Posts tagged "Nine Inch Nails"

Dear Aspiring Music Pundits: Use Better Numbers, Please

Hey, did you know that Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV was the top-selling digital album on Amazon MP3 last year? You might if you read the music press recently, as people are wont to hail and huzzah Trent Reznor for even so much as taking a Webcam photo of himself these days. Much is being made of the fact that Ghosts, which sold for $5 via Amazon’s online shop, was available for free digitally from Reznor’s Web site yet still topped a retailer’s charts; so much, in fact, that people are concluding that making something free is a path—if not the path—to profitability. Which is a false conclusion for a whole mess of reasons, including, as LostTurntable reminds us in the comments to this very post, the fact that all 36 tracks of the album were never available for “free” in the first place.



Yes,only the first nine tracks of the 36-track album were free when it initially came out; the $5 download price was the same on nin.com and Amazon. So this Reznorian triumph is even less of a big deal than initially thought!

Never mind that “No. 1 on the Amazon MP3 store in 2008″ is a lovely little statistic to throw out in a late-night TV ad, but what does it really mean? Amazon’s lack of hard numbers is pretty telling here—I can tout Never Shout Never’s “Yippee” being No. 1 on this week’s SoundScan singles chart without telling you that if someone else had sold 918 copies, they’d have beaten “Yippee” by a nose—and the fact of the matter is that no matter what Amazon sold, the total’s going to be dwarfed by the Reznor-hawked first-week total of 781,917 “transactions.” There was also the matter of Nine Inch Nails’ site being slammed when Ghosts was released, thus making the Amazon MP3 alternative attractive to the impatient.

Just as important here is the idea of the casual fan, the fan who may not be as plugged in to the Nine Inch Nails Internet universe and thus not aware of, say, all those HD torrents of concert footage released earlier this week. Those of you who lived through the ’90s may remember that Nine Inch Nails was a pretty big band at the time! It’s not much of a stretch to think that there are people out there, even in our hyperconnected hypertechnological age, who don’t live and breathe online and who, thus, might have been surprised when they came across a new release by a band they liked while browsing Amazon for a deal on Super Mario Galaxy.

It’s important to remember that the lack of, or maybe I should say lack of mainstream cultural placement of, promotion given to new releases is constructing a huge blind spot where recently issued product almost doesn’t exist for people outside of the superfan/Internet bubble. Over the past few weeks I’ve had friends express surprise when I mentioned new releases by the likes of AC/DC and Taylor Swift. The AC/DC ignorance I’m writing off because the person in question lives in the Wal-Mart-free backwater of New York City, but Taylor Swift?! Sure, this shouldn’t be all that shocking given free-falling sales numbers and the decimated state of music retail, but it’s a very real problem that hasn’t been addressed during the great roll-up of every piece of inventory into one dusty Wal-Mart aisle. And Reznor’s ability to keep the interest of those casual fans who liked him back when is probably more attributable to his album’s (relative) retail success than any server-crippling distribution schemes.

The Internet keeps putting me in a bad mood [Google Blog Search]

(NB: This post was revised after LostTurntable pointed out the very germane fact regarding Ghosts‘ actual price. I’m a dope for not reading my own damn archives more closely. Get the Dear Abby Wet Noodle out!)

80 ’08 (and Heartbreak): Announcing Idolator’s Year-End Extravaganza

What were the 80 most important musical recordings, artists, trends, events, and performances of 2008? What were the eight things this year that broke our hearts—or, at least, our ears? We’re happy to announce 80 ’08 (and Heartbreak), Idolator’s year-end overview. The list is below the jump.

