XL Recordings) released this song on November 11, 1996. It was the second single from the band’s 1997 album, The Fat of the Land. This was the band’s third studio album.
- The song’s lead vocals are from Keith Flint and his bandmate Maxim Reality.
- In 1997, the song’s official clip won The Prodigy two MTV Awards, including one for the Video Music Award for Viewer’s Choice. Music video director Walter Stern directed this video.
- “Breathe” ended up becoming one of The Prodigy’s most commercially successful singles. It peaked at number 1 in at least 9 countries, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
- Having reached number in the United Kingdom, “Breathe” ended up becoming The Prodigy’s second successive number-one hit in that country. The band’s first was “Firestarter”.
Does “Breathe” contain samples?
Yes. Two songs are sampled in this track. They are: Thin Lizzy’s “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed” and Wu-Tang Clan’s “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'”.