- Closer (Nine Inch Nails song)
"Closer/Closer to God"
Cover artwork for the "Closer to God" U.S. CD single
Single by Nine Inch Nails from the album The Downward Spiral Released May 30, 1994 Format CD, 12", Cassette Recorded 1993-1994
Beverly Hills, California, USA
The Record Plant
Los Angeles, California, USA
Los Angeles, California, USA
Genre Industrial rock, electronica Length 6:13 (album version)
6:26 (full-length single version)
Label Nothing/TVT/Interscope (USA)
Writer(s) Trent Reznor Producer Flood and Trent Reznor
mixing engineer: Alan Moulder
Nine Inch Nails singles chronology "March of the Pigs"
"Closer" is a song written by Trent Reznor and featured on the 1994 Nine Inch Nails album The Downward Spiral. In mid-1994, the song was released as the second single from the album. Most versions of the single are titled "Closer to God", a rare example in music of a single's title differing from the title of its A-side. ("Closer to God" is also the title of an alternate version of "Closer" featured on the single.) Labeled "Halo 9", the single is the ninth official release.
Several broadcasting stations felt the song wasn't appropriate to air when uncensored. A promotional single provided by the label to radio stations included both long and short vocal-censored-i.e.: silenced profanity-versions. In spite of the blunt and profane sexual content contained in the song's lyrics, "Closer" became Nine Inch Nails' biggest hit up to that time, cemented Reznor's status as an industrial rock superstar, and remains arguably his best-known song. Heavily edited versions of the song and its equally explicit and provocative Mark Romanek-directed music video received substantial airplay on radio and MTV.
Radio edits of "Closer" were created by muting the vocal track for the duration of each deleted obscenity. In 2003, VH1 ranked the song at number 93 in its countdown of the "100 Greatest Songs Of The Past 25 Years." The song was ranked at the number 2 position on AOL's "69 Sexiest Songs of All Time," mostly due to the explicit frankness of its chorus.
The music video was directed by Mark Romanek and first aired on May 12, 1994, having been filmed in April of that year. It was cut down from its original length to 4:36. The video was popular and helped bolster the success of the band. The video shows events in what appears to be a 19th century-style mad-scientist's laboratory that deals with religion, sexuality, animal cruelty, politics, and terror. It was somewhat controversial due to its imagery, which included a nude bald woman with a crucifix mask, a monkey tied to a cross, a pig's head spinning on some type of machine, a diagram of a vulva, Reznor wearing an S&M mask while swinging in shackles, and of him wearing a ball gag. Several times, Reznor, wearing leather pants, floats and rotates through the air, suspended by invisible wires. There are also scenes of Reznor being blown back by a wind machine while wearing aviator goggles.
These images seem to be inspired by the art of Joel-Peter Witkin, as well as Francis Bacon (artist) and George Tooker. The video is also very heavily inspired by the Brothers Quay film Street of Crocodiles, with much of the video being a live-action recreation of the sets and scenes from that film. For the television version, certain removed scenes were replaced with a title card that read "Scene Missing," and the instances of the word "fuck" being edited out were accompanied by a stop in the video motion, making it appear as if the stop was a result of defective film (this was done to make sure the flow of the song was not affected). The video has a stylized, old-film look due to Reznor purchasing an old canister of unexposed film from the early part of the 20th century to record it on. It is also one of two videos directed by Romanek that the Museum of Modern Art has added to its permanent collection. The other is Madonna's "Bedtime Story".
The unedited version of this video was shown on Playboy TV's music video show Hot Rocks in 1994. In mid-2002, the unedited version of this video was aired on MTV2 as part of a special countdown showcasing the most controversial videos ever to air on MTV. This countdown was only shown late at night due to the graphic imagery of "Closer" and several other videos.
In retrospect, Reznor commented about the video that "The rarest of things occurred: where the song sounded better to me, seeing it with the video. And it's my song."
The unedited video is included in Closure, The Downward Spiral (DualDisc) and Directors Label Volume 4: The Work Of Director Mark Romanek, and it is available for download from iTunes under the band's page. Behind-the-scenes footage with commentary by Romanek is included in Closure (DVD) and Directors Label.
"Closer" had some radio airplay before it was released as a single. This factor increased within weeks, leading Interscope to release the song in May 1994.
