MTV debuted the year after I was born, and even as a tiny kiddo I was drawn to the art of music videos. 90s music videos will always have a special place in my heart because that’s when I spent a ton of time camped out in front of the TV watching 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation to see the newest videos (and some older ones that maybe didn’t get much airplay originally).
One of the videos I was immediately wowed by the first time I saw it was Nine Inch Nails‘ “Closer.” The song itself is amazing, but the video (directed by Mark Romanek) just blew my mind. I loved the aesthetic. I loved how it looked like a relic from the past – but a vague time period that was hard to nail down (no pun intended). It was like a creepy-goth-steampunk-kink extravaganza and Trent “Oops That’s My Kink” Reznor was the focus, and I loved every second of it. Considering I was right smack-dab in the middle of my formative years, it had a massive impact on me artistically (and other ways).
What’s really great about the video was that everything in the video was practical. The beating heart. Trent’s floating. Trent’s face on the mannequin head. The slabs of meat. The insects. All of it. The set itself was almost like an art installation, and I would have loved to have had a chance to walk around it and look at every little detail. Mark had a massive vision for the video and drew inspiration from a wide array of sources: Man Ray, Francis Bacon, the Brothers Quay, Joel-Peter Witkin, 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc. Somehow, it all works.
The behind-the-scenes video shown above is taken from Closure, which was a double VHS set that was released in 1997 that included live footage and a collection of Nine Inch Nails videos. This was on the second VHS. It never had a DVD release, unfortunately, but it was uploaded to the NIN Vimeo page, thankfully.
Basically, I just wanted to wax poetic about one of my favorite music videos, and share the cool behind-the-scenes footage I completely forgot existed (but thankful it now exists online).
And, if you need a refresher, check out the video for “Closer” below: