Down in It

Last updated
"Down in It"
Nin-down in it.jpg
Single by Nine Inch Nails
from the album Pretty Hate Machine
ReleasedSeptember 15, 1989
Label TVT
Songwriter(s) Trent Reznor
Nine Inch Nails singles chronology
"Down in It"
"Head Like a Hole"
Halo numbers chronology
Halo 1
Halo 2

"Down in It" is a song by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, released in 1989. Released as the project's debut single, the song was the first to be written by Trent Reznor. It was released as a teaser single prior to the debut album, Pretty Hate Machine .

Industrial rock music genre

Industrial rock is an alternative rock genre that fuses industrial music and rock music.

Nine Inch Nails American industrial rock band

Nine Inch Nails, commonly abbreviated as NIN, is an American industrial rock band formed in 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio. Singer, producer and instrumentalist Trent Reznor was the only permanent member until the addition of English musician Atticus Ross in 2016.

Single (music) Type of music release usually containing one or two tracks

In the music industry, a single is a type of release, typically a song recording of fewer tracks than an LP record or an album. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, a single is a song that is released separately from an album, although it usually also appears on an album. Typically, these are the songs from albums that are released separately for promotional uses such as digital download or commercial radio airplay and are expected to be the most popular. In other cases a recording released as a single may not appear on an album.



Reznor has stated that the song was influenced heavily by "Dig It", a song by Skinny Puppy from their 1986 album Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse . [4]

Dig It (Skinny Puppy song) 1986 song by Skinny Puppy

"Dig It" is a single by the band Skinny Puppy, taken from their 1986 album Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor once mentioned that the song influenced the first song he wrote, "Down in It". He would, later in his career, go on to admit in interviews that he outright lifted some samples of the song for "Down in It".

Skinny Puppy band

Skinny Puppy is a Canadian industrial music group formed in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1982. The group is widely considered to be one of the founders of the electro-industrial genre. Initially envisioned as an experimental side project by cEvin Key while he was in the new wave band Images in Vogue, Skinny Puppy evolved into a full-time project with the addition of vocalist Nivek Ogre. Over the course of a dozen studio albums and many live tours, Key and Ogre have been the only constant members. Other members have included Dwayne Goettel (1986–1995), Dave "Rave" Ogilvie, Mark Walk (2003–present), and a number of guests, including Bill Leeb, Al Jourgensen (1989), and many others.

<i>Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse</i> 1986 studio album by Skinny Puppy

Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse is the second studio album by Skinny Puppy, released on September 5, 1986. It contained the single "Dig It", which inspired several industrial music contemporaries, including Nine Inch Nails. "Dig It" received extensive airplay on MTV and was listed by Billboard as a recommended dance track. The song "Stairs and Flowers" was also released as a single.

Single release

"Down in It" was the first official Nine Inch Nails release and the first single from the album Pretty Hate Machine. Initially released only on vinyl, a CD version was later created after the success of the album.

The first track on the single, "Down in It (skin)", is the mix that is found on Pretty Hate Machine. The cover art is very similar to Joy Division's first album, Unknown Pleasures . Joy Division has always been cited as an influence by Reznor, and he later covered their song "Dead Souls" on the soundtrack to The Crow .

Joy Division English rock band

Joy Division were an English rock band formed in Salford in 1976. The group consisted of vocalist Ian Curtis, guitarist/keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris.

<i>Unknown Pleasures</i> 1979 studio album by Joy Division

Unknown Pleasures is the debut studio album by English rock band Joy Division, released on 15 June 1979 by Factory Records. The album was recorded and mixed over three successive weekends at Stockport's Strawberry Studios in April 1979, and was produced by Martin Hannett, who incorporated a number of unconventional production techniques into the group's sound. The cover artwork was designed by artist Peter Saville, using a data plot of signals from a radio pulsar. It is the only Joy Division album released during lead singer Ian Curtis's lifetime.

