Can Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor sing like David Bowie? ‘Song Exploder’ explores his dream-come-true performance
'I couldn't believe it was real. It really felt like how much better does it get than this? Being able to stand on stage next to that guy, you know, who's my hero,' said Reznor
Two months after the first season of ‘Song Exploder’ premiered on Netflix, the streaming giant has now dropped the second edition of the music-breakdown series. The first season saw artists like Ty Dolla $ign, ‘Hamilton’ star Lin Manuel Miranda, Alicia Keys and the rock band, R.E.M, breaking down one of their best works. In the second season, we will see host Hrishikesh Hirway reprising his role and speaking to artists like Dua Lipa, Nine Inch Nails, Latin artist Natalia Lafourcade and American rock band The Killers.
In the third episode of the second season, Hrishikesh Hirway sits with the frontman of the legendary industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, where the latter sheds light on various aspects of the biggest hit of his career, ‘Hurt’, from his 1994 chart-topping album, ‘The Downward Spiral.’ For the unversed, ‘Hurt’ received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Song in 1996.
During the breakdown of his hit single, Hirway plays the very original demo of ‘Hurt’, which is a piano melody along with the whispering vocals of Reznor. While talking about the emotions and the concept behind the song, the record producer spills the beans on how badly he wanted to sing it like David Bowie.
Speaking on the same lines, Reznor tells the host, “I am out of tune a lot. I am singing it extremely quiet. I'd guess that would have come after a number of frustrating takes of it feeling too sung and less emotional. That's me trying to sound quiet and sincere. Just feeling the weird shame and exposure of showing something intimate to the world but it wasn't coming across right.” He adds, “And, I remember being frustrated that I wish I could sing like Bowie (David). I wish I had that instrument, you know. I wanted it to feel less accessible. I needed to kind of hide inside the music. And, I figured I am producing it so turn the vocal down, you know."
As we all know, Trent Reznor’s ‘Hurt’ proved to be such a hit that even music legend Johhny Cash covered it in 2002 which also went multi-platinum. As luck had it, the Nine Inch Nails frontman soon got his wish fulfilled as he opened for David Bowie’s 1995 The Outside Tour where Bowie and Reznor both performed the latter’s award-winning song ‘Hurt.’ Speaking of the same, he reveals in ‘Song Exploder’s episode, “I couldn't believe it was real. It really felt like how much better does it get than this? Being able to stand on stage next to that guy, you know, who's my hero. That voice is singing this beautiful harmony with that song I wrote in my bedroom was mind-blowing.”
The Hrishikesh Hirway-created podcast, which originally started back in 2014, got picked up by Netflix and turned into a docuseries. It sticks to the original pattern which includes artists deconstructing their most popular or newly-made composition into its component parts. The viewers also get to see the in-depth interviews, archival footage and raw recordings as each artiste breaks down their hit song, layer by layer, and gives an intimate insight into the personal inspiration behind the music and lyrics.