"Head Like a Hole" is a song by the American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. A song influenced by industrial metal group Ministry, it was released as the second single from the group's debut album Pretty Hate Machine. The song received an almost overwhelmingly positive response from critics, and has been noted as one of the most popular tracks from the album.
"Head Like a Hole" nearly charted on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at 9th on the Bubbling Under chart while faring better on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart peaking at 28th. It enjoyed heavy rotation on the radio at the time. It has also been covered by new wave band Devo, Christian rock band Showbread, indie rock band Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, punk rock band AFI and nu metal band Korn.
Trent Reznor wrote "Head Like a Hole" in 1988, after touring with Skinny Puppy. Flood, Adrian Sherwood, and Keith LeBlanc were co-producers of the song, and it was recorded in 1989. "Head Like a Hole" was one of the last songs completed for the album, since Flood did not arrive to the studio until the completion of Depeche Mode's Violator (1990).
"Head Like a Hole" has been classified as an industrial rock and electronic rock song. Also recognized as an "industrial dance anthem," it takes its influence from Ministry, as well as the thrash metal genre. The tempo is 115 BPM, and it is played in the key of E.
The chords of this song are similar to the project's debut single, "Down in It". In contrast to "Down in It", "Head Like a Hole" has a longer intro, lasts roughly one minute longer (the song is five minutes long in its aggregate length), is heavy metal music-oriented, and has no rapping. "Head Like a Hole" is also the opening track on Nine Inch Nails' 1989 debut, and is one of the two Nine Inch Nails songs produced by Flood to appear on Pretty Hate Machine, as seen in the album booklet's liner notes.
A well-known line in the song, "you're going to get what you deserve", is a recurring element in a number of Trent Reznor-written songs, both in same and altered forms. For example, in the ninth track of 2007's Year Zero, "Meet Your Master", the first verse ends with the same line, quickly before the chorus begins.
A music video was made for the "Clay" remix of this song. Directed by Eric Zimmerman, it was released in March 1990 and again later in 1997 on the Closure VHS. The video became popular on MTV and helped fuel NIN's early success. A slightly different edit of the video was also released for Flood's remix of the song, which is 17 seconds shorter than the "Clay" remix. The video features band members Trent Reznor, Richard Patrick, and Chris Vrenna, as well as guest drummer Martin Atkins performing in a cage.
The video was filmed at the Exit nightclub which was located at 1653 North Wells Street in Chicago.
The video begins with black and white footage of a person hopping on one foot while spinning a staff which fades in and out against a background of blurred colors. Clips of Reznor putting his head in a bucket of water, and an off-screen person using the same bucket to make Reznor wet, were taken by a video camera before filming a performance of the song from Nine Inch Nails as a live band.
The guitar Reznor uses in the video is a Jackson Dinky. It is first seen in first chorus, when Reznor, appearing to be dirty like the other band members (he had long hair and wore gritty clothing during production), bangs his head twice while singing the song. He does not use the guitar for the climax of the video, where wires tied to him slowly pull him up, leaving the frontman spinning upsidedown insanely. At the same scene, Vrenna destroys his drum kit by throwing a bass drum of Atkins' drum kit towards the object. At a shot occurring prior to that point, broken Zildjian cymbals and a drum machine can be seen as parts of Vrenna's kit.
There are images that are shown for a few frames like "HEAD", "16 SOUND START", "S M P T E UNIVERSAL LEADER" and "PICTURE". Other images included a white dot set against a black background, a mirrored presentation showing the words "REEL № PROD № PLAY DATE" colored in yellow, one with the words "PICTURE START", and a frame consisting of "C C F F" placed near an outlined ring. The latter screen had an alternative version that was accompanied by a white number 3, also seen in the video. There are also visuals of four incomplete rotating mechanical models of human heads; one with film stills, another with a modified motherboard and other technology, the purple, wired, head with a blue screen showing an eye and various computer hardware, and the last containing blue skin, orange-pupil eyes, and a lightbulb. The former two were filmed in black and white, while the latter two in full color. All four are shown intercut with shots of people spinning baseball bats. File Hashes
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