It's hard to swallow, but Nine Inch Nails formed 25 years ago. What's most impressive is that Trent Reznor, the project's creator and only official member (shown above with his side project How to Destroy Angels), has managed to make consistently popular, challenging and original music without sacrificing his own peculiar vision, which is sometimes misanthropic and always morose.
Last week, NIN shared a new song called 'Came Back Haunted,' the first single from the 'Hesitation Marks' album Columbia Records plan to release September 3. Nine Inch Nails also announced a massive international tour that will keep the band on the road for three straight months later this year. Trust us ― you don't want to miss a chance to attend a NIN show. Nothing compares.
Because of NIN's immense discography, picking the band's five best songs isn't easy. The first three releases – 'Pretty Hate Machine,' 'Broken,' and 'The Downward Spiral' – are stone cold classics without a single throwaway song. Then there are the five albums Reznor has released since, all of which contain a few excellent tracks. It was tough, but we did it anyway.
5. 'We're In This Together'
This was one of the biggest singles from 'The Fragile' (1999). It interestingly showed Reznor, a lone wolf, if there ever was one, welcoming someone else into the storm with him. According to the album liner notes, the lyrics were inspired by David Bowie's 'Heroes.' Reznor showed his softest side here, but the music was mighty and stadium-ready. Nothing can stop him.
This was the second single from NIN's fourth album, 'With Teeth' (2005). It makes sense that there was a DFA remix of 'With Teeth' song 'The Hand That Feeds' considering how much 'Only' had in common with the music DFA co-founder James Murphy released that same year on his LCD Soundsystem debut. It was one of NIN's most straightforward pop/dance tracks, but Reznor kept his hostile stance toward other humans even while taking dead aim on the radio.
The 'Broken' EP (1992) dropped between 'Pretty Hate Machine' and 'The Downward Spiral,' and its second song, 'Wish,' was one of NIN's most savage moments. Against a throbbing beat and noisy guitars, Reznor builds the world up just to take it apart. Never has anyone sounded so thrilled to be on their way to hell. Reznor can't wait.
The chorus for 'Closer,' the second single from NIN's second album, 'The Downward Spiral' (1994), upset some people. That was probably Reznor's goal, but it led to censored versions and awkward radio edits. But nothing could take away the deviant sexual energy and taboo religious implications of 'Closer.' That it was NIN's most obviously danceable single at the time was also a plus, and this secured Reznor's position as a force in the pop music world.
1. 'Head Like a Hole'
This opening song from NIN's debut album, 'Pretty Hate Machine' (1989), perfectly articulated the Me-Versus-Everything philosophy Reznor practices. His first principle? “I'd rather die than give you control.” The song title, like the band name, came from a quote by Al Jourgensen, where the Ministry frontman talked about his band: “Listening to Ministry is like having a nine inch nail hammered into your head like a hole." This brutal song showing Reznor doing something fresh with his industrial-rock roots is NIN's best.