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Discipline (Nine Inch Nails song)

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A geometric pattern of five black squares in front of a gray background.  A red line comes from the right and goes around one of the squares.
Single by Nine Inch Nails
from the album The Slip
Released April 22, 2008 (2008-04-22)
Format Digital download
Recorded April 2008
Genre Industrial rock, alternative rock, electronic rock
Length 4:30
Label The Null Corporation
Writer(s) Trent Reznor
Producer(s) Trent Reznor, Alan Moulder
Nine Inch Nails singles chronology
"Capital G"
"Came Back Haunted"
The Slip track listing
"Letting You"

"Discipline" is a single by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. It is the band's first single since severing its ties with Interscope Records and publishing music independently. Unlike previous NIN singles, no physical release of the song was issued. The song was first released to radio stations on April 22, 2008, sent by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor.[1]

The MP3 download contains an embedded album art image, full lyrics, and the comment: "Go to May 5".[2] Subsequently on May 5, 2008 a new Nine Inch Nails album, The Slip, was revealed for download. "Discipline" charted on Billboard's Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks and Hot Modern Rock Tracks charts, and was Nine Inch Nails' sixth consecutive top ten single on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.[3]


Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor announced in 2007 that the band had completed its contractual obligations to its record label, Interscope Records, and would no longer be working with the company. Reznor also revealed that Nine Inch Nails would likely distribute music independently.[4] Since the announcement, Nine Inch Nails released the 36-track instrumental album Ghosts I–IV in March 2008 on Reznor's independent label The Null Corporation. After the release of Ghosts, Reznor began writing and recording what would become the next full-length album, The Slip.

During recording sessions for The Slip, Reznor sent the track "Discipline" to radio stations himself on April 22. The track was sent before the remainder of the album was completed, and less than 24 hours after the track had been mastered by Alan Moulder.[5] On the same day, the track was also made available for download at the official Nine Inch Nails website for free, as well as multitrack files of the song for remixing.[6][7] Reznor reflected on the quick turnaround by saying "that was fun [...] you never could have done that before", referring to his past career on major record labels.[8] "Discipline" was the first Nine Inch Nails single to be released independently via The Null Corporation.[9]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The largely electronic instrumentation of "Discipline" has been compared to Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Giorgio Moroder.[10][11] Rolling Stone magazine described the track as "the closest Reznor has ever come to disco, right down to a splashing high-hat, boosted way up in the mix".[11] Eric Harvey of Pitchfork Media also compared the song to disco, saying that the song "eschews a typically monstrous chorus for an airtight industrial disco grind ventilated by an airy piano and falsetto cooing."[12]

Lyrically, Spin magazine wrote that "As is true of nine out of every ten NIN tracks, 'Discipline' is about submission and domination".[13] Harvey compared "Discipline" to one Nine Inch Nails's first singles, "Head Like a Hole", saying "['Discipline'] comes from a long-established and now label-free artist trying to reflexively reassert his position in the pop landscape, on his own terms. [...] 'Discipline' evinces Reznor's desire for some sort of framework [...] In relative terms, 'I need your discipline/ I need your help' is sure a long way from the nearly 20-year-old 'Head Like a Hole' refrain 'I'd rather die/ Than give you control'."[12]

Release and reception[edit]

"Discipline" was released on April 22, 2008, and was the first single from The Slip. The song was also the first single released from the band under Reznor's newly formed independent label, The Null Corporation. The ID3 tag of the downloadable track came with the message "Go to May 5", the day that The Slip would eventually be released as a free download.[14]

"Discipline" was only made available for airplay and download; a physical release was never issued. Though no music video was created for the song either, retail versions of The Slip included a DVD featuring a live-rehearsal of the song by the Nine Inch Nails live band. The rehearsal video has since been posted on the band's official Vimeo and YouTube pages.[15][16] The song was written and composed by Trent Reznor, and produced by Alan Moulder and Atticus Ross.[17][18] Like the entirety of The Slip, "Discipline" was released under a Creative Commons attribution-noncommercial share-alike license, in effect allowing anyone to use or rework the material for any non-profit purpose, as long as credit is provided and the resulting work is released under a similar license.[19][20]

"Discipline" reached number six and number 24 on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks and Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks charts, respectively, and failed to top any charts.[3] The song was the band's sixth consecutive top ten single on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, but had no involvement at Top 5.[3] The song also charted at number nine on Billboard's "iLike Libraries: Most Added" chart, which tracks total downloads over the iLike online service.[21]

Pitchfork Media's review of The Slip called the track "another solid pop song about constraint from the guy who, following Prince, brought kinky sex odes to strip-mall bars."[12] Spin magazine's review of the album called "Discipline" "the most conventional tune" from The Slip.[13]

Track list[edit]

  1. "Discipline" (Trent Reznor) – 4:30

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2008) Peak
US Billboard Alternative Songs[3] 6
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[3] 24


  1. ^ Kreps, Daniel (2008-04-22). "Nine Inch Nails Release Surprise Single to Radio, Announcement in "2 Weeks!"". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  2. ^ "Discipline Available for Download at". The NIN Hotline. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "allmusic ((( Nine Inch Nails > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  4. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (2007-10-08). "Nine Inch Nails Celebrates Free Agent Status". Billboard. Nielsen Company. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  5. ^ "New song debuts on radio - Discipline". The NIN Hotline. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  6. ^ "FMQB Quick Hits: NIN, Weezer, Metallica, Staind, AC/DC, Shinedown". FMQB. Friday Morning Quarterback Album Report, Inc. 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  7. ^ "Surprise! NIN Debuts New Single". Cinema Blend. Cinema Blend, LLC. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-04-23. 
  8. ^ Pareles, Jon (2008-06-08). "Frustration and Fury: Take It. It’s Free.". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  9. ^ "allmusic ((( Nine Inch Nails > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  10. ^ Thompson, Ed (2008-05-07). "Trent Reznor serves up some free goodies". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  11. ^ a b Rosen, Jody. "Nine Inch Nails". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  12. ^ a b c Harvey, Eric. "PitchforkAlbum Reviews:The Slip". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  13. ^ a b Wood, Mikael (2008-06-26). "Nine Inch Nails, The Slip". Spin. Spin Media. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  14. ^ "Discipline Available for Download at". The NIN Hotline. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  15. ^ "NIN: Discipline - Live at Rehearsals, July 2008 (HD)". Vimeo. IAC/InterActiveCorp. 2009-03-08. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  16. ^ "YouTube – NIN: Discipline live at rehearsals, July 2008 (HD)". YouTube. Google Inc. 2009-03-10. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  17. ^ "Discipline". American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  18. ^ "Discipline – Nine Inch Nails". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  19. ^ "The Slip (May 5, 2008) – Nine Inch Nails". Internet Archive. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  20. ^ "Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States". Creative Commons. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  21. ^ "Discipline". Billboard. Nielsen Company. 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 

External links[edit]