Provocative, Pounding New NIN Songs Leaked To Radio
Two tracks from The Fragile represent opposite
ends of musical spectrum for frontman Trent
The new double-sided single from Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent
Reznor packs in everything his fans have come to expect from the
tortured, industrial studio hound: whispered, wounded vocals,
ambient, dark keyboards, walls of distorted guitars, pounding drums
and biting profanity.
The songs will appear on The Fragile, the first NIN album to be
released in more than five years. The tracks represent opposite
ends of the industrial rocker's sonic spectrum. Radio programmers
said they were quick to put the quiet "The Day the World Went
Away" (RealAudio excerpt) and the caustic "Starfuckers, Inc."
(RealAudio excerpt) into power rotation as soon as the music
arrived earlier this week (Click here for lyrics to both songs).
"We played [the single] right away, even before
we had a chance to do the 27 edits on 'Starf'er' "
said Steve Kingston, program director for New
York radio station WXRK-FM (92.3), which has
been airing the songs since the station received
them Monday night, three days before the official
add date. "We've gotten a ton of calls on both
songs since," Kingston added. The Fragile is
unofficially slated for release in September.
"The Day the World Went Away," listed as the
A-side to the commercial single due in stores
Tuesday, opens with the ominous moan of
keyboards that are quickly overcome by a slowly
strummed army of distorted guitars.
Reznor's nearly whispered vocal breaks through
exactly one-and-a-half minutes into the song,
with the lyrics: "I'd listen to the words he'd say/ In
his voice I heard decay/ The plastic face forced to
portray/ The insides left cold and gray."
Continuing over an indistinct hum of keyboards
and strummed acoustic guitars, Reznor sings,
"There is a place that still remains/ It eats the
fear, it eats the pain/ The sweetest price he'll
have to pay/ The day the whole world went
The song fades out in a buzz of swelling "na, na, na" vocals and
guitar distortion that bring to mind such previous NIN songs as
"Hurt" (RealAudio excerpt) from 1994's The Downward Spiral.
A spokesperson for Reznor's label, Nothing Records, did not return
phone calls for comment by press time.
Reznor was quoted in an article in the July issue of Rolling Stone
as saying The Fragile is "one of those records that doesn't jump out
of the speakers."
"It's real hard for me to have any degree of objectivity," Reznor
reportedly said. "People say, 'What's it sound like?' I don't f---ing
know. I like it. It's by far the best record I've ever done." For the past
month, photos of Reznor and snippets of new NIN music have been
appearing with nearly daily frequency on the official NIN site
(www.nin.com). Reznor has been absent from the limelight for
nearly two years, while he worked on The Fragile in his New
The lyrically and musically pointed "Starfuckers, Inc.," a propulsive
track in which a robotic-sounding Reznor sneers lyrics over a
skittering electronic beat, has the familiar, explosive techno-rock
sound of such early NIN songs as "Head Like a Hole" (RealAudio
excerpt) and 1997's "Perfect Drug" (RealAudio excerpt).
"My god is in the back of the limousine/ My god comes in a
wrapper of cellophane/ My god pouts on the cover of the magazine/
My god is a shallow little bitch trying to make a scene," Reznor
deadpans over a driving beat. The chorus of the song explodes over
a buzz saw of guitars, with Reznor shouting the words "Starfuckers/
Starfuckers/ Starfuckers, Inc."
The provocative lyrics elicited a number of theories about who
Reznor might be referring to in the song. "I think it's about [Hole
leader and former Reznor paramour] Courtney Love," said disc
jockey Cruze of WFNX (101.7 FM) in Boston, Mass. The station put
both songs into heavy, every-other-hour rotation Tuesday morning,
according to music director Laurie Gail, who said she has already
received hundreds of calls requesting and commenting on the
"There might be some broader things in there about [ex-Reznor
protégé] Marilyn Manson," said Cruze, who would only give his
radio handle, "but I've heard it's about Courtney because she's been
more critical about him."
Cruze said when Hole played the Forum in Boston earlier this year,
Love made a sexually provocative crack about Reznor in which she
suggested the band should be called "Four Inch Nails."
To add to the drama, the five-minute "Starfuckers, Inc." makes a sly
reference to a famous kiss-off song by '70s folk-rock singer Carly
Simon, "You're So Vain" (1972) (RealAudio excerpt), in which
Simon is widely believed to be dissing either actor Warren Beatty or
Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger.
"All our pain/ How did we ever get by without you?," Reznor sings in
a menacingly sweet voice, "I bet you think this song is about you/
Don't you?" he adds, quoting the Simon song, eventually screaming
the words "Don't you?" over a barrage of guitars and frantic drums.
"I think that the songs represent an amazing evolution in the
amount of integration that Trent Reznor has decided to use between
... traditional sound and machine-based sounds," NIN fan Keith
Duemling, 21, wrote in an e-mail. The Ohio resident and webmaster
of the NIN site "SmashedUpSanity," who heard the songs on the
WFNX RealAudio radio station, said he's been waiting what seemed
like a lifetime for new music from his favorite band.
Neither Duemling, nor a NIN fan named April, who runs the
9inchnails.net site, were surprised that the songs were quickly
bootlegged and posted in MP3 format all over the Internet. "I
scrambled to get them up myself asap," wrote April, who did not
give her last name. "NIN fans are some of the most dedicated
music fans I have ever met, and being one myself, I have been
drooling and waiting for so long now, I could hardly prevent myself
from getting so excited."
Nine Inch Nails' genre-defining industrial-rock debut, 1989's, Pretty
Hate Machine, was followed by a pair of remix EPs, 1992's Broken
Their debut, as well as 1994's The Downward Spiral - which also
featured a sequel remix album, Further Down the Spiral (1995) -
were composed and performed entirely by Reznor, who is believed
to have taken the same route on The Fragile.
Senior Writer Gil Kaufman
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.