I was a big fan of Nine Inch Nails' first album. When it came along, it seemed like just the kind of sound I had been looking for, without even knowing it. They had the energy of guitar rock but used mostly synthesizers. While labeled "industrial" because of their aesthetic, their early songs were more accessible (and closer to the pop song form) than the sometimes dreary output of bands like Front Line Assembly and Skinny Puppy.
I attended a Chicago show after their first album was released—they were the opening act. At the time, Nine Inch Nails' music came across as strongly countercultural. Fronted by Trent Reznor, NIN was loud, angry and did not fit the Top 40 mold in any way. Absorbing their dark themes at a Chicago venue, I never imagined the nilhistic anthem "Closer" would make the Billboard Hot 100.
NIN was a phenomenally successful band. But, as with many successes, we often miss the backstory. Since their first album "Pretty Hate Machine" is one of my favorites, I bought the remastered version. This inspired some curiosity, so turned to the ever-reliable YouTube and found this demo of "Twist," the song that would later become "Ringfinger".
Take note: it's not really that good, is it? The energy is there, the driving synth sound is there, but the vocals are weak and the lyrics are different (and inferior). No one can say for sure, but if Reznor released this song in its demo form, along with others in the same mediocre state (they're called demos for a reason) he might have had poor response, and perhaps given up right there and then. I, for one, would have been underwhelmed by the demo if that's all I had to go on.
Instead, he persisted.
He rewrote the lyrics, improved the backing tracks, polished his vocal delivery, and delivered a professional production. Another story in the value of persistence.