Rock Radio Pumps Up Volume

By Gil Kaufman for Sonicnet on December 2, 1999

On New NIN Single Third cut from The Fragile, 'Into the Void,' getting heavy airplay as album spirals down chart.

While Nine Inch Nails' acclaimed double album The Fragile quickly and quietly slips toward chart oblivion, the album's third single is gaining momentum on rock radio.

And some industry professionals say the moody industrial-rock track "Into the Void" could be the break NIN leader Trent Reznor needs to lift the album out of its downward spiral. "Every record, by the time they get to the third single, that's sort of a fork in the road," Sky Daniels, general manager of trade magazine Radio & Records, said.

"Into the Void" (RealAudio excerpt) released to radio this week, has been added to 23 of the 25 biggest alternative-rock stations that report to Radio & Records, according to Daniels. "It's nearly closed out alternative radio in its first week, which, if it was any other artist, people would be saying was really great," Daniels said. "A lot of times with megastars like NIN, people have lofty expectations that you can't live up to, no matter how successful you are."

The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart upon its Sept. 21 release, selling 228,000 copies, but it quickly began to slide and will land at #178 on this week's chart, published on Thursday (Dec. 2).

"If [The Fragile] is out of the top 200, it's not Nine Inch Nails' fault," said Oedipus, program director at Boston's taste-making rock station WBCN-FM. "They delivered an amazing record that needs to be promoted better."

A spokesperson for NIN could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

While fans may not be buying into Reznor's latest musical endeavor as enthusiastically as expected, critics have been raving about the album. In its upcoming January issue, Spin magazine names The Fragile album of the year.

Daniels said "Into the Void" was added to 36 alternative stations this week, bringing its total up to 70 stations, nationwide, including hard-rock outlets. Total spins of the song have jumped from 200 to 700 a week nationwide in three weeks. "That's a pretty amazing jump for the warm-up period for a song," Daniels said.

Before the album's release, radio stations got a double-A-side single, "The Day the World Went Away" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Starfuckers, Inc." (RealAudio excerpt). The second single sent to radio, "We're in This Together," was accompanied by a dark video, filmed in Mexico, in which singer Reznor can be seen running through the streets amid a crowd of black-clothed men.

A video for "Into the Void" will be filmed in London this week, according to a Nothing Records statement.

The song's chorus, "Trying to save myself, but myself keeps slipping away," was used in a televised teaser campaign for the album that debuted in November 1998. The funk-inspired song begins with a familiar wash of keyboards and electronic sounds but never explodes into the roaring blast of feedback-laden rock the bandleader has made his calling card.

WBCN is one of the two leading alternative stations that have not yet added "Into the Void," Daniels said. Oedipus, who goes only by that name, said that's because the station is still playing "We're in This Together."

"We've had great success with ['We're in This Together'], and it's still riding high, so we don't want to water that down," he said. He said the song is getting positive feedback from listeners and being played three to four times daily. "I'm sure we'll add 'Into the Void' when the time is right," he said.

The group was scheduled to wrap up a European tour Wednesday at the Brixton Academy in London. Plans call for NIN to begin a tour of Japan in January, followed by a late-January/early-February stint headlining the Big Day Out festival in Australia and New Zealand. The band is slated to perform in the U.S. after Big Day Out.

The touring version of the group includes singer/guitarist Reznor, guitarists/keyboardists Robin Finck and Danny Lohner, keyboardist Charlie Clouser and drummer Jerome Dillon. The Fragile has sold just more than 530,000 copies, according to sales-tracking company SoundScan.

The band's previous album, The Downward Spiral (1994), is certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, meaning more than 4 million copies have been shipped in the U.S. Pretty Hate Machine (1989) is certified double platinum.

"You either continue forward or move on to the next album and wash your hands of it. But I would not have put money on this closing out alternative radio in its first week," Daniels said of the new single. "Will this be the song that generates rabid acceptance of the album? Who knows?

"But I think people will point to the fact that he's not touring the U.S. as one of the reasons sales haven't met expectations yet."

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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