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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Nine Inch Nails Songs

Your picks include “Hurt,” “Head Like a Hole” and “Closer”

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After much speculation, Trent Reznor finally confirmed last month what many had long hoped was true: Nine Inch Nails are back. "Nine Inch Nails are touring this year," the musician wrote on his website. "The first shows will begin this summer, followed by a full-on arena tour of the U.S. this fall and lots of other dates worldwide to follow through 2014."

While the prolific, one-man bastion of angst now has a new backing lineup – including bassist Eric Avery (formerly of Jane's Addiction), guitarist Adrian Belew (King Crimson), keyboardist Alessandro Cortini (NIN), keyboardist Josh Eustis (Puscifer, Telefon Tel Aviv) and drummer Ilan Rubin (NIN) – Nine Inch Nails' return got us thinking about some of their greatest cuts. We asked you to name your favorites. Here's what you told us. 


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3. ‘Something I Can Never Have’

Throughout his multi-decade career, Reznor regularly bared his tortured soul. However, on Nine Inch Nails' debut album, few songs cut to the core and introduced the world to his ache like the slow-building confessional "Something I Can Never Have." Structured around a haunting piano line, Reznor confides in the warm embrace of that which he cannot attain. "Grey would be the color if I had a heart," he croons.

"Maybe there will be a happy album from Nine Inch Nails,' he told Rolling Stone a year after releasing the song. "I doubt it, but you never know." 

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2. ‘Hurt’

In the time since its release in 1994, "Hurt" has been covered by a slew of wide-ranging artists, from Johnny Cash to Leona Lewis. Despite being the final track on The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails' original version is undoubtedly the album's cathartic center. "I hurt myself today/ To see if I still feel," Reznor whispers in hushed desperation. The singer later recalled the deep emotional toll the song's recording took on both him and his band. "We were crying when we made it, it was so intense," he said. "I didn't know if I even wanted to put it on the album."

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1. ‘Closer’

Often referred to as "Closer to God," the second single off The Downward Spiral became Nine Inch Nails' biggest hit to date and cemented Reznor's status as a rock icon. Featuring a heavily modified bass drum sample from Iggy Pop's "Nightclubbing," the track was accompanied by a controversial video that featured a nude, bald woman with a crucifix mask, a monkey tied to a cross and Reznor donning a ball gag. But it's the song's infectious beat, caustic melody and signature hook ("I wanna fuck you like an animal") that made it one of NIN's most widely celebrated works.

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