When it premiered, the single charted on several Billboard magazine music charts; debuting near the bottom spot of the Billboard Hot 100, it missed the Top 40 spot (peaking at number 41). It crawled to number 11 on the Modern Rock Tracks, and went on to reach number 35 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, number 29 on the Dance Music/Club Play Singles, and number 29 Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales. The single's highest peak is the Top 5 on the Canadian Singles Chart. "Closer" did not top any of these charts, and failed to reach number one.
In the tours following the release of With Teeth, Nine Inch Nails performed a shorter version of "Closer" with the keyboard solo played as a guitar solo and a breakdown incorporating a portion of "The Only Time", a track from Pretty Hate Machine. Two performances of this version of the song this appear on Beside You in Time.
The version of "Closer" on the single is 13 seconds longer than the album version; on the album, the piano tune at the end of the song is abruptly cut off in order to segue into the next track, "Ruiner". On the single, "Closer's" piano and background sounds are allowed to play out longer.
In addition, the U.S. CD single contains five remixes of "Closer", a remix of its fellow The Downward Spiral track "Heresy", an instrumental track "March of the Fuckheads" (unrelated to March of the Pigs), and a cover version of Soft Cell's song "Memorabilia", from their 1982 album Non-stop Ecstatic Dancing. The UK single releases contain the same tracks split between two discs (each sold separately). A cassette single was issued in the U.S. and Australia, pairing "Closer" with a live-performance version of NIN's previous single, "March of the Pigs."
- TVT Records / Interscope Records / Atlantic Records 95905–2
- TVT Records / Interscope Records 0694959052 (Reissue)
- "Closer to God" (Remixed by Trent Reznor, Sean Beavan, Brian Pollack) – 5:05
- "Closer (Precursor)" (Remixed by Coil, Danny Hyde) – 7:16
- "Closer (Deviation)" (Remixed by Jack Dangers, Craig Silvey) – 6:15
- "Heresy (Blind)" (Remixed by Dave Ogilvie, Anthony Valcic, Joe Bisara) – 5:32
- "Memorabilia" – 7:21
- "Closer (Internal)" (Remixed by Bill Kennedy, Scott Humphrey, John "Geetus" Aguto, Paul Decarli, Eric Claudiex) – 4:15
- "March of the Fuckheads" (Remixed by Adrian Sherwood) – 4:43
- "Closer (Further Away)" (Remixed by Kennedy, Humphrey, Aguto, Decarli, Claudiex) – 5:45
- "Closer" – 6:26
U.K. CD - Disc 1: Further Away
- Island Records CID 596 854 059–2
- "Closer" – 6:26
- "Closer (Deviation)" (Remixed by Dangers, Silvey) – 6:15
- "Closer (Further Away)" (Remixed by Kennedy, Humphrey, Aguto, Decarli, Claudiex) – 5:45
- "Closer (Precursor)" (Remixed by Coil, Hyde) – 7:16
- "Closer (Internal)" (Remixed by Kennedy, Humphrey, Aguto, Decarli, Claudiex) – 4:15
U.K. CD - Disc 2: Closer to God
- Island Records CIDX 596 854 061–2 – UK CD 2
- "Closer to God" (Remixed by Reznor, Beavan, Pollack) – 5:05
- "Heresy (Blind)" (Remixed by Ogilvie, Valcic, Bisara) – 5:32
- "Memorabilia" – 7:21
- "March of the Fuckheads" (Remixed by Sherwood) – 4:43
- "Closer" – 6:25
- "March of the Pigs (Live)" – 3:12 (appears to be the live rerecording from the music video)
U.K. 12" vinyl - Part 1: Further Away
- Island Records 12IS 596 854 059–1 – UK 12" Vinyl 1
- "Closer (Deviation)"
- "Closer (Further Away)"
- "Closer (Precursor)"
- "Closer (Internal)"
U.K. 12" vinyl - Part 2: Closer to God
- Island Records 12ISX 596 854 061–1 – UK 12" Vinyl 2
- "Closer to God"
- "March of the Fuckheads"
- "Heresy (Blind)"
Other versions in other formats and countries have the same track listing as the U.S. CD release.
- "Closer" has been covered by many musical acts, including Spiralmouth, MGMT, Blood on the Dance Floor, Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, Eric Gorfain, Maroon 5, Maxwell, The Asylum Street Spankers, and Rosetta Stone.
- 30 Seconds to Mars uses samples from "Closer" when they perform "The Fantasy."
- "Weird Al" Yankovic has paid tribute to "Closer" more than once: in The Alternative Polka on his album Bad Hair Day, a section of the song was used in which the word "fuck" is replaced with a cartoon sound effects. "Germs" on his Running with Scissors album is a style parody of several Nine Inch Nails songs.
