“Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails has been re-imagined by Canada’s SickKids Foundation. UPDATE: How this was made.

While “Hurt” is one of the most emotionally intense songs in the Nine Inch Nails canon, Johnny Cash took it to a whole new level with his cover. Now we have another version of the song that spins things in a completely different direction.

Canada’s SickKids Foundation has released its latest iteration of its SickKids Vs fundraising campaign with something called “This is Why.” The 140-second clip takes us through the hospital to see patients, their treatments, their recoveries and their setbacks. It’s pretty intense.

The whole thing was a creation of an audio agency called Pirate Toronto in conjunction with an ad agency called Cossette. Leader of the project was Mark Rajakovic. He explained to me in an email how this all came together.

“After a conversation with Director Mark Zibert, who has directed all of the Sick Kids spots, about what he was going to capture visually, the idea of trying to re-interpret ‘Hurt’ instantly came to me.

“For me, this song has always been about finding hope in a dark place. Plus, after Johnny Cash’s brilliant cover, I knew that the lyrics were capable of taking on new meaning, depending on who is performing them. My intention was to create a version of the song that was coming from the kid’s perspective.

“The recording process all started at home with me asking my 7-year-old daughter Isabella if she wanted to help me with something for work. She said, “Can I do it later?” (because I asked her while she was right in the middle of working on an art project) I said, “Of course.”

“Later that night, I recorded her as I sang the lyrics to her while she echoed my phrasing into the mic. Her very first take is what was used on the final version. A few days later I was fortunate enough to have some members of a non-profit children’s music program called, The Music Project, come into the studio to fill out the rest of the vocal arrangement.

“This version was recorded and mixed first, and then the agency (Cossette) sent it off to get Trent Reznor’s approval. Luckily, Trent heard it/saw it, along with a rough cut of the spot and approved this version right away.”

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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