"The Wretched" is the fourth track on the Left disc of The Fragile.
This is the original album version. Characterized by a simple drum machine loop and a low-octave piano melody backed by deep atmospheric synthesizers, the verses feature Reznor spitting out the vocals, soon joined by a distorted guitar melody. The repeated lyric, "It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to, did it?" builds into the chorus, where a new, quickly ascending guitar riff and a different drum patch and loop accompany the shouted vocals. New atmospheric loops join the re-entry of the verse motifs, which lead into a repetition of the chorus. The song's bridge consists of trading distorted guitar riffs above the verse drum patch and atmosphere, which give way to a simple melody. The chorus soon returns with a wah guitar solo on top, bring in the return of the chorus vocals, this time with Reznor interjecting between repetitions of "now, you know/this is what it feels like." After the final repetition, the verse atmospheres and drum loop return for a fading denouement and return of the bridge melody.
The vinyl edition of The Fragile has an extended ending, playing out much like it does live on And All That Could Have Been instead of the beat fading out under the melody as on the CD, it repeats four times and then stops, allowing the melody to repeat once more.
The Wretched (Instrumental)
Released exclusively through Apple Music as part of The Fragile Instrumental. Opening with the acoustic guitar riff featured prominently in the Things Falling Apart remix, the song proper retains the album arrangement, though its ending is the full version previously heard on the vinyl.
The Wretched (Version)
This remix starts with a very bassy intro before building to a loud, drum-heavy second verse. It eventually breaks down to just a guitar and the lyrics "Now you know/This is what it feels like" before building again towards the end, which drops back to the elements used in the intro along with what appears to be a live version of the end of the song from a concert in the distance.
The Wretched (And All That Could Have Been)
This live version is performed very similarly to the album version, but includes Jerome Dillon playing a tom-based beat on top of the electronic loop. During the bridge, Reznor whispers the lines "There is a place / In the back of my mind / Where I used to try."
Just a reflection Just a glimpse Just a little reminder Of all the what abouts And all the might have Could have beens Another day Some other way But not another reason to continue And now you're one of us The Wretched The hopes and prays The better days The far aways Forget it It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to It didn't turn out the way you wanted it, did it? It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to It didn't turn out the way you wanted it, did it? Now you know This is what it feels like Now you know This is what it feels like The clouds will part And the sky cracks open And God Himself Will reach His fucking arm through Just to push you down Just to hold you down Stuck in this hole With the shit and the piss And it's hard to believe It could come down to this Back at the beginning Sinking Spinning And in the end We still pretend The time we spend Not knowing when You're finally free And you could be But it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to It didn't turn out quite the way that you wanted it Now you know This is what it feels like Now you know This is what it feels like You can try to stop it but it keeps on coming You can try to stop it but