- The Asylum Street Spankers occasionally perform a bluegrass version, available at the Live Music Archive.
- In 1995, the novelty act Nine Inch Richards covered the song under the title "Closer To Hogs". Sung in a southern drawl, it combined Trent Reznor's sexually charged lyrics with barnyard animal samples, humorously implying that the song is about bestiality.
- In 2008, Sy Smith performed the song as part of her "Conflict Tour". In August 2010, Smith performed the song again at "Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Heights Plaza".
In popular culture
- The remix "Closer (Precursor)" is featured in the opening credits of the movie Seven. The same version was also used in The Fan.
- Limp Bizkit parodied "Closer" (as well "The Perfect Drug" and "Burn") in their song "Hot Dog". The chorus goes, "You wanna fuck me like an animal, You'd like to burn me on the inside, You like to think that I'm a perfect drug, Just know that nothing you do will bring you closer to me." Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst said he was a big fan of Nine Inch Nails, who inspired his music. However, reviewers have often interpreted the lyrics as negative.
- The 2007 remake of The Hitcher uses the song in the background of a car chase scene.
- Santino Rice sang the song in season 2 of Project Runway as Tim Gunn.
- The first few seconds were used as the intro to Extreme Championship Wrestling's show ECW Hardcore TV. The beats would match each of the letters to the word "Extreme", before the main music kicked in ("Thunder Kiss '65" by White Zombie).
- The song was used in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Lady Heather's Box".
- The song was used in the Cold Case episode "The Hitchhiker".
- Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra have played it a number of times on the Late Show with David Letterman.
- A character on The Cleveland Show sings a few lines of the song in the episode "It's the Great Pancake, Cleveland Brown."
- The song appears as a downloadable track in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock part of the Mega Track Pack.
- ^ http://flacforthemasses.blogspot.com/2011/04/closer-promo-single-nine-inch-nails.html[dead link]
- ^ Greg Rule (April 1994). "Trent Reznor". Keyboard. http://www.9inchnails.com/articles/trent-reznor-keyboard.php. Retrieved 2007-04-25. [dead link]
- ^ Pitchfork Top 200 Tracks of the 90s
- ^ http://www.vh1classic.com/view/playlist/1547027/9480/VH1_Classic_Top_20_Greatest_Music_Videos_Of_All_Time/Closer/index.jhtml
- ^ The Work of Director Mark Romanek DVD
- ^ "The Downward Spiral > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-09-13.
- ^ http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/wavs03/poke.wav&date=2009-10-26+00:06:34
- ^ http://www.morganic.com/Sounds/Cartoons/Bonk.aif
- ^ Running with Scissors | Music Review | Entertainment Weekly
- ^ Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine Review - sputnikmusic
- ^ Internet Archive: Details: Asylum Street Spankers Live at Milestones, on 2005-05-14
- ^ Alona Wartofsky (2000-10-18). "Limp Bizkit, Stuck in Orbit Around Its Star" (fee required). Washington Post. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-556338.html. Retrieved 2008-03-23. ""Hot Dog"... takes on Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor in what Durst has described as a parody of NIN..."
- ^ Interview with Fred Durst by K-Rock New York. 2000.
- ^ Hector Saldana (2000-11-30). "Raw rules with Limp Bizkit" (fee required). San Antonio Express-News: pp. 4F. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=SAEC&p_theme=saec&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EAFE98B29F62335&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- ^ "This tour needs some new anger" (fee required). Telegram & Gazette. 2000-10-24. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=WO&p_theme=wo&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EADE60500AD67D2&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- ^ "CD Reviews New Releases" (fee required). The Hartford Courant. 2000-10-19. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/courant/access/62917297.html?dids=62917297:62917297&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Oct+19%2C+2000&author=&pub=Hartford+Courant&desc=CD+REVIEWS+NEW+RELEASES.
- "Closer" Official music video on YouTube
- Halo 9 at NINCollector
- discogs.com: Closer to God (US CD5")
- discogs.com: Closer to God (US CD5" Re-release)
- discogs.com: Closer to God (US 2x12")
- discogs.com: Closer to God (disc 1) (UK CD5")
- discogs.com: Closer to God (disc 2) (UK CD5")
- discogs.com: Closer to God (disc 1) (UK 12")
- discogs.com: Closer to God (disc 2) (UK 12")
- discogs.com: Closer (UK 2x12")
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