Undoubtedly Nine Inch Nails is one of the most important bands of the ’90s. Trent Reznor and the rest of Nine Inch Nails brought electronic music to the forefront and blended it perfectly with rock music, creating a unique sound that many bands after have adapted and took inspiration from. Years later, people still can feel the impact of their music and are still pierced by Reznor’s soul-wrenching voice and vulnerable lyrics. The band has sold over 20 million albums, and Trent Reznor continues to work on film soundtracks and continues to tour with a new backing lineup from the original group.
Fans may never agree on what the definitive best songs are for Nine Inch Nails, but here are nine of them that rank amongst their best work.
The title of this song speaks for itself. Probably Nine Inch Nail’s most soul-bearing and emotional song, ‘Hurt’ is undeniably one of their best pieces of work they’ve ever put out. A song is great when it can make you feel what the artists felt at the time they recorded it, and anyone listening to ‘Hurt’ can attest that they can feel the pain inside of Reznor. He even said that the band cried when they made the song because of the intense feelings it provoked.
No other song tells as much about the mindset and mood of Trent Reznor as ‘Burn,’ a song on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Along with strong riffs and a honky-tonk piano near the end, the song gives you a look into this point in Reznor’s life where he was dealing with drug addiction, suffering from social anxiety, and recording in the home where Sharon Tate was murdered.
Nine Inch Nail’s first Grammy-winning song, ‘Wish,’ is a song off the EP Broken, which was a piece of work crafted without their record label’s permission, as Reznor was suing his label at the time. Interscope eventually released the EP, and ‘Wish’ was the centerpiece of the project that featured hard changes and was a rock riot.
The Perfect Drug
Written for the film Lost Highway, ‘The Perfect Drug,’ although not Reznor’s favorite song he’s ever written, is still a great piece. It’s a head trip of a song that was well received by the public and features yet another catchy hook by Reznor that is present in many of his songs.
Something I Can Never Have
Featured on the band’s debut album, ‘Something I Can Never Have’ is a beautifully haunting song centered around an equally soul-stirring piano line. This song solidified the direction and mood that many of their albums would hold, prompting Reznor to say that “maybe” there would be a happy NIN album, but that he doubted it.
Head Like a Hole
It’s only right to include the song that introduced many of us to Nine Inch Nails. Combining elements of industrial rock and thrash metal, ‘Head Like a Hole’ remains one of the band’s staple songs.
10 Miles High
Probably one of the only few songs that could be considered a “happier” tone by NIN, ’10 Miles High’ is a track that makes you want to clap along to the drums and riffs of the song, all while still being completely morbid.
The New Flesh
A B-side to We’re in This Together, ‘The New Flesh’ is an utterly miserable song that echoes with noise rock elements that contrast the happier song on the front-side. The video is as equally uncomfortable as the song.
Concluding with the band’s biggest hit, ‘Closer’ is the song that encompasses everything you need to know about the band. The song features an Iggy Pop drum sample, an infectious beat, caustic melody, and a signature hook, ‘Closer’ is one of the band’s most widely celebrated pieces.