In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re featuring our favorite songs that only appeared on soundtracks.
Before Trent Reznor became an Academy Award-winning film composer for his work on David Fincher’s The Social Network, he was the modest, lowly frontman of a little band called Nine Inch Nails. I kid of course, but Reznor’s film score composing has elevated his profile in a way that makes it feel somewhat set apart from his earlier work. Despite the illusion created by his recent prestige, Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails projects and his work with Fincher and collaborator Atticus Ross all belong to the same artistic progression. There’s a circuitous line connecting The Downward Spiral to the Gone Girl score.
“Burn” falls right at the center of that line. The Nine Inch Nails track was written for inclusion in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, the soundtrack for which was produced by Reznor, who also composed original music for it. “Burn” sounds exactly the way a Nine Inch Nails track from around the Downward Spiral era should sound. It’s seductive, menacing, and surprisingly danceable. The synthesizer sounds lend it the feel of an arcade shooter game, making it the perfect accompaniment for a film about the ways violence and pop culture intersect. “Burn” was one of the earliest indications that Reznor’s career would unwind in exactly the way it did.