It’s been a weird year for Trent Reznor. And he didn’t have to do a thing.
It began in 2018 when a Dutch record producer named YoungKio constructed a beat based on “34 Ghost IV,” one of the tracks from the Nine Inch Nails album, Ghosts I-IV.
He then uploaded it to an online store that sold beats to other musicians. This, of course, wasn’t entirely legal; he was, after all, selling a beat based on an uncleared sample But who would know, right?
Later, Lil Nas X bought the file for US$30 and used it to create “Old Town Road” and all its subsequent versions. Because purchases from YoungKio’s store are made anonymously, he had no idea what was going on with “Old Town Road” until it showed up in an Instagram meme.
At some point in the viral and hit song lifespan of “Old Town Road,” Trent and composing partner Atticus Ross were made aware that a piece of this old composition was the foundation of the hottest hit songs in the universe,. Quietly and behind the scenes, Trent’s people contacted Lil Nas X. “Uh, excuse me,” they said. Now just as quietly, the names Reznor and Ross were added to the songwriting credits of “Old Town Road.”
Given the song stayed at #1 longer on the Billboard Hot 100 single charts longer than any other in the history of the universe (not to mention the tens of millions of streams that ensued), Trent and Atticus made a ton of cash. They can also legitimately say they were the co-writers of the most successful #1 pop hits of all time–which, essentially, is a Nine Inch Nails track.
And it doesn’t stop there. “Old Town Road”–specifically the remix with Billy Ray Cyrus–has been nominated for a Country Music Association award. So, yes, Nine Inch Nails could win big at the CMAs.
Trent and Atticus find this most amusing. Check out the Instagram post featuring then Photoshopped into an old press photo of country duo Brooks and Dunn.
Strange times, indeed.
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