The Perfect Drug

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"The Perfect Drug"
Perfect drug.jpg
Single by Nine Inch Nails
from the album Lost Highway Soundtrack
Released May 13, 1997
Format CD, promotional 12"
Recorded Mid-late 1996
Genre Drum and bass[1]
Length 5:42
Songwriter(s) Trent Reznor
Nine Inch Nails singles chronology
"The Perfect Drug"
"The Day the World Went Away"

"The Perfect Drug"
"The Day the World Went Away"
Halo numbers chronology
"Halo 10"
(1995) Halo 101995
"Halo 11"
(1997) Halo 111997
"Halo 12"
(1997) Halo 121997

"The Perfect Drug" is a song by Nine Inch Nails written for the David Lynch film Lost Highway and appearing on the Lost Highway soundtrack as well as a single from the score in 1997. Remixes of the song were released in an EP, "The Perfect Drug" Versions.

Though "The Perfect Drug" Versions acts as a single for the titular song, the original version does not appear on the American single. Unusually, the track has also been included on international singles "We're in This Together, Part 3" and "Into the Void" without the ending truncated; the only audio release of it in North America being on the Lost Highway soundtrack. A music video for it was directed by Mark Romanek, included with Closure, a VHS compilation and The Work of Director Mark Romanek.

In 2002, American post-hardcore band the Blood Brothers sampled the song in their song "Kiss of the Octopus". In 2011, the song was used as the entrance song for Japanese mixed martial artist Michihiro Omigawa at UFC 131. American deathcore band Fit for an Autopsy covered the song for the split EP The Depression Sessions in 2016.


Despite being a single, "The Perfect Drug" did not appear live until September 18th, 2018 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado[2]. On the official NIN website, a fan asked whether the track hadn't been performed live is because "the drum solo would make Jerome's arms fall off." Then-drummer Jerome Dillon replied that they "never rule out the possibility of playing any of the songs live."[3]

On April 6, 2005, while presenting the late-night BBC Radio 1 Rock Show in the UK, Trent Reznor responded to the question, "Which piece of your own work are you least satisfied with and why?" by saying:

"The only thing I think I really don't like that much is "The Perfect Drug" song. It was one of those things where you have a week to do a track for a movie, the mindset that you kind of adapt in that situation, or I did, was 'let's go in and experiment and see what happens, and it's not, y'know, whatever comes out of it, it's not the end of the world'. And I think what came out of it, married with a bloated, over-budget video, feels like ... the least thing that I would play to somebody if they said play me, y'know, the top hundred songs you've written, that probably wouldn't be in the top hundred. I'm not cringing about it, but it's not my favorite piece."[4]


The song is one of 31 music files in the Sony BMG v. Tenenbaum case, which resulted in finding the individual file-sharer liable for copyright infringement in July 2009, demanding an award of $22,500 a song.[5]

Music video[edit]

Reznor in a full Edwardian-styled costume as he rises on a deep fog of water while a wall covered in vines can be seen behind in the music video for "The Perfect Drug".

A music video for the single was directed by Mark Romanek and released on January 18, 1997. The theme was inspired by the illustrations of 20th-century artist Edward Gorey, with familiar Gorey elements including oversized urns and glum, pale characters in full Edwardian costume.[6][7] The most obvious reference to Gorey is the boy sitting on a cushion in front of a painting. Other references include an unidentified painting resembling Gustav Klimt's The Kiss (1907–1908) and a "Scanning Machine" designed by Frenchman François Willème in 1860.

The video is widely interpreted as showing Trent Reznor portraying a man mourning the death of a child and detaching himself from reality through absinthe.[citation needed] Charlie Clouser, Danny Lohner, and Chris Vrenna also appear in the video, most notably playing string instruments at the beginning of the video. The entire video was filmed with a blue tint, with the exception of the drum breakdown, which uses flashing green light instead. Joanne Gair's work with Nine Inch Nails on "The Perfect Drug" won her the makeup portion of the award for best hair/makeup in a music video at the Music Video Production Awards.[8]


"The Perfect Drug" Versions is the eleventh official Nine Inch Nails release and consists of five remixes of the song "The Perfect Drug." The European, Australian, and Japanese releases append the original version of the song, while a promotional vinyl set adds an exclusive sixth remix, by Aphrodite.

Track listing[edit]

Available as United States, Australia, Japan or EU single.

1."The Perfect Drug" (Remixed by Meat Beat Manifesto)7:24
2."The Perfect Drug" (Remixed by Plug)6:53
3."The Perfect Drug" (Remixed by Nine Inch Nails)8:19
4."The Perfect Drug" (Remixed by Spacetime Continuum)5:42
5."The Perfect Drug" (Remixed by The Orb)6:12
6."The Perfect Drug (Original Version)" (Non-US releases only)5:16


Chart Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Singles Sales [9] 17
Canadian Singles Chart[10] 2
Canadian RPM Rock/Alternative Chart[11] 2

The single is the most successful single in Canada, after sitting in the Canadian charts for 208 weeks.[12]


  1. ^ Tataki, Ken. "Nine Inch Nails – The Perfect Drug". Allmusic. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  2. ^ Deserto, Frank. "Nine Inch Nails Debut "The Perfect Drug" Live at Red Rocks". Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  3. ^ Trent Reznor (May 10, 2004). "Access". Archived from the original on 2006-10-29. Retrieved February 25, 2008.
  4. ^ Patterson, Carl D. "Trent Reznor Presents The Radio 1 Rock Show · Carl D. Patterson". Retrieved 29 June 2017. Reznor reads the question at 1:38:20 and after discussing how he is still satisfied with his previous albums, he brings up "The Perfect Drug" at 1:39:25
  5. ^ "Plaintiffs Supplemental Disclosure Statement 10.28.08". October 28, 2008. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
  6. ^ "Edward Gorey Documentary Raw Footage- Interview with Mark Romanek". YouTube. December 11, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  7. ^ Interview with Mark Romanek, in the currently unreleased documentary by Christopher Seufert.
  8. ^ "Videos Honored". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 18, 2008.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Nine Inch Nails > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  11. ^ "Rock/Alternative – Volume 65, No. 5, April 07 1997". RPM. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  12. ^ "CANOE -- JAM! Music – SoundScan Charts". Retrieved June 29, 2017.

External links[edit]