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10 Best Nine Inch Nails Music Videos

Theo Wargo, Getty Images

Nine Inch Nails have always found ways to expertly mix visual mediums with their songs, so it’s no surprise that they have made some memorable music videos over the years.

Many of their clips indulge in a heightened sense of reality, the world seen from a perspective most people wouldn’t dare to imagine. Colors are brightened, accentuated, or at times removed all together. Themes of sexuality, violence, and perversion can be found throughout many of the videos. Social taboos that most other artists would be scared to embrace are brought to the forefront. The results can sometimes be hard to watch, but there’s no denying their prolific power. After pouring through the band’s many artistic pieces, Noisecreep has assembled what we believe to be the 10 Best Nine Inch Nails Videos.


10

'Head Like a Hole'

Directed by: Eric Zimmerman
 
 

The video that introduced most people to Nine Inch Nails kicks off this list. This Eric Zimmerman-directed promo for 'Head Like a Hole' was crucial in the band's early success. Blending intercutting images of a tribal dancer, mechanical models of a head and assorted film negatives, this video needed repeat viewings to grasp the full picture. Add in a blistering performance from the band in a 'Matrix' like studio and Trent Reznor eventually performing while suspended in air from his legs and this is easily one of the band's most memorable clips.

 
9

'Deep'

Directed by: Enda McCallion
 
 

'Deep' was recorded for the 'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider' soundtrack, but never made it onto an official Nine Inch Nails album. That didn’t stop Trent Reznor and company from filming a video that’s both colorful and twisted. A robbery, a car crash and gallons of paint are just some of the eye catching visuals used throughout this stylized piece. The narrative is told in reverse order, leaving the viewer to patch the story together over the course of the video.

 
8

'Into the Void'

Directed by: Walter Stern and Jeff Richter
 
 

‘Into the Void’ makes our list of the 10 Best Nine Inch Nails videos because it is the perfect clip for fans who want to get up close and personal with Trent Reznor. The singer’s eyeballs, pores and hair follicles are magnified to extreme detail. As each body part pulls and moves, they take on a strange life of their own. Indeed, one almost forgets that each item is merely a cog that makes up the man. The finale of the clip shows the whole band performing in a red room. However, given the subject matter up until that point, it’d be easy to believe they were inside a heart.

 
7

'Wish'

Directed by: Peter Christopherson
 
 

Was your mother scared to let you listen to Nine Inch Nails? The video for 'Wish' represents all of her biggest fears. Like something out of a post-apocalyptic nightmare, the band, clad in leather, performs inside of a giant cage. Hordes of angry men scale its sides, while others remain on the ground, grabbing at the band as they play. The whole thing is violent, aggressive, and raw; everything that made Nine Inch Nails so eye-opening early in their career.

 
6

'Survivalism'

Directed by: Alex Lieu, Rob Sheridan and Trent Reznor
 
 

The 'Year Zero' album saw Nine Inch Nails dive head first into the world of American politics, with Trent Reznor openly criticizing then president George W. Bush. Big brother paranoia was taken to the extreme in the ‘Survivalism’ video. The clip looks over a console of security cameras, each invading the privacy of occupants living within the same apartment complex (including the band performing in one of the rooms). A SWAT team armed with machine guns infiltrates the building and breaks up the order of daily life. It's the perfect balance of suspense and substance.

 
5

'We're in This Together'

Directed by: Mark Pellington
 
 

Trent Reznor has never been one to blend in, which is why seeing him get absorbed by the masses creates such a strange feeling. Shot entirely in black and white, ‘We’re in This Together’ is a video with more questions than answers. Why are all of these men trying to escape? What is Reznor running towards? And, most importantly, why can’t we stop watching this video? Until we get some answers, ‘We’re in This Together’ gets a spot right in the middle of our list of 10 Best Nine Inch Nails Videos.

 
4

'Only'

Directed by: David Fincher
 
 

Sometimes having an award-winning director on your side really helps take a music video to another level. That was the case for ‘Only’ as David Fincher stepped behind the camera to create a visually engrossing clip (Fincher and Reznor would later work together on 'The Social Network' and 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'). The sterile environment of the modern office space has never looked so edgy, as Trent Reznor performs via pin art sitting on a desk. Next time your boss starts bugging you about TPS reports, throw on your headphones and give this a watch.

 
3

'Starf---ers, Inc.'

Directed by: Robert Hales and Marilyn Manson
 
 

Hollywood, celebrity and a handful of music’s best known faces get attacked in the hauntingly twisted 'Starf---ers, Inc.' video.  An abandoned carnival is where Reznor does most of his damage, throwing baseballs at several celebrity images before dunking an Oscar-holding cross dresser in a dunk tank. Marilyn Manson co-directed this video and he makes a memorable and fairly disturbing cameo.

 
2

'The Perfect Drug'

Directed by: Mark Romanek
 
 

Like falling into an absinthe induced dream, ‘The Perfect Drug’ takes viewers into the dark recesses of their mind. Vultures, Edwardian costumes and a giant hand sculpture are just some of the visual elements weaved within the video’s warped fantasy. ‘The Perfect Drug’ stays with you long after the final frame, making it an easy inclusion in our list of 10 Best Nine Inch Nails Videos.

 
1

'Closer'

Directed by: Mark Romanek
 
 

It’s impossible to overstate the effect of ‘Closer’ on both a musical and cultural level. The quality of the song would have ensured it would be a hit, but the video took the success to another level. Controversial and dark, people argued over its content versus artistic merit. Some grappled with its religious imagery, others were turned off by its perceived sexual perversions. Whatever side you fell on, there was no way to avoid talking about this promo. Thus, it should come as no surprise that ‘Closer’ is our choice for the best Nine Inch Nails video.

 

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