"Less Than" is a song by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, from their EP Add Violence. It was released on July 13, 2017 and the music video alludes to the video game Polybius, an urban legend about a video game used to data mine information from people to the government. On October 2017, it peaked at number 10 on the Billboard US Mainstream Rock Songs chart.

"Less Than"
Single by Nine Inch Nails
from the album Add Violence
ReleasedJuly 13, 2017 (2017-07-13)
FormatDigital download
GenreIndustrial rock[1]
LabelThe Null Corporation
  • Trent Reznor
  • Atticus Ross
Nine Inch Nails singles chronology
"Less Than"
"God Break Down the Door"
Music video
"Nine Inch Nails – Less Than" on YouTube


"Less Than" was announced and released as the lead single and opening track to the Add Violence EP on July 13, 2017.[2][3] The song's music video was released on the same day, and features a woman staring at a retro-styled video game with the song's lyrics showing up in gameplay.[4] The game featured is Polybius, created by British video game designer Jeff Minter and playable on the PlayStation 4 platform.[5] The video game itself is based on an urban legend of the same name—an alleged arcade game that existed in the 1980s which data mined people's personal information to the government—leading some publications to suggest a similarity in themes between the game and song.[5][6][7]

Themes and compositionEdit

Spin noted the similarities between "Less Than" and other Nine Inch Nails songs, such as there being similar lyrical refrains between it and 2013 single "Copy of A" ("Go and look what you've gone done" vs. "Now look what you've gone and done") and similarly structured and ominous choruses between it and 1990 single "Head Like a Hole", with both songs referring to "getting what one deserves".[8] The song starts off relatively upbeat and simple, and slowly becomes more ominous and cluttered.[9] Loudwire compared the song's sound to the band's Pretty Hate Machine-era material, noting that the song featured "a heavy synth base" and that "guitars still wail in the background over Trent Reznor's vocals ... a huge guitar chorus fires into focus, featuring a clean and catchy kind of riff". It also states that "things get noisy and weird as the song progresses, giving the best of both worlds with catchy, clean work found on the likes of With Teeth while also showing Reznor letting loose before an abrupt ending".[10] NPR described the song as having an "anthemic rock chorus".[11]


The song was generally well received by critics. Spin generally praised the song, calling it "comfort food for Trent Reznor fans" and concluding that it "may be the best that we can hope for from the mature, more dignified Nine Inch Nails in 2017."[8] Multiple journalists singled out the song as the best or standout track from the Add Violence EP.[2]



Chart (2017) Peak
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[12] 22
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[13] 10
US Rock Airplay (Billboard)[14] 21


  1. ^ "Review: Nine Inch Nails - "This Isn't the Place"". spin.com. 18 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Nine Inch Nails, Foster The People, and more in this week's music reviews". 2017-07-21. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  3. ^ "Nine Inch Nails announce Add Violence EP, share "Less Than": Stream". Consequence of Sound. 2017-07-13. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  4. ^ "The new Nine Inch Nails music video is set inside a real video game that you can play right now". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  5. ^ a b "Nine Inch Nails' latest video taps into gaming legend". Engadget. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  6. ^ Joho, Jess. "There's a really trippy story behind Nine Inch Nails' new music video". Mashable. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  7. ^ "The new Nine Inch Nails music video is set inside a real video game that you can play right now". Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  8. ^ a b "Nine Inch Nails' "Less Than" Review". Spin. 2017-07-13. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  9. ^ "Nine Inch Nails Preview 'Add Violence' EP With Driving New Song". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  10. ^ "Nine Inch Nails Release New Song 'Less Than,' Announce New EP 'Add Violence'". Loudwire. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  11. ^ "Listen: Nine Inch Nails Announces 'ADD VIOLENCE' EP, Shares Cinematic New Single". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  12. ^ "Nine Inch Nails Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "Nine Inch Nails Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  14. ^ "Nine Inch Nails Chart History (Rock Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved August 3, 2017.