Pros: Production, Atmosphere, Lyrical Themes, Remixes, & Performance.
Cons: Very Short & Doesn't Offer Much Towards Casual Audiences.
The 1994 to 1997 period of The Downward Spiral marked the most successful period of Trent Reznor’s career with his band Nine Inch Nails. After the release of Closure in November of ’97, Reznor began a new chapter in the NIN story by returning to work full-time on his next album The Fragile. While the Fragility period of 1998 to 2002 was an era that helped pushed Reznor’s creativity to new heights, it would also be his most difficult period as music trends began to change and record labels merged into one huge record label. There, Trent Reznor as an artist with respect and integrity must face the world of commerce and TRL.
Reznor and producer Alan Moulder worked on the album relentlessly from late 1997 to mid-1999 as the era of Alternative Rock had died and a new era filled with rap-metal bands from Korn, Deftones, and Kid Rock to the teen-pop stars of the Backstreet Boys, ‘Nsync, and Britney Spears. Music fans waited for the album’s release that was slated for the fall of 1998 but history repeated itself when Reznor failed to make the deadline and pushed the album further which ended up to be released in the fall of 1999. As 1999 began, record labels started to merge and drop artists who didn’t sell any huge records or haven’t sold any big records while keeping those who can and the Universal-Polygram merger of 1999 would have an affect for NIN later on after the release of The Fragile.
Finally in mid-July of 1999, NIN fans have finally got what they waited for, new music from Trent Reznor and his cohorts, which came in as a single for the song The Day The World Went Away. The Day The World Went Away single is a preview of sorts on what to expect from the upcoming NIN album The Fragile but really the preview was only short since it only contained two tracks from the twenty-three track double-album. While the single contained two new NIN songs, it also contained a remix of The Day The World Went Away song and another remix that appeared in the 12-inch vinyl version. Although the single was merely a teaser for NIN fans, it proved to be a powerful statement on what is to come from NIN.
The first track off the single is the song The Day The World Went Away. Where most NIN songs in the past featured blasting synthesizers, loud drums, and thrashing guitars, The Day The World Went Away features none of that. Instead, the song has no drum or percussion beats. The song is mainly led by an ominous and brooding synthesizer background that leads the track along with a metal-driven guitar tracks that are taken at a minimalist approach rather than a brutal and abrasive approach that was often done by NIN. After a minute-and-a-half, the song goes into an atmospheric musical background with the bass accompany Reznor’s bleak lyrics of the world that now seems relevant in this post-9/11/01 world where Reznor sings “I’d listen to the words he’d say/But in his voice, I heard decay/The plastic face forced to portray/All the insides left cold and gray/There is a place that still remains/It eats the fear, it eats the pain/The sweetest price he’ll have to pay/The day the whole world went away” and after Reznor finishes singing the song, a brief ukulele strum comes to make the sound imperfect as if it had already fallen apart. Then the droning guitar and synthesizer tracks return as Reznor and a group of female singers known as the Buddha Debutante Choir sing a slow but ominous choir of “Na Na Nah/Na Na Na, Nah” to give the song a mood of despair and a sense of death as if you’re in Ground Zero in New York City.
The next song is definitely an old-school blast of industrial rock from NIN known as Starf*ckers, Inc.. When it came out to the public for the first time, many thought the song was about Reznor’s protégé Marilyn Manson who by that time was a well-known rock superstar and had recently caused some controversy over the school shootings in Littleton, Colorado where a couple of kids who were supposedly Marilyn Manson fans (they weren’t, they thought he was lame) shot a bunch of students and then themselves. When the song for Starf*ckers, Inc. came out and people thought it was about Manson, some felt Reznor wrote the song after some things Manson wrote in his 1998 biography with Neil Strauss The Long Road Out of Hell that angered Reznor. Reznor later clarified that the song wasn’t just about Manson but the idea of celebrity and its shallowness that had already got a hold of Manson and for a brief time, Reznor himself.
