The Perfect Drug

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"The Perfect Drug"
Perfect drug.jpg
Single by Nine Inch Nails
from the album Lost Highway Soundtrack
ReleasedMay 13, 1997
RecordedMid–late 1996
Songwriter(s)Trent Reznor
Nine Inch Nails singles chronology
"The Perfect Drug"
"The Day the World Went Away"
Halo numbers chronology
Halo 10
Halo 11
Halo 12

"The Perfect Drug" is a song by Nine Inch Nails written for the David Lynch film Lost Highway. It was released in 1997 on the Lost Highway soundtrack as well as a single from the score. Remixes of the song were released as 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 EP. 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 September 2018 the band performed the song live for the first time at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.[1]


"The Perfect Drug" was described by Entertainment Weekly as a "drum-and-bass-infused industrial pop song".[2] The Guardian also noted the drum and bass influence in the song.[3] Despite being a single, "The Perfect Drug" did not appear live until September 18, 2018 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.[4] On the official NIN website, a fan asked whether the track had not 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."[5]

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."[6]


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.[7]

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.[8][9] 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.[10]


"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 performance for "The Perfect Drug"
Chart (1997) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[11] 48
Canada Rock/Alternative (RPM)[12] 2
Denmark (Tracklisten)[13] 13
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[14] 7
Hungary (Mahasz)[15] 9
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[16] 32
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[17] 48
UK Singles (OCC)[18] 43
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 46
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[20] 21
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[21] 11

Cover versions and samples[edit]

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.


  1. ^ "Watch Nine Inch Nails Perform 'The Perfect Drug' Live For First Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  2. ^ Sacharow, Anya (June 6, 1997). ""The Perfect Drug" Versions". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  3. ^ Cronshaw, Jon (July 8, 2013). "Nine Inch Nails: a beginner's guide". The Guardian. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  4. ^ Deserto, Frank. "Nine Inch Nails Debut "The Perfect Drug" Live at Red Rocks". Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  5. ^ Trent Reznor (May 10, 2004). "Access". Archived from the original on October 29, 2006. Retrieved February 25, 2008.
  6. ^ Patterson, Carl D. "Trent Reznor Presents The Radio 1 Rock Show · Carl D. Patterson". Archived from the original on December 19, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 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
  7. ^ "Plaintiffs Supplemental Disclosure Statement 10.28.08". October 28, 2008. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
  8. ^ "Edward Gorey Documentary Raw Footage- Interview with Mark Romanek". YouTube. December 11, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  9. ^ Interview with Mark Romanek, in the currently unreleased documentary by Christopher Seufert.
  10. ^ "Videos Honored". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 18, 2008.
  11. ^ " – Nine Inch Nails – The Perfect Drug". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  12. ^ "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 3182." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  13. ^ " – Nine Inch Nails – The Perfect Drug". Tracklisten. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  14. ^ "Nine Inch Nails: The Perfect Drug" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  15. ^ "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. July 19, 1997. p. 14. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  16. ^ " – Nine Inch Nails – The Perfect Drug". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  17. ^ " – Nine Inch Nails – The Perfect Drug". Singles Top 100. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  18. ^ "Nine Inch Nails: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  19. ^ "Nine Inch Nails Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  20. ^ "Nine Inch Nails Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  21. ^ "Nine Inch Nails Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved February 9, 2019.

External links[edit]