411 Music Ten Deep 09.18.13: The Top 10 Nine Inch Nails Songs
Posted by Sean Walker on 09.18.2013
From "The Hand That Feeds" and "Copy of A" to "Hurt," "Reptile" and more, 411's Sean Walker counts down the top 10 Nine Inch Nails songs of all-time!
Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the Ten Deep! With the release of the Nine Inch Nails new album Hesitation Marks, I thought I would like to share my favorite songs ever made by them. Please note that this is strictly official and my favorites may be different from yours. Don't be shocked to find that some of their greatest hits may not make the list. With that out of the way, lets get started!
(A/N: I had to put this column on stall due to a painful Hemorrhoid. I still have it, and it hurts like hell. This hasn't been a great week at all.)
The Top Ten Greatest Nine Inch Nails Tracks
Just missing the 10:
"Closer" (The Downward Spiral)
"Came Back Haunted" (Hesitation Marks)
"Happiness in Slavery" (Broken EP)
"Wish" (Broken EP)
"We're In this Together" (The Fragile)
10. "Copy of A" (Hesitation Marks)
It's still too early to determine the historical factor of this song, considering it was just released. I was ecstatic when Reznor said HM was inspired by The Downward Spiral. This song however evokes both The Downward Spiral and Pretty Hate Machine. On the first listen, I was initially underwhelmed by it. However as I began to listen to it more and more, I grew to love it. It has the electronic vibe of PHM and the alternative madness of TDS. Trent Reznor was able to create a musical inception without sounding too cheesy or cliched.
9. "Reptile" (The Downward Spiral)
Ah, vintage Nine Inch Nails. Hearing this song again made me relive those bitter, dark depressing, er, never mind. Anyways, Reptile is about an apparent ex of Reznor's who turns out to be a whore. Meanwhile he goes through 5 levels of hell as this heavy metal and electronic masterpiece storms through six minutes. I'm pretty sure we can relate to this at one time in our lives... Right? The downward spiral remains my favorite album of the Nails and my second favorite of the 90s behind "Jagged Little Pill" by Alanis Morissette. However that's another story for another day.
8. "Survivalism" (Year Zero)
The Nine Inch Nails weren't known for being very political like say, Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan. It wasn't until 2007 with the release of Year Zero, that they tackled the topic head on. The album is large a hit or miss affair, with the hits being gems, and the misses being duds. This song is aggressive. It commands your attention. I commended Reznor called Mother Nature a whore. It's true. How dare she give back to the community for the pure joy of it! The nerve of women these days…
7. "Everyday is Exactly the Same" (With Teeth)
I loved With Teeth when it was released. Obviously I am in the minority seeing as it didn't sell too well compared to previous albums. It is one of the most underrated albums of the 21st century. "Everyday is Exactly the Same" is an excellent alt-rock/electronic ballad that holds up with the rest of their catalog. It was a great companion to previously released single "The Hands That Feeds", but I'll get to that later. This song is subtle and shows shades of "Hurt" where you're waiting for it to implode within itself, but it doesn't. It manages to remain stable throughout the play through and leaves you ultimately satisfied.
6. "Burn" (The Downward Spiral)
I didn't hear hear this song until I picked up the remastered edition of The Downward Spiral where this was a bonus track. I had no idea this was written for Natural Born Killers seeing as I never watched it. However it is a great song that would've fit in perfectly with the concept of TDS. The song speaks of a man who is rejected by the world, so he decides to lash on it by, well, burning it.I loved the guitar solo of it, and the anger that it gave off.
5. "The Hand That Feeds" (With Teeth)
Fans were clamoring for a new NIN album in 2005 seeing as the last one came before the new millennium. Right until "The Hand That Feeds" was released as the lead single. To be fair, I was a tad skeptical to hear what stories a sober Trent could tell. I know, sue me; I'm going to hell, yadda yadda, etc , However, like one of my other favorite bands, Linkin Park (not comparing them), Reznor felt the need to evolve his music, while maintaining the signature Nine Inch Nails sound. The result was a fantastic album that introduced them to a new generation. "The Hand That Feeds" is without a doubt one of the better commercial rock songs of the 2000s. I wonder if this song was written for George Bush. If so that makes this song's message much more powerful. It has a very aggressive sound that NIN is known for. I stand corrected when it comes to sober Trent.
4. "The Day the World Went Away" (The Fragile)
This is the song that made me a true believer in what Trent could truly do. This was the complete opposite of what I expected to be when it was announced as the lead single. It was said that if was written for his grandmother, who passed away months before. That adds even more emotional depth to an already great song. There's only one verse and the rest is just Reznor singing "Na Na Na" until the song ends. However what makes this song so great is the power guitar riff mixed with with a little acoustic that makes it perfect for me. There's also a version with David Bowie on it that you should also listen to, however I prefer this version for its powerful message.
3. "Something I Can Never Have" (Pretty Hate Machine)
We are now going to take this list back to the 80s. While some people like Head Like a Hole more because of its aggressiveness, I tend to side on the more soft side Trent Reznor. This was Reznor's first true ballad that was so much different than what was released at the time. He would use the now infamous scream/whisper technique to carry this song into another level. I wasn't born when this album came out, but I was able to look back on it once it was re-released. It doesn't quite hold up to the rest of his albums in my opinion, but it still is a great album. Something I Can Never Have showed the world that the Nine Inch Nails wasn't just a one trick pony. I found it hard to believe that they were at one time marketed as a synth-pop band. That had to limit their potential at the time. Nevertheless, they 'broke the mold' to become Industrial legends.
2. "In This Twilight" (Year Zero)
I wasn't really a fan of Year Zero when it was released. It was a tad too electronic synthy for me and was too robotic and repetitive. However when I heard this song for the first time, I thought it was an instant classic. For the first time on the album, the emotion didn't feel forced. It felt like Reznor was genuinely singing these lyrics with believable spirit and drive. The synthesizers were pulled to a minimum and the listener was allowed to breathe for once. This is my personal favorite NIN song and for good reason. It's damn good.
1. "Hurt" (The Downward Spiral)
Did anyone not expect this to be number one? This is the song that made me a fan of NIN. I personally love this version more than the later released Johnny Cash version (which is great in its' own right). You can feel the depression and pain run through Reznor as he whispers out the lyrics. As the song progresses, Trent is slowly and slowly killing himself off until the end of the song where he ultimately ends his life. This is the art of storytelling at its' finest. If you didn't feel the emotion by the time the song concluded, what the hell is wrong with you man?!
I have my copy of Hesitation Marks. It looks to be a return to form for this legendary band. Be sure to pick up the album. Are there any of your favorites that didn't make the list? Tell me about them or feel free to comment on how shitty my opinion is. I'll smile either way. See you next week when I count down the top ten dance songs that aren't brainless and generic!