July 19, 2000
Na Na Na, Nah: A Guide To Listening To The Fragile Without Feeling Like A Big Loser
First of all, be sure you're buying the right album. With so many different ones out there to choose from these days, there's always the chance that you'll mistakenly grab the wrong album and not even realize it until you've already gotten home. Don't make this mistake! Take a moment to double-check to make sure the album you're holding in your grubby little hand is The Fragile by Nine Inch Nails (it says so on the spine of the CD case).
Once you've purchased the CD (if you purchased the cassette or vinyl versions, just pretend i'm saying "cassette" or "vinyl" instead of "CD"), you should open the case and examine the contents. There should be two CD's (or three records) and a lyric booklet.
In order to make things easier for YOU, THE READER, I made these adorable little icons to represent different aspects of The Fragile's songs. Study them carefully, or there will be very dire consequences awaiting you.
Disc 1 (Left)
This is the first song on the album! This song is really loud and angry. It makes me want to break stuff. If you have a tendency to break stuff while listening to loud rock 'n roll music, I would recommend against listening to this song near a lot of glass. Unless you're into bleeding.
The Day The World Went Away
I've found that this is a good song to play at a good old-fashioned campfire while roasting weenies and s'mores. One time I changed the words so that it said "The Day The Weenies Went Away." That was very funny. It's annoying when the cord that runs from the guitar to the amp gets caught in the fire, though.
If you listen carefully, you may notice that this song is built on the same melody as The Fragile. It's a quiet, introspective piano instrumental. Not a real "party" song, but it does give you an opportunity to pick up all the stuff you broke while listening to the first two songs, before your parents get home.
This is a song about a whale! ...No, actually, it's a song about God reaching down from Heaven and beating people up with his big arm. I think that would be pretty fun to watch. What the hell is he whispering?
We're In This Together
Here we have one of only two NIN songs that contain the word "we". It's also the only NIN song to contain the words "impossible", "beaten", "fate", "flows", "together", "very", "awake", "fingers" (plural), "farther", "beside", "king" and "queen". Can you spot the grammatical error in this song?
This is what's known as the "title track", because the name of this song is the same as the name of the album. I bet you didn't know that. If I could think of more to write about this song, I'd --
Just Like You Imagined
This is one of thoe most complex, mind-bending NIN songs ever, and there aren't even any words! "Imagine" that! Trent and his filthy cohorts threw everything and the kitchen sink into this track. I tried to play this on the piano once, and my fingers got all cramped up. Never do that!
Trent brought fellow hip-hop artist Dr. Dre into the studio to mix this track. It turned out pretty well, but some of you may prefer the "old skool" sound of Down In It and Kinda I Want To. Also, the bass on this song sounds really crappy in my car.
This song is fun! It sure took Trent long enough to come up with the idea of having a marching band play in one of his songs (even if it is just a phony marching band that he made on a computer). I wish I could make marching band songs on my computer. I'd make a whole damn album of marching band songs. I guess I'd need a Mac for that, though.
No, You Don't
A fast-paced song reminiscent of something from the Broken EP. I had an idea for a cool video for this song once... it involved Ernest Borgnine being tied to a flagpole in his underwear and being force fed blueberry pancakes. This song gets really loud at the end, and then it gets quiet. Just so you know.
"La Mer" is French for "The Sea" (not to be confused with "Le Merde", which is French for "The Shit"). This is a mellow, relaxing song with a funky fresh beat and some woman talking about something or other in French, à la "Let's Talk About Cars" by the Butthole Surfers.
The Great Below
Trent closes the LEFT DISC with this song, which is similar to "Hurt" from The Downward Spiral. It's basically about walking out into the ocean and drowning. Kids: Please do not attempt this without a certified lifeguard (or David Hasselhoff) on duty.
Disc 2 (Right)
The Way Out Is Through
DISC TWO START NOW! This song starts out quietly, builds up with some "pulsing synths" (it's required by Federal law to use the term "pulsing synths" when describing this song), and then ROCKS at the end. I would have liked to see this song performed live, but alas, I did not get to, probably because Trent Reznor hates me and everybody is out to get me.
Into The Void
The beginning of this song reminds me of Final Fantasy music. Of course, lots of things remind me of Final Fantasy music while I'm deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents of an aerosol container. This song's hot, it's got a funky beat, and I can bug out to it! You might recognize the line "tried to save myself but myself keeps slipping" from the Michael Bolton song of the same name.
Where Is Everybody?
"Where is everybody?" asks Trent Reznor in the chorus of this song, amidst more ultra-funky beats and booty bass. They all went out to get pizza, Trent. Sorry... you snooze, you lose.
The Mark Has Been Made
This is my personal favorite instrumental on the album. A lot of people seem to think that this is a half-assed attempt at a song, for some reason. They must not be familiar with "Screaming Slave". This song sounds kind of like early Tom Waits, slowed down, and put through a funk blender (I made that up myself).
This is a pretty straightforward, solid NIN song (as opposed to all those liquid NIN songs). One thing this song definitely has, is pizazz. Well, actually, I just said that because I've been itching to use the word "pizazz" in a sentence all day. But I guess it's still a pretty pizazzy song anyhow. Oh, and pulsing synths.
No other NIN song has as many instances of profanity as this little gem. The oral sex reference is also worth noting. See "Star... What?" for an exclusive review of the music video for "Starsuckers, Inc." (also known as "Starfuckers For Kids").
Another instrumental. This one is fast and short. It goes kinda like this: "Wooowwwwwoowwwoowwwoowwwwowwww, Woowwwwwwooowwoowwwwwoooowwwoowwwwwww". I listen to this song when I'm ready to get my groove on. You should, too.
I'm Looking Forward To Joining You, Finally
Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... Minimalist Trent Reznor! This song has very little to it, but it's still pretty good. Trent Reznor proves that you don't have to be a Beatle to use a tamborine and still come off sounding cool.
The Big Come Down
This song is cool! It's really loud and noisy, and Trent Reznor yells a lot in it. That adds up to one heck of a neat song. The only thing that would have made it better is if he had sung the entire song in falsetto (à la "Heresy"). But that's okay. Maybe he'll sing entirely in falsetto on the next album (to marching band music, at that!)
Underneath It All
I couldn't seem to put any of my cool icons to this song, since it doesn't seem to apply to any of them. It's kinda weird, but I tend to like things that are kinda weird, and this song is no exception. Maybe it would be less strange if I could recognize one single instrument in it. It sounds almost as if the song was made on a machine of some sort! How odd.
Ripe (With Decay)
Hooray For Decay! This is the last song on the album. It's also an instrumental. This song, along with "The Day The Weenies Went Away", would sound lovely played beside a toasty campfire. If you listen carefully toward the chewy caramel center of the song, you'll hear a sample from the popular video game Pole Position. Seriously! Well, I think...