80. Andrew W.K., “McLaughlin Groove”
79. Elvis Costello puts his trust in Fall Out Boy
78. Wye Oak, “I Want for Nothing”
77. Nine Inch Nails’ flood of digitally distributed music
76. TV on the Radio, “Golden Age”
75. Journey welcomes the Web 2.0 Era (and a new singer) with open arms
74. Jenny Lewis, “Acid Tongue”
73. Radiohead scores the year’s strangest Top 40 hit
72. The Music Tapes at Athens Popfest, August 2008
71. Kanye, Lily, Pete, and Courtney form their own blogger nation
70. French Kicks, Swimming
69. Soundscan: down for the recount
68. Make It Stop! The Most of Ross Johnson
67. Parry Gripp, “Hamster on a Piano (Eating Popcorn)”
66. Okay, Huggable Dust
65. Mariah Carey, “Touch My Body”
64. 360 deals make heads spin
63. Daniel Amos, Darn Floor Big Bite
62. Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours
61. Solange, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams
60. The Numa Numa Dance revival
59. The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound
58. ’90s alt-rock memoirs
57. Larry Norman and Sonseed
56. Sheryl Crow, “Shine Over Babylon”
55. DJ Koze
54. David Cook beats David Archuleta on American Idol
53. T-Pain, Thr33 Ringz
52. Perez Hilton Vs. Sony BMG: slapfight!
51. Justin Moore’s “Back That Thing Up” video
50. Optimo’s mix CDs
49. Extra Golden live at the Caledonia Lounge, Athens, GA, June 2008
48. Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song
47. Daveigh Chase sings “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” on HBO’s Big Love
46. Gnarls Barkley and the Raconteurs race each other to the record store
45. Pete Wentz tries to save the music video with FNMTV
44. R&B’s breakbeat vogue
43. Jobromance!
42. Dennis Wilson, Pacific Ocean Blue (Legacy Edition)
41. Miley Cyrus, “See You Again”
40. Max Martin and Dr. Luke infiltrate rock radio
39. Of Montreal get Skeletal
38. Poplife Presents Poplife Sucks
37. Alec Foege, Right of the Dial and Taylor Clark, Starbucked
36. Major labels fail to kill the single—again
35. Velvet Revolver brings the drama
34. Blake Leyh makes us listen closer to The Wire
33. Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, “Yahhh!”
32. The end of TRL
31. The old-skool rave revival
30. Ida Maria, “Oh My God”
29. Fred Schneider on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
28. CMT’s Can You Duet
27. ’90s reunion fever
26. Estelle makes her way across the ocean
25. John Darnielle’s Master of Reality and Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste
24. Girl Talk, Feed the Animals
23. Santogold, “Lights Out”
22. Summer festival glut
21. Monotonix live in Baltimore
20. James Sullivan, The Hardest Working Man: How James Brown Saved the Soul of America
19. Be Your Own Pet, “Becky”
18. Kanye West’s aesthetics
17. “Vinyl is back!”
16. Global reissues bonanza
15. Beyoncé, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”
14. Rickrolling rolls on
13. M.I.A., “Paper Planes”
12. Alphabeat get “wonky”
11. The year of the remix
10. R. Kelly goes to court
9. Jarvis Cocker at Pitchfork Festival, Chicago, July 2008
8. The Ron Clark Academy, “You Can Vote However You Like”
7. Portishead, Third
6. Prince at Coachella Festival, April 2008
5. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
4. Guitar Hero / Rock Band
3. A very musical Presidential election
2. Lil Wayne: All things to all people
1. Ne-Yo, Year Of The Gentleman

HEARTBREAKS
1. Mamma Mia Misses The Essence Of ABBA (Kate Richardson)
2. The Death of Baltimore Club Music’s Queen, DJ K-Swift (Al Shipley)
3. The blogosphere as the new status quo (Lucas Jensen)
4. Britney Spears on the 2008 MTV VMAs (Molly McAleer)
5. Be Your Own Pet breaks up (Mike Barthel)
6. Everyone in the music business losing their freakin’ jobs (Michaelangelo Matos)
7. Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy (Maura Johnston)
8. John Rich shills for the GOP (Chuck Eddy)

No. 77: Nine Inch Nails’ Flood of Digitally Distributed New Music

In the decade after 1994′s The Downward Spiral made Nine Inch Nails a household name, Trent Reznor cultivated a reputation as a reclusive perfectionist of nearly Chinese Democracy-level procrastination, releasing just one bloated double album, 1999′s The Fragile. And though 2005′s With Teeth hinted at a leaner and more workmanlike model of NIN, nobody could’ve predicted the accelerated pace at which Reznor would begin releasing music after completing his Interscope contract.

In March, the instrumental double album Ghosts I-IV was dropped into the digital ether with no prior announcement, and before that feast could even be digested, a more traditonal NIN album, The Slip, debuted in May. If Ghosts was the for-fans-only indulgence a major label never would have approved, then The Slip is the humble, concise 40-minute album Reznor never would have let himself make while he was Interscope’s cash cow. And both albums benefit from a wider variety of instrumental textures and clearer production aesthetic than 2007′s sonically muddy and conceptually overloaded Year Zero.

Much hand-wringing can be done about whether Rezor followed “the Radiohead model” or if he improved upon it. But it remains remarkable that an artist long thought past his prime was able to make his music better, cheaper, more plentiful and more profitable in one fell swoop.

