“Closer” by Nine Inch Nails (1994)

I was reading the Wikipedia page for The Downward Spiral (while also listening to The Downward Spiral, an album that’s not aged as well as I would have liked), when this line sank into my eyeballs: “Lyrically, “Closer” is a meditation on self-hatred and obsession, but to Reznor’s dismay, the song was widely misinterpreted as a lust anthem due to its chorus, which included the line “I wanna fuck you like an animal.”

Dear Wikipedia editor: self hatred, obsession and lust are not mutually exclusive entities. Actually, those things go hand in hand quite a bit. Trent may have been upset with “Closer” being interpreted solely as a lust anthem. But there’d be no doubt that “Closer” drips sex, even if that infamous chorus was scrubbed out of the mix. And it ain’t just the lyrics giving off that vibe, either.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found a chunk of NIN’s material less appealing in the same way I find a lot of angry white boy music less appealing. Like, motherfucker why the hell are you so aggie? Some of NIN’s post-Spiral music also feels like angst-for-profit (like everything Eminem’s made since 2002, to use an identifiable example.) “Closer” is the real deal, though, not least because that anger is cut with so many other emotions…including lust, Wikipedia editor be damned.

Not sure if I’ve ever seen the video in its entirety, despite its release coming at the peak of my MTV consumption. Knowing what I know about the clip, I don’t think viewing it all the way through is ever gonna be an option for me. Feel free to do you, though.

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