We’ve all said things we regret on social media, but when you’re a public figure such as Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, those remarks linger around forever, even if you quickly move to delete them from the murky world of social media. Reznor found this out the hard way when he made disparaging remarks about the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell in 2009.
Reznor wasn’t the only person to have commented on Cornell through social media, and the context surrounded his bizarre collaboration with Timbaland. The Nine Inch Nails leader wasn’t alone in his confusion about the piece of work, and the general public largely reacted negatively towards their album, Scream. Nevertheless, Reznor instantly regretted his way with words about the project.
The world of music was surprised when it was announced that the two titans had come together, but Cornell wanted to test himself by experimenting outside of his comfort zone. Timbaland is one of the most successful producers of his generation, and for a period, everything he touched turned to gold.
On a commercial level, Cornell’s collaboration with Timbaland was a success and emerged as the highest-charting of his career — although it was met with disdain by the music press. In all likelihood, Cornell could foresee the reaction to the departure in his sound, and perhaps, he even enjoyed ruffling feathers.
Not long after the duo released the album, Reznor regretfully took to Twitter and harshly wrote: “You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell’s record? Jesus.”
After Cornell’s death, Reznor looked back on the incident during an interview with Rolling Stone and thankfully revealed that the Soundgarden frontman didn’t hold a grudge, which paints a picture of him as a man. Explaining his initial comment, Reznor said: “Seeing Chris do that record felt like a blow to me. I thought, ‘He’s above that, man. He’s one of the ten best vocalists of our time.’”
Reznor revealed that he “immediately regretted” posting the tweet and said he even sent Cornell a letter apologising for his actions, which he duly accepted. “He was very cool and generous about it – ‘It’s the past, fuck it. Let’s go on’. The Chris I met on that tour was a gentleman that completely had his shit together,” Reznor said.
Moreover, Timbaland remains immensely proud of the project and said in 2019: “I loved working on Scream with Chris. He is on the list as one of my favourite collaborators. When Chris walked into the studio, and I heard his lyrics, I knew we were going to make something special. I loved his voice. It was an honour to create Scream and blend his sound with my sound.”
Cornell would have had every right to have taken Reznor’s comments to heart and allowed them to disrupt their friendship. However, thankfully he was too mature for that, and they managed to get their relationship back on track.