<i>The Crow</i> (1994 film) 1994 film by Alex Proyas

The Crow is a 1994 American superhero film directed by Alex Proyas, written by David J. Schow and John Shirley. The film stars Brandon Lee in his final film appearance. The film is based on James O'Barr's comic book of the same name, and tells the story of Eric Draven (Lee), a rock musician who is revived from the dead to avenge his own death as well as the rape and murder of his fiancée.


Around the time of the single's release, the band lip-synched a performance of the song on the dance music program Dance Party USA . [5] The video was rediscovered in 2012 and went viral after being uploaded to YouTube. Trent Reznor responded to the video's re-discovery on his Twitter account stating that the band had decided to appear on the show after deciding it was "the most absurd choice they could come up with at the time" for a television program they would be interested in performing in, and were surprised when they were actually booked to appear on the program. [5]

Dance Party USA was an American dance television show that aired on cable's USA Network from April 12, 1986, to June 27, 1992. It was originally a half-hour, but was expanded to an hour in 1987.

YouTube Video-sharing service owned by Google

YouTube is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California. Three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim—created the service in February 2005. Google bought the site in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion; YouTube now operates as one of Google's subsidiaries.

Twitter Global micro-blogging Internet service

Twitter is a microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as "tweets". Tweets were originally restricted to 140 characters, but on November 7, 2017, this limit was doubled to 280 for all languages except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through its website interface, through Short Message Service (SMS) or its mobile-device application software ("app"). Twitter, Inc. is based in San Francisco, California, and has more than 25 offices around the world.


TVT Records American record label

TVT Records was an American record label founded by Steve Gottlieb. Over the course of its 23-year history, the label released some 25 Gold, Platinum and Multi-platinum releases. Its roster included Nine Inch Nails, Ja Rule, Lil Jon, Underworld, KMFDM, Gravity Kills, The KLF, The Baldwin Brothers, Sevendust, Nothingface, the Wellwater Conspiracy, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Holloways, The Cinematics, Buck-O-Nine, DJ Hurricane, Speech and Pitbull. Its biggest commercial successes were the triple platinum Nine Inch Nails's Pretty Hate Machine, two double platinum releases by Lil Jon, and platinum releases by Snoop Dogg and Tha Eastsidaz, Dashboard Confessional, Default and Ying Yang Twins as well as gold releases by Sevendust, Gravity Kills and The Black Crowes and Jimmy Page. Additionally, TVT also had success overseas, achieving a gold release in Germany and Sweden with The Connells and scored platinum and gold records in Canada with Default.

The single was included in the 2015 Record Store DayBlack Friday exclusive box set, Halo I–IV . [6] [7]

Music video

A music video for "Down in It" directed by Eric Zimmerman and Benjamin Stokes, filmed on location in the Warehouse District of Chicago, was released in September 1989. It includes special effects applied to scenes such as a television set falling down forwards and backwards, light writing, and flashing. In the video, Trent Reznor runs to the top of the building, while Chris Vrenna and Richard Patrick follow him.

The climax of the original version of the "Down in It" music video ended with the implication that Reznor's corn starch-covered character had fallen off a building and died in the street. MTV censored the scene, editing it from all airings. [8] To film the ending of the video, Zimmerman and Stokes had used a video camera tied to a balloon, so ropes were attached preventing it from escaping the Warehouse District building. [9] Minutes after they started filming using this technique, the ropes snapped and the balloons (and the camera) rose high into the atmosphere and – after traveling over 200 miles – landed on a farmer's field in Michigan. The Federal Bureau of Investigation received the footage from the farmer [10] and investigated if it portrayed a person committing suicide. [11] The FBI perceived the tape as a snuff film, and identified the person appearing at the ending to be Reznor. [12] "Somebody at the FBI had been watching too much Hitchcock or David Lynch or something," Reznor remarked. [13] The investigation ended when his manager demonstrated Reznor was not dead and the music video had nothing related to crime or satanism. [10] [14]

