The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2020 Induction Ceremony aired tonight on HBO, and Nine Inch Nails were among this year’s inductees. Before Trent Reznor’s acceptance speech, the band was honored with an induction speech from Iggy Pop, where the icon compared Reznor and the band to Bob Dylan, Nirvana, George Clinton, and French novelist Michel Houellebecq. Read the speech in full below, and watch the full ceremony on HBO Max.
After Iggy Pop’s induction speech, a video packaging detailing Nine Inch Nails’ history and influence played. It featured interviews with their peers and artists they influenced. “Nine Inch Nails was always outside of music,” Rick Rubin said. “The rest of the culture is moving and changing in a certain way, and they were always outside of it.”
In addition to talking about their iconic Woodstock ’94 performance and the two choruses of “Head Like a Hole,” St. Vincent discussed Nine Inch Nails’ influence on popular culture. “Nine Inch Nails came out of the industrial scene of the ’80s and made heavy, corrosive, industrial goth music massively popular, and made it something that suburban kids were wearing T-shirts of.”
Saul Williams shared a similar sentiment. “It’s a huge influence on a generation of kids that needed direction,” he said. “I could be funny about it and say, ‘Yeah, he helped a lot of suburban white kids make sense of their lives,’ you know? But in a great way, though! In a great fuckin’ way.”
“They’re a testament that you can make infectious music that you can’t get enough of,” Miley Cyrus said. She was interviewed during a portion of the video package that noted the “Old Town Road” sample and her “Head Like a Hole” interpolation in Black Mirror. “You really start to have this deep appreciation for the melodies, and when you have a great melody, it can lend itself to any genre. I think that’s how a song becomes classic.”
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2020 also includes the Notorious B.I.G., Depeche Mode, Whitney Houston, T. Rex, and the Doobie Brothers. Jon Landau and Irving Azoff received the Ahmet Ertegun Award. Tonight’s pre-recorded broadcast, which features no musical performances, takes the place of a planned live show that was scrapped due to the pandemic. The show featured an in memoriam segment that included a special tribute to Eddie Van Halen.
Read all of Pitchfork’s coverage of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2020 ceremony.
Iggy Pop’s Nine Inch Nails induction speech
When I first heard about Nine Inch Nails and heard a little of their music I thought, “Well who is this guy?” So I took a look, and I saw a face straight out of 15th century Spain. I think Trent could’ve played Zorro. If he’d been alive at the right time, I think he could’ve been painted by Velasquez or El Greco, and his portrait would probably be hanging in the Prado today.
Listening to Nine Inch Nails’ music, which is so often called industrial, I actually hear a lot of funk. Just listen to “Closer,” and the foundation could be Stevie Wonder or George Clinton. But on top of that is a focused and relentless process of emotional destruction, which paints a portrait of pain, pressure, and dissatisfaction. It’s the soundtrack to the dark and lonely party that was beginning to play out in America at that period, so I would call it not industrial, but the sound of industro, digital ambition.
I went to the Nine Inch Nails show at the Forum in Los Angeles—the one together with David Bowie—and Trent held the center of that room just by being a kind of dark spot hunched behind the mic. I’d seen the same thing accomplished in different ways by T. Rex at Wembley, Nirvana at the Pyramid Club, and Bob Dylan in ’65. This is the mark of the master artist—simply to connect.
The controversial and brilliant French novelist Michel Houellebecq when asked the secret to his success said, “It’s easy, just tell the truth.” Listening to Nine Inch Nails feels like hearing the truth, so it gets you a little bit closer to God. It is my honor to assist in inducting Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.