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10 Nine Inch Nails Songs That Freaked Your Parents Out

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09. “Mr. Self Destruct”


“Mr. Self Destruct” opens The Downward Spiral with a sample from George Lucas’ first film, THX 1138. This audio snippet features totalitarian guards delivering a rousing beatdown upon the head of some poor sap who just couldn’t fit into society’s new order. This stomp session accelerates to a meteoric tempo, like a high that can’t be sustained or a bullet leaving a gun. The song races along with Reznor’s static-washed vocals spewing themes of violence, religion, anger, pain, drugs, and a variety of other touchy subjects that are sure to alienate anyone whose popular music radar stopped working in the mid-70’s. Not feeling disaffected yet? Stick around for the chaotic outro that inspired a thousand noisecore acts.

Contentious Lyrics: “I am the prayers of the naive/ And I control you/ I am the lie that you believe/ And I control you”

Days Grounded: The length of time it takes to listen to Pat Boone’s entire discography. A truly hellish penance.

–Dan Pfleegor

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