80 ’08 (And Heartbreak)

So, how does the currently in vogue “bands will make all of their money on the road” model work in a time of economic uncertainty? Perhaps we should ask Trent Reznor, who many people have held up as a paragon of “making it work” in the current “paying for records”-averse climate, and whose recent show in Columbus was marked by the arena’s top tier being roped off and tickets being discounted to $17 at the last minute. (I’m sure some Pangloss 2.0 out there will swoop in and tell me that there’s a good reason for this, or that he’s making it up in merch or something, but really, if the top-tier bands are booking shows in places where they have to engage in last-minute price-slashing, what does it mean for everyone else?) [DoneWaiting]

Seven Affordable Halloween Costumes Culled From Seven Great Music Videos

Halloween is only four days away! Although the fun is rapidly being sucked from the whole holiday thanks to church-sponsored “Harvest Festivals” and the jackass who thinks a “FBI: Female Body Inspector” t-shirt is a costume, we hope to help you, the reader, inject a bit more excitement into the celebration with some costume ideas from your favorite music videos.



7. Van Halen, “Hot For Teacher”


Fast forward (or the internet equivalent) to 2:14. See those orange suits? Wearing one of those says “I’m classy, but totally ready to party.” You can thank me later.

6. Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer”


“Sledgehammer” isn’t just a groundbreaking video, it’s an endless source of costume ideas that you’ll be forced to explain to people all night long. Train track around your neck? Hilarious! Guy with clay hammers for hands? Edgy! Peter Gabriel made out of fruit? Possibly too difficult.

5. Big & Rich, “Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy”


Country music seems like a wealth of costume ideas (who wouldn’t be impressed by your “Waylon Jennings In The ’70s” costume?), although you may want to figure out your friends’ political sensitivities before dressing up like John Rich.

4. Nine Inch Nails, “Only”


A costume should really be graded on a creativity to price ratio. Anyone can spend a ton of money and have an exceptional costume. The guy who buys one of those pin toys from Target and goes as Trent Reznor from the “Only” video is frugal and, as a bonus, appears to be in touch with his emotions.

3. B-Rock, “My Baby Daddy”


Can you rustle up an old cell phone, a fancy hat, and a sweatshirt from the ’90s? Then you can be T-Bird from the “My Baby Daddy” video, and you can thank me later.

2. R.E.M., “Pop Song 89″


Of course, if the whole process of choosing a costume ends up being too stressful, you can always just put some large black stripes on your pants, take your shirt off, and move your body around like it’s “Pop Song 89.” (Ladies might want to splurge for some black oaktag, too.) Not the most relevant of costumes, but hey, it’s affordable.

1. L’Trimm, “Cars With The Boom



I haven’t provided many options for the ladies, but I think this suggestion makes up for it. Find yourself a friend, hit up Forever 21 and Claire’s with a sharp eye, and you have yourself Tigra and Bunny costumes. Who doesn’t enjoy the cars that go boom? (Note: This costume might go over better in the greater Miami area.)

Although I can’t imagine anyone needing an idea other than the ones I’ve provided, feel free to offer your music video derived suggestions in the comments.

Trent Reznor Taps His Way Into Your iPhones

Trent Reznor will soon offer up a Nine Inch Nails edition of the iPhone/iPod Touch rhythm game Tap Tap Revenge. His version will not be free, though $4.99 is not exactly a king’s ransom for the pleasure of tapping along to the 7/8 beat on “March of the Pigs”… oh, wait! The tracks will only come from Nine Inch Nails’ last two records. The game will also feature a NiN theme, which means that we can expect lots of primary colors, happy clouds, and chirping bug-eyed animals. Reznor really is to be commended to be one of the more “with it” artists out there from a business perspective. The guy sees an opportunity to make money and delight his fairly obsessive fans, and he goes for it. Dude needs to have a talk with Angus Young. [Macworld]

Zack De La Rocha Comes Out Of Hiding

Many people find it hard to tell the great from the godawful when it comes to 21st-century mainstream rock. To help figure out which is which, here’s “Corporate Rock Still Sells,” where Al Shipley examines what’s good, bad, and ugly in the world of rock and roll. This time around, he looks at new singles from Rage Against The Machine’s frontman, a ’90s one-hit wonder, and Metallica:



He may not be quite up there in the annals of procrastination legend with Axl Rose or Dr. Dre, but one of rock’s biggest holdouts in recent memory, Rage Against The Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha, put a product on retail shelves this summer after a long wait. In the seven years between his band’s breakup and its recent reunion, de la Rocha reportedly worked on solo material with everyone from Trent Reznor to ?uestlove to DJ Shadow without ever releasing an album, or even anything other than a stray compilation track. So it’s a little unexpected that now, after Rage has been back together and touring for a year, is when de la Rocha decides to release new music with a new band.

