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|"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|
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)
4:24 (Music video)
|Producer||Flood and Trent Reznor
mixing engineer: Alan Moulder
|Nine Inch Nails singles chronology|
"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.
||This section may contain original research. (January 2010)|
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 infamous 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. Its imagery was controversial and included:
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 animated short 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 supposedly 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" didn't 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 EP 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."
Other versions in other formats and countries have the same track listing as the U.S. CD release.
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