Starfuckers, Inc.

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"Starfuckers, Inc."
NIN Starsuckers.jpg
Promotional single by Nine Inch Nails from the album The Fragile
Released May 2, 2000 (2000-05-02)
Format
Length 5:00
Label Nothing
Writer(s)
Producer(s)

"Starfuckers, Inc." (known as "Starsuckers, Inc." in its edited form), is a song by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails from their third studio album, The Fragile (1999). Although the song does not have an official halo, an edited promotional single for "Starfuckers, Inc.", retitled "Starsuckers, Inc.", was distributed with exclusive radio edits, and a video for the song was produced.

Background[edit]

Written by Trent Reznor and Charlie Clouser, "Starfuckers, Inc." is one of the heaviest songs on The Fragile. The chorus is built on heavy metal guitars and massed, shouted choruses. The verses feature breakbeats, deep bass hits, and glitchy, stuttering vocals. The outro introduces more synthesizers, distortion and sound effects.

"Starfuckers, Inc." deals with the self-involved vanity and shallow commercialization of fame.[1] The song directly references "You're So Vain", Carly Simon's ode to a self-absorbed lover, by quoting the chorus:

You're so vain
I bet you think this song is about you
Don't you?

These lyrics were changed for the video version of "Starsuckers, Inc." to:

Overplayed
And soon you'll make us forget about you
Won't you?

Other than Marilyn Manson, the lyrics are often speculated to be directed towards Courtney Love. The video version of "Starfuckers, Inc." was changed to "Starsuckers, Inc.". The word "Starfucker" may have been taken from The Rolling Stones' song "Star Star" (original title "Starfucker") which appeared on their 1973 album Goats Head Soup[2] or more likely from the song "Professional Widow", also rumoured to be about Love, by Tori Amos, to whom Reznor was close prior to what he refers to as "some malicious meddling on the part of Courtney Love".[3]

The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2000, but it lost to Black Sabbath's "Iron Man".

Release[edit]

"Starsuckers, Inc." was released as a promotional three-track CD in the United States. It contains the original track, a radio edit in which the word "starfuckers" is replaced by the less-profane "Starsuckers", and the audio of the "Starsuckers, Inc." video with additional changes in lyrics. Its Nothing Records catalog number is INTR-10079-2.

An extended version of "Starfuckers, Inc." was also included as a B-side to the first single from The Fragile, "The Day the World Went Away".

Music video[edit]

Reznor and Marilyn Manson in the end of the "Starsuckers, Inc." music video

The music video for "Starfuckers, Inc.", directed by Robert Hales and Manson,[4] revolves around the same themes as the song, albeit in a darkly humorous manner. Under the cover of darkness, Reznor and an attractive blonde ride in a limousine to a deserted carnival. With the blonde videotaping his antics, Reznor throws baseballs (as in American carnival games) to break images of various musicians. Literally and metaphorically, the theme of 'breaking images' recurs throughout the video. Images of other musicians throughout the video refer, in part, to a well-known story about Reznor in Spin in 1997, e.g. "Unlike many musicians, Reznor is savagely aware of his place in the current strata of pop stars. He constantly compares himself to other musicians, saying that he "can't write a thousand songs like Billy Corgan," that he's "not as careerist as [Marilyn] Manson," that he "can't sing about [his] big dick like David Lee Roth."[5] Images of Corgan, Manson, and Roth, among others, appear throughout the video.

The first grouping of musicians' images—depicted via 12 head-shots on 12 plates—seems almost random, until one thinks about how each artist utilized his or her "image"—undercutting his or her merit, or as a substitute for merit. Artists range from Reznor's protege, shock rocker (and recent feud partner) Marilyn Manson, to gonzo rock icon David Lee Roth, to alt rock godfather Michael Stipe, and 'new country' mega-seller Garth Brooks—to "here today, gone tomorrow" artists of the times, like Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray, and Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit—to image-obsessed pop divas Mariah Carey, Cher, and Whitney Houston, to the unabashedly capitalistic Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

After destroying plates of Manson, Stipe, Durst, McGrath, and Carey, Reznor tosses numerous CDs into a dirty toilet (including Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals and Smells Like Children and Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral). Reznor then moves onto a game in which he throws baseballs at a plaster bust of Billy Corgan and at himself. In doing so, Reznor seems to acknowledge that he too fell prey to comparable traps of ego and image that accompany stardom. The video's most explicit mockery shows an obese Courtney Love lookalike sitting in a dunk-tank filled with waste. Reznor dunks her. The video concludes back in the limousine, where the blonde removes her wig to reveal "her" identity as Manson.

Viewers took Manson's appearance in the video as a sign that Reznor and Manson had renewed their friendship. Manson has sung "Starfuckers, Inc." live with the band once, with the video recording of this performance appearing as an easter egg on the And All that Could Have Been DVD.

Track listings[edit]

  • UK promotional 12" single[6]
A. "Starfuckers, Inc." – 5:00
B. "The Day the World Went Away" (Porter Ricks Remix) – 7:02
  • US promotional CD single[7]
  1. "Starsuckers, Inc." – 4:13
  2. "Starfuckers, Inc." – 4:06
  3. "Starsuckers, Inc." (video version) – 4:18
  • German promotional CD single[8]
  1. "Starsuckers" – 5:01

Charts[edit]

Chart (1999) Peak
position
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[9] 39

References[edit]

  1. ^ Marilyn Manson / Trent Reznor - The Starsuckers comment on YouTube
  2. ^ Weisbard, Eric (March 1996). "Sympathy for the Devil". Spin Magazine. Vol. 11 no. 11. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  3. ^ "TORI AMOS | HEREINMYHEAD.COM | musicians | trent reznor". Hereinmyhead.Com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  4. ^ "Nine Inch Nails - Starsuckers Inc. - Music Video Database - The Base Of Music Videos". Onlinemusikvideos.com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  5. ^ http://www.theninhotline.net/archives/articles/vital.shtml
  6. ^ "Starfuckers, Inc." (UK promotional 12" single). Nine Inch Nails. Nothing Records/Island Records. 1999. 12 NIN 1. 
  7. ^ "Starsuckers, Inc." (US promotional CD single). Nine Inch Nails. Nothing Records. 2000. INTR-10079-2. 
  8. ^ "Starsuckers" (German promotional CD single). Nine Inch Nails. Motor Music. 2000. 9551038 224. 
  9. ^ "Nine Inch Nails – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Nine Inch Nails. Retrieved December 28, 2016.