Closer (Nine Inch Nails song)

Closer to god US.jpg
US CD single cover
Single by Nine Inch Nails
from the album The Downward Spiral
  • "March of the Fuckheads"
  • "Memorabilia"
ReleasedMay 30, 1994 (1994-05-30)
StudioLe Pig (Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles)
The Record Plant, A&M Studios (Hollywood, Los Angeles)
Songwriter(s)Trent Reznor
Nine Inch Nails singles chronology
"March of the Pigs"
"The Perfect Drug"
Halo numbers chronology
Halo 8
Halo 9
Halo 10
Audio sample

"Closer" is an industrial rock song by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails from their second studio album, The Downward Spiral (1994). It was released on May 30, 1994 as the album's second single. Most versions of the single are titled "Closer to God", a rare example in music of a single's title differing from the title of its A-side. ("Closer to God" is also the title of an alternate version of "Closer" featured on the single.) Labeled "Halo 9", the single is the ninth official Nine Inch Nails release.

A promotional single provided by the label to radio stations included both long and short vocal-censored-i.e.: silenced profanity-versions.[1] Despite misinterpretations of the song as a lust anthem, "Closer" became Nine Inch Nails' most successful single up to that time, cemented Reznor's status as an industrial rock icon, and remains one of his best-known songs. Commercially, "Closer" reached No. 41 on the US Billboard Hot 100, No. 25 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 3 on the Australian Singles Chart. Censored versions of the song and its Mark Romanek-directed music video received substantial airplay on radio and MTV.


"Closer" has been described as industrial rock,[2][3][4][5] techno,[6] and alternative rock.[7][8] "Closer" uses elements of funk,[9] avant-garde,[10] and electronic music.[11] The drum track of "Closer" features a heavily modified bass drum sample from the Iggy Pop song "Nightclubbing" from his album The Idiot. The bass drum in "Nightclubbing" was from a Roland drum machine. The samples were produced using two Akai S1100 samplers, each with an expander (essentially four samplers). The samples were then combined with beats produced by a Roland R-70 drum machine.[12] The production features sound effects such as a bass squelch, synth echo, and feedback growl.[13]

Radio edits of "Closer" were created by muting the vocal track for the duration of each deleted obscenity.[5]

Lyrically, "Closer" is a song about 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".[14] In 2003, VH1 ranked the song at No. 93 in its countdown of the "100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years." The song was ranked at the number-two position on AOL's "69 Sexiest Songs of All Time," mostly due to the explicit frankness of the chorus.[citation needed] "Come on dude: 'I wanna fuck you like an animal'?" remarked Mötley Crüe drummer and The Downward Spiral contributor Tommy Lee. "That's the all-time fuck song. Those are pure fuck beats – Trent Reznor knew what he was doing. You can fuck to it, you can dance to it and you can break shit to it."[15]

In July 2009, the song was voted in at No. 62 on Triple J's Hottest 100 of all time, and in 2010 it was No. 42 on Pitchfork Media's Top 200 Tracks of the 90s.[16]