This story was covered by the news magazine show Hard Copy on their March 3, 1991 episode. [15] "Total junk gossip exploitative journalism…" Reznor concluded. "That was the icing on the cake: getting on the worst TV show in America." [13]

Critical reception

The single release was largely panned by Allmusic, who described the two remixes included as inferior to the original. Since all three tracks were later released on the "Head Like a Hole" single, Allmusic labeled the "Down in It" single as "completely superfluous and useful only to NIN completists." [16]

Covers, soundtrack appearances and legacy

"Down in It" has been covered by Eric Gorfain, The Meeks, Dead When I Found Her, Sasha and Tiga.

A remix of "Down in It" was used in an early 1990s Gatorade television advertisement. Originally, "Steppin' Out by Joe Jackson was to be featured in the commercial, but Jackson declined the offer. Reznor unsuccessfully sued the production company who created the commercial for copyright infringement after he saw it in 1993, accusing them for illegal use of the song without permission. [17]

The song's lyrics share similarities with those of the 2005 Nine Inch Nails song "Only", from the album With Teeth . The opening verse of Down in It contains the lyric "Just then a tiny little dot caught my eye," [18] while the second verse of Only opens with the lyric "Well, the tiniest little dot caught my eye." [19] In "Only", Trent elaborates on what that dot was ("a scab trying to seal itself shut"), while both songs also include several references to personal growth and change: "fading away" from the kind of person the protagonist once assumed himself to be and an uncertainty as to who they will inevitably become.

Track listing

All tracks remixed by Adrian Sherwood and Keith LeBlanc.

1."Down in It" (skin)3:48
2."Down in It" (shred)6:56
3."Down in It" (singe)7:03
Total length:17:47

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The Downward Spiral is the second studio album by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, released on March 8, 1994, by Nothing Records and Interscope Records in the United States and by Island Records in Europe. It is a concept album detailing the destruction of a man from the beginning of his "downward spiral" to his death by suicide. The Downward Spiral features elements of industrial rock, techno and heavy metal music, in contrast to the band's synthpop-influenced debut album Pretty Hate Machine (1989), and was produced by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and Flood.

Trent Reznor American musician

Michael Trent Reznor is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and film score composer. He is the founder, lead vocalist, and principal songwriter of the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, which he founded in 1988 and of which he was the sole official member until adding long-time collaborator Atticus Ross as a permanent member in 2016. His first release under the Nine Inch Nails name, the 1989 album Pretty Hate Machine, was a commercial and critical success. He has since released nine Nine Inch Nails studio albums. He left Interscope Records in 2007 and was an independent recording artist until signing with Columbia Records in 2012.

<i>Pretty Hate Machine</i> 1989 studio album by Nine Inch Nails

Pretty Hate Machine is the debut studio album by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, released on October 20, 1989 by TVT Records. The album is compiled of reworked tracks from the Purest Feeling demo, as well as songs composed after its original recording. Production of the record was handled by Flood and Trent Reznor, among other contributors.

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  8. "Getting Down in It". Alternative Press . No. 27. March 1990.
  9. Huxley (1997), p. 39
  10. 1 2 "Nine Inch Nails". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2008-04-12.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. Welcome to the Machine (transcript). Industrial Introspection (June 1991). Retrieved 2011-06-18.
  12. Huxley (1997), p. 40
  13. 1 2 Select , March 1991
  14. "When the FBI Investigated the 'Murder' of Nine Inch Nails's Trent Reznor". 2018-06-22. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  15. "NIN "Down In It" report on "Hard Copy," March 3rd 1991". Vimeo . Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  16. allmusic ((( Down in It > Overview )))
  17. Berger, Joshua and Lengvenis, Eric. NINE INCH NAILS: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRENT REZNOR . Plasm (1994). Retrieved 2011-06-04.
  18. "Down in It"'s lyrics
  19. "Only"'s lyrics