“Sabotage” is a 1994 song by American hip-hop group Beastie Boys, released as the first single from their fourth studio album Ill Communication.
The song features traditional rock instrumentation (Ad-Rock on guitar, MCA on bass, and Mike D on drums), turntable scratches, heavily distorted bass guitar riffs and lead vocals by Ad-Rock. A moderate commercial success, the song was notable as well for its video, directed by Spike Jonze and nominated in five categories at the 1994 MTV Music Video Awards.
In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Sabotage” #480 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at #46 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, and was ranked #19 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s list. Pitchfork Media included the song at #39 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 90s list.
The song’s music video, directed by Spike Jonze and played extensively on MTV, is a homage to, and parody of, 1970s crime drama shows such as Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco, S.W.A.T., Baretta, and Starsky and Hutch. The video is presented as the opening credits of a fictional 1970s-style police show called Sabotage, with the band members appearing as the show’s protagonists. Each band member is introduced as a fictional actor, and the names of the characters are also given.
The characters appearing on the show are (in order of credits):
Sir Stewart Wallace guest-starring as himself (played by MCA)
Nathan Wind as Cochese (also played by MCA)
Vic Colfari as Bobby, “The Rookie” (played by Ad-Rock)
Alasondro Alegré as “The Chief” (played by Mike D)
Fred Kelly as Bunny (played by DJ Hurricane)
Some scenes had to be removed when the video was shown on MTV, including a knife fight sequence, a falling-off-a-bridge scene, as well as a scene in which a man is thrown out of a car into a street. In addition, the Beastie Boys Video Anthology featured a mock interview of the “cast” of Sabotage conducted by Jonze’s then-wife Sofia Coppola. A more recent version, the uncut version, can be found on Vevo.
In the DVD commentary for the 1996 film Trainspotting, Danny Boyle credits the film’s opening credits to those used in “Sabotage.”
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “Sabotage”, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.