One Day As A Lion, de la Rocha’s project with ex-Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore, released a self-titled EP over the summer, and the single “Wild International” has spent the last 8 weeks in the lower reaches of the Modern Rock chart, peaking at No. 20. When I first heard the song and thought it was a surprise new Rage single, I was impressed, and when I realized it wasn’t, I was even more impressed. The keyboards de la Rocha plays on the song may not be as inventively skronky as Tom Morello’s guitar playing, but they’re pretty damn close. de la Rocha seems to be focusing less on the rapping element of his vocals, which I appreciate, having never been a fan of the guy’s rhymes.

Now that de la Rocha’s ripped off the Band-Aid–and announced that there’s a One Day full-length on the way–the question remains whether or not he’ll continue to work on solo and side projects, and allow the Rage reunion to function as only a touring unit. Rage slowly grew into the fanbase that still clamors for them today, if their reception on the festival circuit last year was any indication, and they currently occupy a place in the alt-rock firmament. Singles like “Killing In The Name” and “Down Rodeo,” which never appeared on the Modern Rock chart when they were initially released, till get significant airplay today. And though their rap-metal style may sound somewhat dated to younger rock fans, one thing is clear: In a year that acts like the Flobots, Rise Against, and M.I.A. are scoring Modern Rock hits left and right, nothing is too stridently leftist and vaguely “revolutionary” for alternative radio.

Speaking of seven-year sabbaticals, remember the Toadies? Fourteen years ago, “Possum Kingdom” made them, in my opinion, one of the finest one-hit wonders of ’90s rock radio. But their quite good debut Rubberneck failed to yield any other big hits, and they took seven years to follow up that album in 2001, and another seven to deliver their third, No Deliverance. Though “Possum Kingdom” peaked at No. 4 on the Modern Rock chart and No. 9 on Mainstream Rock, the three Toadies singles that have charted since then have all done better on the Mainstream side. That includes the title track of their new album, which debuts at No. 39 this week. The nervous, punky sound of Rubberneck always led me to categorize the Texas band as more of an alt-rock act, but the southern-rock swing on “No Deliverance” leads me to believe differently:

There’s perhaps no better way to illustrate the increasingly blurred line between alternative and active rock radio playlists than the career of Metallica. The band have been mainstays on the Mainstream Rock chart ever since 1991′s self-titled “black album” made them household names. But back then, “metal” was pretty much a dirty word on the Modern Rock chart, which was still populated by dad-rock acts like Sting and Elvis Costello and just getting its first taste of grungy hard rock. Metallica’s first minor dent on the Modern Rock chart didn’t come until 1996′s “Until It Sleeps,” which coincided with the band outraging the headbanging faithful and earning derision from the alt-rock world by shearing their hockey hair and headlining Lollapalooza. “Sleeps” only peaked at No. 27, and none of the other Load or ReLoad singles charted on Modern Rock.

But alternative radio continued to skew more metal-friendly while Metallica released no new albums, but continued to flood the market with various stopgap projects. Those one-offs–Garage Inc., S&M, and the Mission: Impossible II soundtrack–helped the band chip away at alt-rock resistance, as did 2003′s infamous shit sandwich St. Anger. Still, the band never cracked the Modern Rock top 10 until this month, with Death Magnetic‘s also totally awful lead single “The Day That Never Comes” currently sitting at No. 7. The song reached No. 1 in its third week on the Mainstream chart, but I’ll be very curiously watching how far it climbs on the other chart. And changing whatever station plays the song while I’m tuned in.

Speaking of flipping radio dials, right before Labor Day, Idolator’s Chris Molanphy declared Modern Rock “the most boring chart of the summer” thanks to its week-to-week stasis and overall lack of new blood. I more or less predicted this stasis back in May. But I have to admit, I’m a little impressed by how three of the four bands I singled out back then have absolutely dominated the chart: Weezer and Coldplay both topped the chart, while the Offspring scored two Top Five hits. And just as I suspected, Nine Inch Nails was the underperformer of the bunch, peaking at No. 6 and dropping off the chart completely in the same time frame that “Pork & Beans” clung to the top 10. It’s possible that “Discipline” simply didn’t connect with listeners in the same way that previous NIN hits did, but the fact that it was the band’s first single since divorcing from Interscope does make me wonder how well it might have done with major-label promotional muscle behind it.

Which Alt-Rock Classics Do We Hate Most?

