“Suddenly, with that theme put right there, the whole film feels different, and weird, kind of, and you’re not sure what’s coming up, set against the visuals,” Reznor says.

But according to Reznor, when Fincher showed them the first thirty or so minutes of the movie, he’d used a very different song under the opening titles—an Elvis Costello and the Attractions song that Reznor says gave the sequence a “we’re on a college campus” feeling. Reznor doesn’t name the Costello song in his GQ interview, but in past interviews where he’s the Social Network score, he’s identified it as “Beyond Belief,” the leadoff track on Costello’s acclaimed 1982 album Imperial Bedroom.

Curious about how the title sequence of The Social Network would have played if Costello and the Attractions had ended up in the final cut? So were we—and it turns out the YouTube channel INDEPTH Sound Design had us covered, via this 2018 video, which paired the Social Network‘s credits sequence with the Costello song in question. (Skip to 6:06, right after Rooney Mara finishes brutally but accurately de-friending Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg.)

The Costello version (famously rearranged in the studio around an inspired one-take drum track by a hung-over Pete Thomas) makes it feel like we’re about to watch a completely different movie, one that will feel more The Breakfast Club than Fight Club. Hearing the same sequence set to “Hand Covers Bruise,” Reznor says, “was a huge moment of realizing the possibility of what could be done with music and film. Realizing how much, in a godlike way, you can influence how people feel about a thing. Wildly exciting to us.”

Reznor goes on to say that he finds the importance of providing a soundtrack of a film is less about the love of making music, and more so about tapping into the story of the film and the development of its characters, in this case, the isolation (and asshole-ness) of Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg. Where “Beyond Belief” offers up a more hopeful introduction to The Social Network, the final soundtrack highlights the anxiety, melancholy, and tension that Fincher builds throughout the film.

The threesome of Reznor, Ross, and Fincher would work together again across films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and Mank, and there’s no telling how different those films would’ve been had Nine Inch Nails not got their hands on them.

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