Can a Happy Trent Reznor Write Good NIN Songs?

Categories: Fiesta!

reznorangry560.jpg
Reznor at peak anger.
By Dan McQuade

Trent Reznor sure is a happy guy these days.

In a recent interview in the Fader, Reznor is even shown as chipper when facing a root canal. Reznor's apparent changed mood is so interesting because he has faced his demons so publicly in his music. Reznor today is sober. His first Nine Inch Nails album since 2008 has received solid reviews. His recent NIN tour has gotten generally positive reviews. He's married. He has two kids. He has huge biceps. And he even won a Grammy! He's actually halfway to EGOT.

See Also: Nine Inch Nails Triumphantly Comes Out of Retirement at Chaifetz Arena

But, well, some NIN fans are a little disappointed in the new album. On NIN messageboards, there are many complaints about the happy tone of the new album. Of course, this is a little silly: Reznor is 48, and people shouldn't expect him to write the same type of music he did 25 years ago. But it's easy to see the source of the complaints. Many have noticed that "Came Back Haunted" -- Hesitation Marks' first single -- kinda sorta sounds like "Gangnam Style." And "Everything" is probably the most upbeat song Nine Inch Nails have ever released. Big Time Rush could cover it.

Regardless of how one feels about the mood of the new NIN album -- I find it fairly straightforward and enjoyable -- Trent Reznor has enough of a catalog that you can select a project of his to fit the mood you'd like. I've collected the data in a very scientific study to help you select a Trent Reznor work for every occasion.

Let's explore.

Era: 1989-1991

Nine Inch Nails albums: Pretty Hate Machine, several maxi-singles of PHM songs (Halos 1-4, for you NIN dorks like me)

Other notable work: The vocals on 1000 Homo DJs' "Supernaut," maybe

Song titles: "Sin," "Terrible Lie," "Head Like a Hole"

Common words in songs: you, just, what, want, away

Representative music video:

The video for "Down In It" was dark enough for the FBI to investigate it as a possible snuff film.

Anger level (out of 100): 44. The The Village Voice called Pretty Hate Machine "a Human League album, except with punchier guitars." The lyrics may be those of a tortured soul, but the album is so danceable and 1980s the band even appeared on Dance Party USA.


Era: 1992-1998

Nine Inch Nails albums: The Broken EP, The Downward Spiral, "The Perfect Drug," various remix albums (Halos 5-12)

Other notable work: Producing Marilyn Manson, the soundtrack to the 1996 video game Quake

Song titles: "Help Me I Am in Hell," "Happiness in Slavery," "The Downward Spiral," "Mr. Self Destruct," "Hurt"

Common words in songs: you, your, control, want, come Representative music video:

When shown on MTV, "Closer" had several scenes edited out and replaced with "scene missing" cards.

Anger rating (out of 100): 94. Yeesh. Remember, he recorded Downward Spiral in the house Sharon Tate was killed in. Even the sex song is "I want to fuck you like an animal."

Continue to the next page for more NIN anger analysis.

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16 comments
Jason Goad
Jason Goad

Huge fan for a long time. Enjoying the new music and tour. However I wouldn't trade the memories of Trent destroying keyboards at Woodstock.

Julia Nelson
Julia Nelson

if american horror story theme is any indication then YES. also just because someone is happy doesn't mean they are not sad. JK;)

Jeff Willett
Jeff Willett

He should have tried that back when he first started.

Rick Bodnar
Rick Bodnar

Ozzy.... " It's no fun being Sober. "

Kelly Brantley Hagerty
Kelly Brantley Hagerty

This isn't the first album to come along since he's been sober. With Teeth, Year Zero, The Slip, Ghosts I-IV.... Lots of good stuff contained in there.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

his wife is so smoking hot i'm surprised he even wants to leave the house.

Jay Binder
Jay Binder

I think guy's like Trent are talented and will write and perform top notch material BUT there just something about being young, pissed off, dirt broke that you cannot recreate when your older, happy and have income. It's for a time and it's been captured for us to hear whenever we want.

Jamie Jordan
Jamie Jordan

I saw his shows in the 90's and then again this month...In my opinion, he has the same grit, he's just matured and fine-tuned it. Who wants to be the exact same as they were 20 years ago? If he was, people would bash him for being a has-been. But, just my opinion:) I love his work! I think he has always been one if the best artists out there.

Tami Jolly-Bollinger
Tami Jolly-Bollinger

I don't think the new stuff is nearly as good as what he wrote in the early 90s. Not saying it's bad just not as good.

Mike McElhiney
Mike McElhiney

I miss the fragile and older albums. I love the new stuff, but just missing that pissed off edge

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