Earlier today, the R&B blog SoulBounce came up with an idea we’re kicking ourselves for not having come up with first: the editors’ and their friends’ (and their comments box’s) choices for the “Universally-Adored Soul Classic That [They] Hate.” (Funniest moment: site editor nOvaMatic’s dis of Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go,” one of two: “My god, is this song potato salad? Must it be at every Black gathering?” Funny it appears here so soon after they named it one of the all-time greatest soul songs, but then nOva didn’t write that one.) We like this idea so much that we’ve decided to rip it off, using a different category. After the jump, we’ll will pick our Universally Adored (or so it seems) Alt-Rock Classics We Hate.

Michaelangelo Matos: I have never understood the appeal of Nine Inch Nails. Oh wait, yes I have, because I was 12 once. That’s about the time where you need to leave the pettier of your emotions at the door, but no one told Trent Reznor, and he’s made a mountain of cash from them. “Closer” is one of those records I gave up actively hating a long time ago simply because you can’t fight anything that ubiquitous without expending more energy than it’s worth, but dear god what an awful song. I’m glad everyone got their little getting-away-with-saying-fuck-tee-hee buzz, but do we need to be repeatedly subjected to this insufferable plod all these years later?

Maura Johnston: I’ll rep for Nirvana, sure. Hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the first time was revelatory, their “worst live show” ever that I saw in Chicago in the early ’90s was gut-wrenching, and much of Nevermind still packs a punch today. But I’ll never understand why “Come As You Are” has stood the test of time as it has–with its moaning vocals and plodding rhythm, it damn near provided the template for every third-rate alt-rock band that flooded the airwaves in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. You’d think “In Bloom” would have been the non-”Spirit” track that kept getting spins, but I guess people weren’t comfortable with wondering if they could have been the people who knew not what Cobain’s cryptic lyrics meant.

Dan Gibson: Somehow, waiting for a new Stone Roses album for five years performed some trickery on my mind during the interval as I waited like everyone else for the band’s escape from a label imposed exile. I idolized the Stone Roses, forgetting that I didn’t really enjoy the act’s most famous song, “Fool’s Gold”. Still, the track comes up on nearly every Brit list of essential tracks, while I sit on the sideline muttering something about the genius of Shaun Ryder.

What’s yours? Answers, as always, in the comments.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Name a Universally-Adored Soul Classic That You Hate [SoulBounce]

Trent Reznor’s Aching Throat Forces Nine Inch Nails To Postpone Another Show

AP080726019724.jpgNine Inch Nails has postponed tonight’s show in Worcester, Mass., because Trent Reznor has been suffering from a “recurrent throat ailment,” the second time in a week that said illness has resulted in a last-minute rescheduling. (Saturday’s show at the Target Center in Minneapolis was rescheduled to late November; the band’s US tour opened on July 26.) “Just want to personally say how sorry I am to have to do this. I never take postponing a show lightly and if there were any possible way I could pull this off I would. This is a very frustrating and maddening situation for me and I appreciate your understanding. I’ll make it up to you,” Reznor said on his official site. Here’s hoping he isn’t going the “pay what you like” route for his health insurance… [nin.com]

Nine Inch Nails To Give Away 200,000 CDs Of “The Slip”… For Money

The Slip, Nine Inch Nails’ digital album that only cost an e-mail address, will now be available for purchase as a limited-edition Digipak with a DVD and a big neato booklet full of shiny pictures. Dude, Trent, you know the cool thing to do would be to just give all of this away. That would show your fans on the free music forefront that you truly stand for freedom, and provide a positive example for them when they discover that no one wants to pay them for what they do either. You’ll also be able to hear this ProTools epic on vinyl, the amount of copies of which will only be limited by those who think this rather digital recording is best heard in a pure analog state. And the MP3s? Free forever, baby! The future is now!

The appearance of a free MP3 album in the physical marketplace has Coolfer getting a little snippy at folks who would declare the CD dead.

Proving the CD is just more pointless than ever, Nine Inch Nails frontman will release The Slip in the dead format via RED Distribution. The title will arrive to no fanfare on July 22.

This all makes perfect sense. The CD is dead. Has been for years. The old business model is dead. Has been for years. There are no record stores left. Haven’t been for years. The price of recorded music will drop to zero. It has to. Or so I read.

To be fair, TechCrunch acknowledged the potential for “limited edition physical copies of music,” which is exactly what form The Slip is proposed to take. This release isn’t really a sign of Reznor backing off, just giving his most hardcore fans something new to cuddle.

NIN’s ‘The Slip’ Hitting Retail July 22 [Billboard]
Reznor To Release Album In Dead Format [Coolfer]