Ah, Nine Inch Nails. Nothing was greater than the tidal wave of music these guys brought into the hearts of rock fans everywhere. The nineties were a crazy time for sure, and I know that it wouldn’t have been the same without them.
Every throughout the early 2000s this band was able to make a prominent stand against the disgusting trend of pop music and glamour that came along with that period. The part I’ve always enjoyed about Nine Inch Nails, above anything else – was the lyrics. Their lyrics can be so guttural, yet so complex that they make you take a step back from the chaos to really think about yourself. Let’s get into what made these lyrics so good – and which ones make the cut.
“Somewhat Damaged” ’91
“It’s funny how… Everything you swore would never changed… Is different now.”
This song has so many layers to it, and the richest one happens to be at the very end of the song. In this lyric, I believe the band is speaking from the heart in a way that you don’t get to see in your average Nine Inch Nails song.
The band seems to be speaking from a place of uncertainty – in reference to the nature of the band’s success. Getting rich and famous doesn’t seem like it’s all that it’s cracked up to be, as the band ended up fighting a lot during these times of early stardom. With Capitol Records breathing down their neck, and a fear of not living up to their idols, the band wasn’t sure what their next move would be.
“The Fragile” ’99
This song take a deeper rooted emotional stance than the last one. Above all else, love prevails – right? Well, the lyrics – “She shines… In a world full of ugliness… She matters when everything is meaningless”, do too.
“She shines” refers to the eloquent beauty the world has to offer (in this instance, a girl). “In a world full of ugliness” is a classic Nine Inch Nails line that could potentially incorporate itself in the majority of their songs, but when it’s spoken right before, “She matters when everything else is meaningless.” – you know that her beauty should be valued and held onto for a long as possible.
Nine Inch Nails really hit the nail on the head in this song, and I think it’s important to notice a shift in Nine Inch Nails’ lyrics and tone that would set the course for the band’s trajectory for the next few years to come.
“The Great Below” ’99
“And I descend from grace… In arms of undertow… I will take my place… In the great below”
This one’s kind of a bummer, but it’s probably my all-time-favorite Nine Inch Nails lyric – for a number of reasons. It mostly speaks of self-destruction. The lyrics, it’s hard to understand what he means at first, but once you think about plummeting downward and placing your faith and trust into one body, you start to understand that it’s less about the ocean and more about giving yourself up for somebody to take advantage of – and possibly ruin.
Anyways, that was my interpretation. Happy listening.