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Charlie Brooker discusses making Nine Inch Nails songs “chirpy” for Black Mirror

By | Published on Thursday 6 June 2019

Miley Cyrus / Black Mirror

Three new episodes of ‘Black Mirror’ went live on Netflix yesterday, including the long-awaited appearance of Miley Cyrus in a leading role. In ‘Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too’, Cyrus plays a fictional pop star, although her songs may seem strangely familiar – being upbeat rewrites of Nine Inch Nails tracks.

“Every song that she performs is a Nine Inch Nails song that we adapted into a pop standard”, explained show creator Charlie Brooker at a press screening. “That’s one thing that was in the script quite early on, but we had to get permission from Trent Reznor to do that and rewrite some of his tracks as upbeat pop songs. At the end, she does a fucking good job of doing ‘Head Like A Hole'”.

Of course, the lyrics of ‘Head Like A Hole’ – “Head like a hole / Black as your soul / I’d rather die than give you control” – don’t really lend themselves to upbeat pop, so Brooker tweaked them instead to “Hey there, whoa-ho, I’m on a roll / Riding so high, achieving my goals”.

“He got it straight away”, says Brooker of how broaching the idea to Reznor went. “It was via email and he was really happy. He wanted to see the script and I got to rewrite his lyrics in a chirpy way. I’m not the best lyricist in the world and there’s one point where she’s singing ‘I’m stoked on ambition and verve’ instead of ‘You’re gonna get what you deserve'”.

In fact, Reznor liked Brooker’s lyrical meddling so much, he’s now selling a t-shirt bearing the new ‘Head Like A Hole’ lyrics. No word on whether he will now also adopt these new words in his own performances.