The Top 10 Smashing Pumpkins Songs

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

In the early- and mid-’90s, it was hard for any brand or artist to break through, grunge had such a stranglehold on the popular music scene.

Jewel was able to do it. Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre were able to do it. And Smashing Pumpkins were able to do it, too.

The band was a behemoth in the 1990s. The group, which formed in 1988, released its debut LP, Gish, in 1991. Two humongous albums followed, Siamese Dream, in 1993 and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, in 1995. Fronted by Billy Corgan, the group, which has had members come and go since its height of stardom, released more music after that, but it was hard to live up to the giant reputation they’d created for themselves.

Nevertheless, Smashing Pumpkins has many songs that have been emblazoned in the ether. So, to celebrate the legendary rock band, we wanted to highlight their Top 10 songs of all time. (And for some new stuff, check out this recent video.)

1. “1979”

Join in if you know the words: Shake down! 19—–7—9—-!

This song was as ubiquitous as Michael Jordan in the mid-’90s. The track was released in 1996, the second single from the band’s album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995). Written by Corgan, it talks about the artists’ coming-of-age story.

2. “Tonight, Tonight”

The fourth single from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (more like infinite success, right?), “Tonight, Tonight,” a song about seizing the day, was released in May 1996 (in Europe first) and hit No. 1 in Iceland and No. 2 in New Zealand. It also hit No. 7 in the U.K. and No. 36 in the U.S.

3. “Ava Ador”

Contributing to the industrial vampire vibe that Corgan cultivated in the ’90s, “Ava Ador” is like a time capsule long buried in a sweaty, ecstasy-filled club from the last century. According to a DVD about the band’s music videos, the making of the video caused some controversy amongst the extras who had to sit there, take after take, while Corgan strutted around. Ah well. The cost of art. The song was the first single from the band’s fourth album, Adore.

4. “Stand Inside Your Love”

The second single from the band’s fifth LP, Machina/The Machines of God, which they released in 2000, “Stand Inside Your Love” was written about one of Corgan’s exes. He said, “It’s sort of a love song that rocks, which is pretty rare, even for me. And I even got my girlfriend dancing in the video, so it’s all a tribute to my girlfriend, I guess.”

5. “Thirty-Three”

A downbeat song driven largely by acoustic guitars and Corgan’s high-pitched voice, “Thirty-Three” was the fifth and final single from the 1995 LP, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, released in November 1996. It was also the first song to be released after the band fired drummer Jimmy Chamberlin (he is now back with the band) and the death of their touring keyboard player, Jonathan Melvoin.

6. “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”

The world is a vampire…

It’s a line we’ve heard one, maybe two million times. The lyric comes from “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” which was the lead single from the Smashing Pumpkins album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage!

It was the band’s first top-40 track, peaking at No. 22. Today, it’s an all-time rock hit.

7. “Today”

Another super memorable lyric: Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known

Truly, Corgan’s voice was everywhere in the ’90s. How did he handle it?

“Today” comes from the band’s second LP, Siamese Dream. Despite the song’s popularity, it had dark origins. Written, as the story goes, on a day in which Corgan was having suicidal thoughts, the upbeat nature of the music contrasts with the depression that the song’s lyrical content grapples with.

8. “Disarm”

Also from Siamese Dream, this song was the third single from the 1993 LP. It became a top-20 hit around the world. But those bells, that acoustic, and that strained voice—it’s as memorable as anything from the 1990s. There’s a killer in me, there’s a killer in you.

9. “Zero”

Featuring a distorted opening guitar riff, the song from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness features the memorable line: Wanna go for a ride?! According to reports, the production of the song includes six rhythm guitars, with two line-in twelve-string acoustics. That’s lush. Though it sounds like a buzz saw trying to eat a mixing board.

10. “Muzzle”

Rock music was soaked in the Smashing Pumpkins. This song from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is the epitome of the band. Buzzy, lush, weeping inside electricity. Check it out below.

Photo by Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images

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