Listening to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails as a teenager was a defining, formative musical experience (much as it was for our own Trent Wolbe). It was the first time music felt truly dangerous, like I was hearing something I wasn't supposed to hear (ironic for an album that sold more than four million copies). But more importantly to me, it was the first time I listened to an album and could barely discern what most of the instruments were. It was a confusion that inspired me to dig into the album time and time again to deconstruct the auditory puzzles it presented me with. Over the past 24 years or so, Trent Reznor has made a career defined by those puzzles, by melding the machine with the organic — injecting just enough humanity into his compositions to engage with a wider audience while still pushing the technological envelope. It's a balance and a mix that never gets old to my ears.

Later tonight, NIN will play at Lollapalooza in Chicago, marking its first live show in the US in four years. It's an event that inspired me to dig back into NIN's now vast catalog and find some overlooked gems, the deeper cuts. Most of these songs have never been played on the radio, and typically only make the occasional live appearance — but they represent all of the facets that NIN is so well-known for through more popular songs like "Head Like A Hole," "Closer," and "Hurt." The unbridled rage, the slinky, dance-inspired grooves, the pure noise, the balladry, it's all on display here. Though in Reznor's ongoing battle between the human and the machine, the machine might have the edge in this playlist.

Visit our forums for a track-by-track walkthrough of this playlist.

  1. Somewhat Damaged
  2. All The Love In The World
  3. Letting You
  4. Sanctified
  5. Vessel
  6. Kinda I Want To
  7. Closer (Precursor)
  8. Eraser
  9. Ripe (With Decay)
  10. The Day The World Went Away
  11. Beside You In Time
  12. Mr. Self Destruct
  13. Happiness In Slavery
  14. The Good Soldier
  15. I Do Not Want This
  16. Just Like You Imagined
  17. In This Twilight
  18. Zero Sum