Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #30: 1,000,000 by Nine Inch Nails (2008)
I spent the decade of the 1990s with little more than a passing interest in Nine Inch Nails. I bought a used copy of The Downward Spiral at Berry’s Music more out of an implied demographic obligation than any real enjoyment. While the “Closer” video remains one of the more arresting visuals to ever get heavy rotation on MTV, I never saw much at the time to separate NIN from the other industrial hackneyed artists of the decade, no matter how often Dave Nelson sang the praises of Pretty Hate Machine. Too much of NIN’s output struck me as overly indulgent dicking around. It’s not that I thought Trent Reznor was a bad songwriter; it’s just that he put a lot of crap on albums that didn’t seem cohesively written in any sense. Still, I was intrigued at last year’s Lollapalooza to see if the more recent buzz about NIN’s creative upswing would finally click for me. The set opened with this song:
Will someone please find a wall I can run though? Because I do believe I am fired up.
The rest of that Lollapalooza show was just as tremendous, but this was the track that stuck with me.
If “Hurt” was a young emo soul’s introspective plea into the ether, “1,000,000” is that same soul hardened by an additional 14 years. No longer weeping like a child, but lashing back in aggressiveness, even while maintaining the escapist desire in “Hurt.” (It can't be a coincidence that both songs reference feeling “a million miles away,” can it?) Reznor’s songwriting has gotten progressively better even as his sales have decreased. Of course he's also gotten sober, which I would think might make one more productive. He seems to be ending NIN (for now) on a high note, though rock band “retirements” are usually taken about as seriously as those of boxers.
1,000,000 is available on the album The Slip, which is available for free at nin.com. It's not a bad deal.