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Intro

When Trent Reznor unleashed "Head Like a Hole" on the world back in 1989, there wasn't anything else out there that sounded quite like it. Thrashing, metal-inspired guitar parts? We'd heard that. Bleak, brooding lyrics full of self-loathing and allusions to S&M? That was something more unusual. But building it all on top of a rollicking electronic dance beat? That was mind-blowing. This is the darkest upbeat song you'll ever hear.

About the Song

ArtistNine Inch Nails Musician(s)Trent Reznor
AlbumPretty Hate Machine
Year1989
LabelTVT Records
Writer(s)Trent Reznor
Producer(s)Trent Reznor, Flood, Adrian Sherwood, Keith LeBlanc
Learn to play: Tablature
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Music Video

Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Money. Power. Sex. Domination. Love. Hate.

Trent Reznor brought all these vital elements of the human experience together in surprising and sometimes uncomfortable ways. (Listening to Nine Inch Nails isn't something you'd usually describe as… pleasant.)

But then, neither exactly is Othello or The Merchant of Venice or Macbeth; plumbing the depths of the human character isn't necessarily fun. But that makes it no less riveting.

On the Charts

In 1990, "Head Like A Hole" peaked at #28 on the US Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Pretty Hate Machine peaked at #75 on the Billboard 200.
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