Essential Reznor Recordings for People Who Loved The Social Network

Last night at the Golden Globes, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won the Globe for musical score for their work on the soundtrack to The Social Network. Trent’s immediate reaction: “Holy shit!”

Now, I haven’t seen The Social Network yet, but I have listened to the soundtrack a whole bunch since it came out last fall. And, those of you who have been reading Geek Force Five for a long time will remember that I started this site partly as a way to write regularly about my obsession with Reznor’s band Nine Inch Nails. So, I thought what better way to celebrate Reznor’s first Golden Globe than with a FiveList of Essential Reznor Recordings for People Who Loved The Social Network Score.

1. Ghosts I-IV
Reznor’s band Nine Inch Nails is known more for its aggression and intensity than it’s known for its quiet introspection—though “Hurt,” both the original the Johnny Cash cover, did their part to widen the public’s appreciation. But I’m of the opinion that the quieter stuff, the less in-your-face stuff that you get on The Social Network score, might be even better than the loud anger-anthems. And nowhere is that more evident than on the instrumental record NIN released in 2008, Ghosts I-IV. Sometimes called “soundtracks for films that don’t exist,” the songs on the Ghosts record are the perfect entry-point to NIN for the person who enjoyed The Social Network score.

2. “Non-Entity” at ReAct Now
I think the next place I’d go, if I were trying to win over someone who loved The Social Network score but who was uncertain about NIN would be the performance of “Non-Entity” that Trent gave at the Hurricane Katrina relief concert, ReAct Now. That performance was just Trent on piano with a boombox providing the beat, and it was exquisite. Just years before, Trent had lived and worked in New Orleans, and this performance is colored by an intense love for a city that was now in ruins.

3. The 2006 Radio Show Performances with Peter Murphy
After that, I’d direct listeners to the series of radio show performances that Reznor did with Peter Murphy on the 2006 tour that featured both Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus. There are four that I know of, and they each go in a slightly different direction (all good directions, I promise you). The best of the bunch is the one recorded in Boston, which featured Murphy, Jeordie White, Reznor, and Reznor’s Social Network collaborator Atticus Ross. Though it only featured one NIN song—“Reptile”—it more than made up for that with amazing covers of “Warm Leatherette” and “Nightclubbing” and a stirring detour into somber Murphy country called “Strange Kind of Love.”

4. Still
Released as a companion to the first live NIN record, And All That Could Have Been, Still is a nine-song masterpiece. It features, for lack of a better word, “unplugged” performances of songs from The Fragile as well as new instrumental tracks (including one of my all-time favorite Reznor compositions, “Leaving Hope”).

5. The Bridge School Benefit
As close as Trent ever got to MTV Unplugged: Nine Inch Nails, this picks up where the aforementioned “Non-Entity” performance leaves off and features Trent accompanied by a string section.

So, there you go. If you’ve been wondering what to listen to next, now that you’ve heard the score to The Social Network, I think this list will do nicely. And if you want to hear more about how the score came together, one of the best of the many interviews I’ve listened to can be found here. Jon Pareles of the New York Times gets great stuff out of Trent, including a look at a scene before and after the Reznor/Ross score came into being.