Totally Serious Music Review #5: Nine Inch Nail’s “Head Like a Hole”

The annals or rock music are littered with songs and iconography about mystical, medieval beings, heroes, and larger than life characters. For example, there’s Dio’s influential “Holy Diver,” who’s internal turmoil is elaborated in the song. However, in both Dio’s and Killswitch Engage’s videos, it turns out that the “Holy Diver” is a knight in the tradition of Beowulf. One of the most popular is Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” an anti-hero whose body has transformed into that of metal and who vows to kill the people who have not properly appreciated him for his heroic deeds.

The tradition continues with Nine Inch Nail’s “Head Like a Hole.” It’s not as obvious, but consider the lyrics: “Head like a hole/black as your soul/I’d rather die/than give you control.” I envision a headless, well-muscled body with a black hole for a head. Perhaps he is standing at a height of fifty feet. I imagine this “Hole Head” being with outstretched hand, wandering the land with long strides and sucking trees, cars, and buildings into his spinning black hole face.

Truly, he is some sort of intergalactic king as well: consider the verse, “Bow down before the one you serve/You’re going to get what you deserve.” Would “Hole Head” make such a proclamation if the people of the land hadn’t pleadged their fealty?

Similar to how Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” is being used to promote the Iron Man movie, the grandiloquence of “Head Like a Hole” parlays well into the fantastic world of superheroes. I imagine this song would be perfect for a Dr. Strange movie, preferably during the grand entrance of the Dread Dormammu.


2 thoughts on “Totally Serious Music Review #5: Nine Inch Nail’s “Head Like a Hole”

  1. Wouldn’t a song about a guy who has a black hole for a head be better for that guy who was really himself all along, except he was mistaken for his identical twin brother who was disguised as Magneto disguised as himself? I seem to recall he had a quantum singularity for a head.

  2. I never figured that story out since Grant Morrison stopped writing X-Men. But I checked up Xorn on the Wikipedia, and it looks like you’re right! At least on the black hole part; the wiki says Xorn was really the twin brother of the first Xorn, who was made to look like Magneto through the machinations of the Scarlet W-…. you know, what? The Magneto’s twin thing made much more sense. Let’s go with that.

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