One of the most anticipated moments of the VMAs was Nine Inch Nails' performance of "The Fragile," the title track from their forthcoming double album, which is due out on September 21.
Performing a song from an LP that hasn't yet been released before a national audience is chancy enough, not to mention that "The Fragile" will be NIN's first album of new material since 1994's "The Downward Spiral." The band themselves (or at least their handlers) added more to the hype by teasing the album in commercials at last year's VMAs.
NIN leader Trent Reznor looked up to the task, however. Despite substituting the planned track, "We're In This Together" for "The Fragile," Reznor, sans instrument and backed by his usual guitar/bass/drums/keyboards configuration as well as singers and cellos, looked as if he was enjoying the performance, and he even appeared to crack a grin at one point.
By the sound of "The Fragile," it seemed that the past few years of boy-bands, rap-metal and countless magazine articles declaring alternative music dead never happened, at least in Reznor's world. And even if the song perplexed some in attendance, the NIN fans in the house and at home were no doubt pleased that Reznor has returned to challenge them.
For Reznor's VMA pre-show interview, check out "Trent Reznor: A Conversation With Kurt Loder."
Vote for the Viewer's Choice Award, see a timeline of MTV Video Music Awards history, and relive highlights of last year's event. And for more MTV Video Music Awards news, check out the MTV News VMA archive.