10 Insane Covers of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" | Revolver

10 Insane Covers of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer"

Maroon 5, Father John Misty, sleazy lounge singers and more take on 'Downward Spiral' classic

Since Nine Inch Nails released their massive 1994 single "Closer," the salacious Downward Spiral track has earned the reputation as one of the lustiest anthems of the 20th century. Trent Reznor's tortured lyrics may address dark obsession and a more sinister side of one's ego than pure, sexually driven madness, but the hard-pumping beats of the industrial-rock techno-flavored track (and its fetishistic video) ensured the choral refrain "I want to fuck you like an animal" was taken at face value by the titillated masses. Over the past 25 years, the dark track has had an interesting life of its own — from leading Downward to surprising commercial success to becoming one of the most enduring strip-club anthems of all time to inspiring a steady stream of inventive, touching and straight-up bizarre cover versions.

Below, we've collected the 10 most unexpected, creative and strangest "Closer" covers.

Kenton Chen and friends

There's really no reason for anything happening in this video to exist, but something about the utterly surreal, sleaze-tastic aura of Chen and his fantastic backup singers makes it impossible to quit watching. Whether it's the blue satin smoking jacket or the unnecessary barefootedness of every vocalist in this scene, the musicians' combined talent manages to overcome the knee-jerk ickiness of the thumbnail and turn this into a very skillful and decently listenable play on "Closer." 

Father John Misty

His enigmatic holy man persona may have made him famous with tongue-in-cheek hits like "Honey Bear" and a sensual, charismatic stage presence, but Father John Misty's smoldering cover of "Closer" is the downright filthiest he may ever have gotten onstage. Cheekily referring to it as his "favorite love song," Misty swoons and growls his way through the track with nearly as much dripping horny energy as mid-Nineties Trent Reznor, indoctrinating a whole new generation to the romance of telling someone you want to "fuck them like an animal."

Kawehi

With over 2.2 million hits on YouTube, one of the most popular entries on this list comes from Hawaiian-born, Kansas-based solo artist Kawehi — who previously went viral for her take on Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box." Her impressive rendition is built on an intricately composed series of looped samples and vocals recorded live on the spot. Kawehi's fascinating approach allows her to stay faithful to the dark vibes of the original while injecting a fresh innocence to the mix courtesy of her airy, delicate voice. 

Violet Orlandi

Singer Violet Orlandi really gives it her all on this one, and, to be fair, she is a talented singer. Unfortunately this cover comes off more like someone's frisky church mom saw 50 Shades and tried light spanking for the first time. But we 100-percent respect the video's intense direct-to-the-camera eye contact, which adds an appropriately fucking uncomfortable intimacy to the proceedings.  

Monarchy

Perhaps the most unique entry on this list, Australian electronic duo Monarchy's rendition of "Closer" serves up serious rainy-day-in-a-coffee-house vibes, minus the saccharine pretentiousness associated with that brand of music. What they stripped away in bawdy insinuations, Monarchy rebuilt into a tenderly lush love-making ballad that could act as a more palatable introduction to rough sex for those who aren't used to being romanced with the aggressive notions of animalistic fucking. 

Hana Maria

The premise of a creepy-ish person heading up to the attic to film themselves covering "Closer" on an endless array of percussion instruments, a cello, and even a child's bell is questionable at best, but mysterious artist Hana Maria makes it work. Capturing the original's unsettling undercurrent, Maria takes Reznor's iconic creation and breathes a DIY, found-footage horror-film aesthetic into the 1994 classic that downplays the sexuality and brings out its eeriness. 

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Literally not a single fucking person asked for this — but sometimes the universe likes to remind us that, as a species, humans definitely deserve a mass extinction every so often to wipe the slate clean. 

Jona Camacho

Thoughtfully produced and impeccably sung, this mostly a cappella version of "Closer" seems a bit corny at first, but Jona Camacho's vocal abilities quickly turn from comedic to downright hot. By the time he's growling through the chorus just over halfway through, Camacho is joined for an intense and unexpected verse from rapper Karin B, completely altering the format and impact of NIN's version without compromising the quality of either's creativity. 

Maroon 5

Long before Maroon 5 were being constantly played on Target loudspeakers everywhere and meme'd to death for Adam Levine's hardcore tough-guy shirtless showing at this year's Superbowl, they were just another rock band on their way to the top sometimes paying homage to their heroes. Such was the case when the group took on an acoustic, bongo-heavy version of "Closer" in the late 2000s, maintaining a similar structure to the OG but with a distinctly Jack Johnson, California surf's-up bro feel that we're not sure any real Nine Inch Nails fans wanted. 

Rockabye Baby!

This sounds like the soundtrack to a waiting room in Hell, which depending on your personal tastes is either repulsive or oddly comforting. Sure it's bizarre to strip away the bits that incited a million pearl-clutchings, but lain bare and scrubbed of its delicious vulgarity, "Closer" is above all a gorgeous song and Rockabye Baby!'s version somewhat regrettably encapsulates that better than anyone.