Few feuds in rock history have been as weird as the one between Nine Inch Nails‘ mastermind, Trent Reznor, and Hole’s Courtney Love. Their rivalry, which spans decades now, was characterized by sharp words, allegations, and drama that seemingly came out of nowhere.
The origins of the feud are a bit murky. While both artists collaborated and toured together during the early 90s (Hole opened for Nine Inch Nails in 1994), things took a turn after Love claimed that she had had a romantic relationship with Reznor, a claim which Reznor vehemently denied.
The dispute grew more heated when Love went on to make more personal and scathing remarks about Reznor in interviews and her own music, telling Spin Magazine in 1995: “Don’t call your band Nine Inch Nails if you have a three-inch one.”
Reznor, not one to back down, responded in kind. He publicly dismissed Love’s accusations and took shots at her both directly and indirectly in various interviews and songs.
Trent let most of these emotions loose on The Fragile, having a few choice words for Love on the song “Starfuckers Inc.” Aside from the raw aggression that comes out of this song, Reznor claimed to have a pretty direct target this time around, saying:
“Starfuckers Inc. doesn’t fit in with the rest of that record, but it came from bits of lyrics I’d written over a long period and was focused at Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love. I’m not saying I haven’t fallen prey to this at times, but I think in their environment your priorities can totally flip before you realize.”
No punches were pulled with lyrics like My god comes in a wrapper of Cellophane/ My god pouts on the cover of the magazine/ My god’s a shallow little bitch trying to make the scene. The track even went so far as to use the hook from the old Carly Simon hit “You’re So Vain” and capped it off with a video that actually uses an actress dressed just like Courtney being thrown through the wringer.
As with many public feuds, media outlets, and fans eagerly picked sides, analyzing every word and action, looking for subtext in lyrics, and fueling the fire with speculation.
The peak of this animosity was during the mid to late ’90s, a time when both artists were at the zenith of their careers, and the rock scene was rife with various interpersonal dramas. However, as years went by, the public confrontations between the two seemed to dwindle, though traces of the discord could still be found in sporadic comments by Love, who as recently as 2021 went on a brief social media attack against Reznor, saying:
“As for Reznor, At least? HE’S talented but still a creep. I’ve never seen so much systemic abuse of kids, girls as young as 12, by him and his crew, we all (the members of Hole) witnessed it. So while these two jackasses are not my #metoo’s because I’m saving my 1 up (because we only get 1) they’re darn close.”
Almost as fast as Love posted the accusation on social media, she then turned around and issued this apology: “I need to apologize for my recent post. It was insensitive and it was wrong. No matter how I feel, there are real people behind my words and I need to learn to be more responsible with my words. I am truly sorry for those I’ve hurt and I will do better.”
Listen to the Nine Inch Nails diss track below: