Sabotage (song)

"Sabotage" is a 1994 song by American hip-hop group Beastie Boys, released as the first single from their fourth studio album Ill Communication.

Sabotage single.jpg
Single by Beastie Boys
from the album Ill Communication
ReleasedJanuary 28, 1994
GenreRap rock[1][2][3]
LabelGrand Royal
Songwriter(s)Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch
Beastie Boys singles chronology
"Professor Booty"
"Get It Together"
Audio sample
Music video
"Sabotage" on YouTube

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.[4] 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.[5]

Music videoEdit

The song's music video, directed by Spike Jonze and played extensively on MTV,[6] 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):[7]

  • 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)

The Beastie Boys Video Anthology featured a mock interview of the "cast" of Sabotage conducted by Jonze's then-wife Sofia Coppola.[citation needed] Additionally, in the DVD commentary for the 1996 film Trainspotting, Danny Boyle credits the film's opening credits to those used in "Sabotage."[8]

Actress Amy Poehler reviewed the music video in the 2018's Beastie Boys Book saying that, "there would be no Anchorman, no Wes Anderson, no Lonely Island, and no channel called Adult Swim if this video did not exist."[9]


Some scenes had to be removed when the video was shown on MTV, including a knife fight sequence, a scene in which a man is thrown out of a car into a street, and one where another man is thrown off a bridge and is shown violently hitting the ground (is clearly visible that the bodies thrown are stunt dummies).[10]

1994 MTV Video Music AwardsEdit

The video for "Sabotage" was nominated for Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Direction in a Video, and Viewer's Choice at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards. However, it lost all five categories it was nominated in, losing Video of the Year, Best Group Video and Viewer's Choice to Aerosmith's "Cryin'", and Breakthrough Video and Best Direction in a Video to R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts".

During R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe's acceptance speech for the Best Direction award, Beastie Boys member MCA bum-rushed the stage in his "Nathaniel Hornblower" disguise, interrupting Stipe to protest the shutout of "Sabotage" from every category it was nominated in.

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)".[11]

In popular cultureEdit


Chart (1994) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[19] 94
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[20] 38
Dutch Singles Chart 35
UK Singles Chart[21] 19
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles 15
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[22] 18


  1. ^ Aaron, Charles (September 1999). "Top 20 Singles". Spin. 15 (9): 137.
  2. ^ Grierson, Tim (October 25, 2015). "Top 10 Essential Rap-Rock Songs". Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  3. ^ Weiss, Dan (April 6, 2012). "Ten Rap-Rock Songs That Are Actually Awesome". LA Weekly. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  4. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Beastie Boys, 'Sabotage'". 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 50-21". Pitchfork Media. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  6. ^ Smith, Ethan (2012). "Spike Jonze Unmasked". New York. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Beastie Boys: Sabotage (1994)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  8. ^ DVD commentary. Trainspotting.[clarification needed]
  9. ^ Horovitz, Adam; Diamond, Michael (2018). Beastie Boys Book. Faber & Faber. p. 471. ISBN 978-0571308040. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  10. ^ "Sabotage (Comparison: Regular Version, Extended Version)". April 23, 2018. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  11. ^ "The Playlist: Spike Jonze Wins Belated VMA For Beastie Boys' 'Sabotage'". 14 September 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  12. ^ Elvis Costello and Beastie Boys- Radio, Radio - YouTube Archived October 16, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Funk, Allie (July 21, 2016). "The Song In The Big 'Star Trek Beyond' Scene Will Make Beastie Boys Fans So Proud". Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  14. ^ Hogan, Marc (November 19, 2013). "Beastie Boys' 'Sabotage' Crashes 'How I Met Your Mother' 'Ill Communication' classic roars over the soundtrack and complements a punchline". Spin. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  15. ^ Modell, Josh (3 November 2015). "Steve 'N' Seagulls cover Beastie Boys". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  16. ^ Tobia, Scott (3 February 2016). "The People v. O.J. Simpson Recap: The Bronco Chase". Vulture. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Trailer for Destiny 2". Bungie. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  20. ^ "Beastie Boys Top Singles positions". RPM. Archived from the original on 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
  21. ^ "Beastie Boys Album & Song Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
  22. ^ "Beastie Boys Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2011-05-10.

External linksEdit