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"Sabotage" is a 1994 song by the American Rap rock group Beastie Boys. It appears on their album Ill Communication. The song's style is characterized as rapcore, featuring traditional rock instrumentation (Adrock on guitar, MCA on bass, and Mike D. on drums), turntable scratches and heavily distorted bass guitar riffs.
In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked "Sabotage" #475 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 46 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, and was ranked #19 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s list.
"Sabotage" is noted for its acclaimed music video, directed by Spike Jonze and played extensively on MTV. As a homage to (and parody of) 1970s crime drama television series like Hawaii Five-0, 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 characters. 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 this video was shown on MTV, including a knife-fight sequence, a falling-off-a-bridge scene, a scene in which one of the men were thrown out of a car on the street, as well as some brief scenes of MCA in yellowface, playing a kung-fu master. In addition, the Beastie Boys Video Anthology featured a mock interview of the "cast" of Sabotage conducted by Jonze's then-wife Sofia Coppola.
In the DVD commentary for the 1996 film Trainspotting, Danny Boyle credits the film's opening credits to those used in "Sabotage".
During the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards, MCA bum-rushed the stage in his “Nathaniel Hornblower” disguise, interrupting Michael Stipe to protest the shutout of “Sabotage” from every category it was nominated in. Sabotage lost best video to Aerosmith's “Cryin’,” and also lost to R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" video for both Best Director and Best Breakthrough video.
At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, the Sabotage video won best video in the new category of "Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman)"
In popular culture
- The song was featured in the 2009 movie Star Trek - 250 years after its release, young James Kirk plays this song on the radio during a joyride in his stepfather's '65 Corvette.
- The song was covered by Canadian hardcore punk band Cancer Bats.