Eight stunning covers of Nine Inch Nails as we welcome them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Last weekend was a seminal moment for industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails as they were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 31 years after the release of their debut album Pretty Hate Machine. Iggy Pop was the artist chosen to induct this unique band and, in honour of this momentous occasion, Amazon Music unveiled two stunning covers; Jehnny Beth on Closer and St. Vincent on Piggy.
Nine Inch Nails at Aerodrome Festival 2018 / Photo Credit: Ondrej Hajek/Czech News Agency/PA Images
1. Hurt - Johnny Cash
The most famous Nine Inch Nails cover of all time, country star Johnny Cash did so well with this alternative choice of cover that many incorrectly attribute him as the original artist. Though, frankly, frontman Trent Reznor was so impressed with it that this is unlikely to have bothered him. Cash's version appeared on his iconic 2003 album American IV: The Man Comes Around, which was his last before his death.
2. Head Like a Hole - Miley Cyrus
Arguably one of the most controversial things to happen to Nine Inch Nails in their 30-year career was when Miley Cyrus recorded a bubblegum-pop version of this song called I'm on a Roll. But, don't worry, it was all part of her character in the 2019 Black Mirror episode Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too where she played a popstar named Ashley O who would go on to reinvent herself after years of being creatively restricted by her managers. She ended the episode with a true cover of the track, with the original lyrics reflecting everything her character had been through.
3. The Perfect Drug - Die Krupps/DKAY.com
Following the initial split of Die Krupps in 1997, frontman Jürgen Engler formed DKay.com. Alongside two albums in the early 2000s, they released a cover of Nine Inch Nails' song The Perfect Drug (from the David Lynch film Lost Highway) which would feature on the industrial tribute album Covered in Nails: A Tribute to Nine Inch Nails. It turned out to be one of DKay.com's most popular releases.
4. Linkin Park - Wish
During a performance at Germany's Rock Am Ring in 2004, Linkin Park treated fans to a vibrant cover of Wish; a song from Nine Inch Nails' Broken EP and which won them their first Grammy (Best Metal Performance) in 1992. Needless to say, this rendition hits a lot harder since Chester Bennington's death in 2017.
5. Copy Of A - Diane Birch
It's always fascinating to hear a cover of a heavy rock track in a very much softer genre. American singer-songwriter Diane Birch did a version of one of the most underrated NIN songs - Copy of A from 2013's Hesitation Marks - in 2014, transforming it in a piano ballad and losing none of the despondency of the original. It's worth noting that Birch recorded a whole EP of post-punk covers with the Phenomenal Handclap Band: 2010's The Velveteen Age, which transformed these melancholy, gothic tracks to neo-soul dancefloor numbers. But we are kind of glad she didn't go in that direction for this particular track.
6. Something I Can Never Have - Kite Base
Bassist duo Kite Base (who are Ayse Hassan from Savages and Kendra Frost) wowed us when they dropped a live recording of Something I Can Never Have from NIN's Pretty Hate Machine. It's minimal, though carefully layered and still very much in keeping with that late 80s, early 90s feel. We're pretty sure they could cover that entire album with perfection.
7. Closer - Jehnny Beth
French singer-songwriter Jehnny Beth (also from Savages, incidentally) paid tribute to a band that has obviously influenced her sound over the years with a brave cover of possibly the most overplayed Nine Inch Nails song of all time: the gritty AF Closer. This year Jehnny also dropped her debut solo album To Love Is to Live, on which she also teamed up with NIN's Atticus Ross as well as the band's former producer Flood.
8. Piggy - St. Vincent
St. Vincent, meanwhile, was joined by Dave Grohl for this quirky cover. Piggy featured on 1994's The Downward Spiral, and the singer had a lot to say about it when it come to working on her own version.
"When I took this song apart to cover it, it took me a long time to really understand the immensity of the groove", St. Vincent said of the song. "It’s a dark, industrial reggae. Muscular, but never as distorted as you imagined it when you think of it in your head."
There's no doubt that Nine Inch Nails are an inspirational band, but we explored some of their own, darker influences in Music and Murder: How Charles Manson inspired a generation of musicians.