Trent Reznor made some major breakthroughs — both artistically and commercially — when he dropped Nine Inch Nails' 1992 EP, Broken. Twenty-five years later, the single "Wish" has emerged as arguably the most enduring track off the pivotal eight-song release.
"Wish" hits a sweet spot — with Reznor's venomous, nihilist lyrics, industrial thrash guitars, pummeling drums, aggro synths and all-out build-and-release insanity — that made the track resonate equally with both fans and critics (it earned Reznor his first Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1993). It also struck a particular chord with musicians, and has become the most covered song from that highly influential EP.
Below, we've compiled six compelling, and often confounding, renditions of this classic Nineties-era NIN cut.
Polish blackened death-metal band Behemoth aren't shy about their love of Nine Inch Nails. "Nine Inch Nails is a fuckin' extreme band," frontman Nergal told Metal Rules in 2003. "In my opinion, they are darker than 95 percent of all black/death bands ... I think 'Wish' is fuckin' great. It sounds very punk-like." Naturally, Nergal and Co. paid their respect and included their tribute on Behemoth's 2003 Conjuration EP.
Linkin Park covered "Wish" during their extensive touring behind 2003's Meteora, including the performance featured above at Germany's Rock am Ring festival on June 6th, 2004. The band also recorded a cover of "Wish" during their Projekt Revolution tour that same year, and released the song on their exclusive fan club–only live EP Underground 4.0.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
New Jersey tech-noise extremists the Dillinger Escape Plan recorded the song for their 2006 covers EP, Plagiarism, and also joined Reznor onstage, on multiple occasions, to perform "Wish" with Nine Inch Nails. Above, watch both bands throw down on a crushing joint version of the track at the Soundwave Festival in Perth, Australia, on March 2nd, 2009.
Only the maniacs behind Rockabye Baby! could have imagined "Wish" as a suitable children's lullaby. To their credit, the inventive arrangement — with soothing xylophones in place of gnarly guitars, and Reznor's R-rated lyrics ("Fist fuck!") wiped entirely — is eerily calming. Listen to the results above, as heard on the 2007 album, Lullaby Renditions of Nine Inch Nails.
South Bend, Indiana, jam band Umphrey's McGee are possibly the most unexpected candidate to cover Nine Inch Nails, yet for guitarist Jake Cinninger, the thread from industrial metal to modern jam is perfectly natural. "It harkens back to what Grateful Dead and Phish obviously developed, but what we're doing is using our modern influences," Cinninger told Bob Miles in 2014. "When the Dead were doing it, they were influenced by bluegrass and jazz and played rock & roll. Phish obviously had the Seventies radio rock with the jazz and the bluegrass. When our time came up to bat, we had Nine Inch Nails, all these King Crimson things and like ... death metal."
Sheep on Drugs
In 1995, U.K. techno-punk group Sheep on Drugs found a home on Chicago's Invisible Records, which was run by Martin Atkins — the drummer who perfomed on Nine Inch Nails' original version of "Wish." A few years later, the group whipped up a seriously Y2K-sounding version of the track for Cleopatra Records' 2000 compilation album Covered In Nails: A Tribute to Nine Inch Nails.