Is it possible to sell challenging, innovative music to the masses? On The Fragile, the long-awaited follow-up to Nine Inch Nails’ dense, aggressive The Downward Spiral (1994), Trent Reznor will take one of the year’s biggest creative leaps by attempting just that. Tentatively due this spring and including such unorthodox production techniques as recording a ukulele in a kitchen sink, the possible two-CD set represents a huge commercial risk, especially in a market flooded with Backstreet clones. ”It doesn’t look to me like a singles-oriented hit pop top-of-the-charts-type album,” admits the singer. ”I assume we aren’t going to have super-heavy MTV rotation.” Still, The Fragile has the potential to be a career-defining artistic triumph. ”I just want to make a record where someone says that’s a f—ing good record,” says Reznor, 33. ”If I fail, I fail with a good conscience. Of course, I’ll probably be singing a different tune if my record falls off the charts in the second week.”
Fragile becomes the year’s quirkiest hit — demonstrating there is a rock god.
NIN’s career begins a long downward spiral — and provides further proof that the ’90s are over.