The song co-written with NIN keyboardist/programmer Charlie Clouser features fast-paced drum machine tracks accompanying Reznor’s blistering lyrics of “My god sits in the back of the limousine/My god comes in a wrapper of cellophane/My god pouts on the cover of the magazine/My god’s a shallow little b*tch trying to make the scene”. Reznor goes further with his lyrics of anti-celebrity with “I have arrived and this time you should believe the hype/I listened to everyone now I know that everyone was right/I’ll be there for you as long as it works for me/I play a game, it’s called insincerity” that leads to its powerful and rocking chorus of “Starf*ckers, starf*ckers, starf*ckers, inc., starf*ckers” where it features a choir of men called the Buddha Boys Choir along with blistering guitars and powerful drums. Reznor sings further about the world of celebrity and its chorus where in the near-end of the song, Reznor sings the lyrics of Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain where he sings “You’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you/Don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t you?” where it leads into a powerful end that featured a sample of the Kiss song Shout It Out Loud where Paul Stanley says “Good night, Whoo”.
The next track is a interpretation of The Day The World Went Away titled (Quiet) that starts off with Reznor singing the “Na Na Na, Nah” parts with a soft atmospheric production background accompanying him along with backing vocals from Kim Prevost and the Buddha Debutante Choir for about a minute that then leads into a quiet but soothing piano track from Reznor backed by the atmospheric productions in the background. Reznor then sings the song with just him and his piano until a soft and atmospheric background comes in after he finishes singing along with a soft bass and acoustic guitar background comes in to the end of the track.
There’s another mix of the song that not only appears in the 12-inch vinyl version of The Day The World Went Away but in the imported 3-disc We’re In This Together single that was released in late 1999. The remix by Porter Ricks features a rhythmic bass-beat track that accompanies a distorted but soft vocals from Reznor for about a minute until layers of distorted drum machine tracks come in as Reznor whispers the lyrics of the song. In the second minute, a distorted but soft guitar drone comes in as if there was a soft chainsaw in the background along with an ominous but quiet synthesizer track comes in throughout the rest of the track as Reznor sings lyrics of the song along with a rhythmic production of more drum tracks and synthesizers that makes this remix suitable for a party or rave.
Although the single for The Day The World Went Away became the first NIN song to make it in U.S. Top Twenty Singles chart where it debuted at number seventeen, the song for The Day The World Went Away was a radical choice to be the first single for The Fragile. When the album was released on September 20, 1999, the album didn’t really have any real singles and a song with no drums or beats in the world of teen-pop and rap-metal was definitely too weird for radio listeners which marked one of the many reasons why The Fragile was a commercial failure in the U.S.
The Day The World Went Away is a very good teaser single from NIN and it showed that any tracks from that upcoming album weren’t really used as singles but album tracks that gelled as one great album. Though The Day The World Went Away wasn’t a good choice for a single like so many tracks on that album, it was only used as what to expect from Trent Reznor and his cohorts as fans awaited the release of what many considered to be Trent Reznor’s greatest achievement yet.
Pretty Hate Machine/Broken Era (1989-1992): halo 1 - halo 2 - halo 3 - halo 4 - halo 5 - halo 6
The Downward Spiral Era: (1994-1997): halo 7 - halo 8 - halo 8 DE - halo 9 - halo 10 - halo 11 - halo 12
The Fragile Era (1999-2002): halo 14 - halo 15.1 - halo 15.2 - halo 15.3 - halo 16 - halo 17 DE - halo 17 DVD
With Teeth/Year Zero Era: halo 18 - halo 19 - halo 20 - halo 21 - halo 22 - halo 23 - halo 24 - halo 25
Ghosts I-IV/The Slip Era (2008): halo 26 - halo 27
Promos: (seed 1) - (seed 2) - (seed 3) - (seed 4) - (seed 5) - (seed 6)
Soundtracks: (The Crow) - (Natural Born Killers) - (Lost Highway) - (Tomb Raider) - (The Limitless Potential) - (Strobe Light)
Live Shows: (NIN/Bauhaus/TV on the Radio-6/7/06 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) - (NIN/Deerhunter-8/13/08 Duluth, GA Gwinnett Arena) - (NIN/Jane's Addiction/Street Sweeper Social Club-5/10/09 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater)