Speaking with Beats 1's Zane Lowe, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor recalled the story behind his somewhat unique vocal performance on this haunting song:
"We find if we don't watch ourselves, we tend to try to get somewhere comfortable, because it feels better. And from the sound of the drums to the kind of frantic drumbeat to looking around the studio and seeing the untouched baritone tenor and alto sax that are sitting there, they're there because they remind me that I can't play them as well as I used to be able to. For 20 years, I've been saying I'm going to really get my technique back because it would be fun to do. And there they sit taunting me in the corner. We pulled them out and we just started f---ing around, really, led with Atticus [Ross] arranging.
An hour performance kind of turned into this thing that felt like we hadn't been there before and that started to reveal a whole different character. The space changed and then we felt motivated. When it came time to sing, I was really just trying things out, just to see. I never had the courage to sing like that; I didn't know I could sing like that."
The song was released as the lead single from Bad Witch. The EP's theme of America's social and cultural decline came from Trent Reznor's realization that the country's rise of tribalism is a result of people's online behaviour. He explained to The Guardian:
"We've got dumber, more tribalized; we've found niches of other people that focus on extremity. For the miracle of everyone sharing ideas, I see a hell of a lot more racism. It doesn't feel like we've advanced. I think you're seeing the fall of the empire of America in real time, before your eyes; the internet has eroded the fabric of decency in our civilization."
Bad Witch contains just six songs and clocks in at a little over 30 minutes. Its length suggests it's an EP, but Reznor marketed it as an LP, as EPs show up with singles on streaming services where they tend to get lost. The Nine Inch Nails frontman told Kerrang:
"What is an EP, anyway? No one could answer. Well, f--k it, let's call it an LP. Let's not charge any more, it's not a scam to rip people off, but let's just have it up here instead of down there."