When a band has as many albums and off shot projects as Reznor’s NIN, things can get deep pretty fast. For many, the studio albums and music video’s for singles are the only exposure they’ve ever gotten, and they’re happy with that. For others though, the countless singles, soundtrack contributions and remix albums are just as important as the original studio works. Today we’re discussing nin’s top ten best b-sides. This list is pulled from basically everything that isn’t on official albums, and I’d like to say it delves even deeper into what makes this band so ripe, with decay. Enjoy!
10. Gone,Still, And All That Could Have Been, CD
For my money, this song and the rest of the supplemental cd laid the groundwork for the wonderfully textured works we’d get from Reznor in the forms of the various Fincher scores he created, but this song will always be among his best and most focused. At an immediate two minute and thirty six seconds, “Gone, Still,” isn’t some sprawling piece of music, but rather acts as slow, weary transition among many of his more heavy hitting works. Perfect background music.
9. Get Down Make Love, Sin Single
One of the first band shirts I ever got was the “Sin” single shirt, but the reason for that was simple. “Get Down Make Love” stuck out in my head at an early age. Brilliantly done in a vastly different way than the Queen original, it’s one of the better industrial songs of the band's early career, and thankfully I’ve gotten to see it performed live. One of the best things about the track is it’s ability to stand on it’s own and not be overshadowed by the still brilliant original. Reznor screams and howls through the chorus, and the thumping nature of the track make it hard to not get into it.
8. Piggy(Nothing Can Stop me Now), Further Down the Spiral
This is likely an unpopular opinion, but this is easily my favorite version of “Piggy.” While TDS version is good, this bombastic and rough around the edges remix better compliments the desperation inherent in the songs bones. The background elements and beats flow freely and make the song develop a new beat, while Reznor’s remotely hushed lyrics peak in and out during the more intense sections. As far as remixes go, this is the one that succeeds over the original, and should be held up as such.
7. the New Flesh, We’re in This Together Single
Maybe one of the creepiest openings ever in the nin canon, which is saying a lot, but the way in which “The New Flesh,” bubbles under the surface and gradually loses itself is one of the most tension filled aspects of the band as a whole. You can literally hear the strings being pulled apart at the seams and before you know it Reznor is imploring the listener to ”Give it to Me.” This is a exquisite track that belongs prominently in the world of “The Fragile,” but I can see why it wasn't included in the actual format of the record.
6. the Perfect Drug, Lost Highway OST
This is likely the best known song on this list, but while it’s a brilliant track, it only makes it to number six on the best nin b sides. The track is full of nearly perfect execution, and even though it’s never been played live even a single time, it’s still one of the best songs to rock out too. It’s a damn shame that it's not played too. Rumor has it the drum sequence is otherworldly hard, but that’s part of what makes the song so great. It has its heavier element, but it’s very chipper in the melody of the vocals and to this day remains a great pop song, albeit one that is slightly hard to embrace.
5. A Violent Fluid, March of the Pigs Single
This blink and you’ll miss it interlude is maybe one of the better intro music type songs Reznor ever recorded, and while it’s only slightly over one minute, the way it slinks in and zero’s on it’s prey in a very science fiction way is what draws me to the song. It signals the arrival of a benevolent force, with conquering on it’s mind, and an appetite that knows no limits.This nearly singular beat runs rampant through the track, and as quickly and with as much fury as it arrived, it’s gone.
4. Metal, Things Falling Apart
This Gary Numan cover was initially done over a decade ago as part of the remix album that followed “The Fragile,” and while some of the songs aren't the best, ‘Metal” delivers in a wonderful way. For me it harkens back to the production quality of “Broken,” with it’s in your face beats and rough edges while continuing to redefine the concept of what thought provoking industrial could be in the beginnings of the aughts. Reznor lets loose fluidly during the first course of the song, but by the end it builds to a hauntingly atmospheric track that perfectly conveys how well nin is able to move from one area to the next.
3. Adrift and At Peace, Quiet
Another from the “Quiet” tracks, this song is among the most floaty and spatially full songs ever recorded by the band. Elements of “La Mer” and “The Great Below” are present here, but “Adrift and At Peace” is able to sit poised and cool and stand on it’s own two legs. In the three minutes the song rarely picks up pace, but that seems to be in line with the vibe and aesthetic of the track. The listener is meant to be at peace, and peace implies an easy voyage, and the instrumentation of the song absolutely sets you at a slower, more content pace.
2. Home, With Teeth B-Sides
This song is just so incredible. Seriously it might be the best thing that ever came from “With Teeth” existing in the world. Now, “WT” isn’t a terrible album, but for better or worse it has moments that are completely forgettable. “Home” however, is one of the bright moments. This is a track so good I genuinely wish it had been included on the record, but for whatever reason it isn’t. The drumming is feracious and concentrated, while Reznor’s slow sullen voice doesn’t hit full full stride until the two minute mark, but it’s gone just as swiftly. The song doesn’t have some bug operatic moment in terms of the instrumentation, but it’s not needed at all. It’s a heavy down tempo song that fills the space it needs to, and leaves hints of what’s to come in places it deems safe.
1. Burn, Natural Born Killers OST
And finally we arrive at number one.Created for the absolutely brilliant “NBK” film, Reznor makes a song so full of resentment and anger that you can feel it enveloping you as it takes your senses over. The beats are brilliant, and the story of seeing what you're meant to become, for better or worse is captivating. The vocals are an arrangement of hushed and violent, which may sound weird, but it’s generally a song about going all the way into the worse ports of yourselves, and finally getting to a point where you’re “Gonna Burn this whole world down.” Speaking of the buildup and breakdown, it’s one of the better ones ever created by Reznor, and to this this day that sections inspires many a fist pumped at concerts. In conclusion, “Burn” isn’t only the best non album format nine inch nails track, but also a song that is fundamentally perfect in the vein of violent industrial music. Thanks for reading.
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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