The Smashing Pumpkins are in the midst of a theater tour with Liz Phair. The acoustic tour, called In Plainsong, features Billy Corgan, original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and version 2.0 guitarist Jeff Schroeder. On March 26, Iha joined the band onstage in Los Angeles, the first time the original member shared a stage with the band in 16 years. It’s only a matter of time before Darcy and/or Melissa Auf der Maur reenter the fold so the original lineup can cash in on a massive stadium level world tour.
The upcoming Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C. dates are sold-out. They sold-out quickly. Nearly 30 years after forming, Corgan and co. are still able to move thousands of tickets wherever they decide to play. The world is still their vampire.
The rock and roll project of Billy Corgan has released 8 official studio albums, 1 unofficial studio album, a box set, multiple EPs, 4 live albums, a few DVDs and hard-to-collect singles. We decided to rank most every song in the official cannon. All LPs, songs in the box set, EPs and B-sides that were officially released are included. The live versions and remixes are not. The demos included in expanded reissues are not included. Zwan, Corgan’s solo LP and soundtrack work, Iha’s 2 solo records, Chamberlin’s LP and Darcy’s work with Catherine and Filter are not included. If they were, Catherine’s “Four-Leaf Clover” would crack the top 20. It’s a great song.
The songs are catalogued by first appearance. For example, “Girl Named Sandoz” originally appeared on the Peel Sessions EP in 1992. It was also included on the Pisces Iscariot compilation in 1994. Therefore it’s “Girl Named Sandoz” from Peel Sessions EP in this ranking.
Inevitably, some songs have been left off. Due to different U.S., U.K. and international releases, there are holes. Certain songs, mostly demos originally released on singles, have been consciously omitted due to more fleshed out versions that appeared on albums.
Enough of the introduction. There’s a lot to digest. 243 songs are ranked below. From worst to best, here’s a completely biased retrospective of The Smashing Pumpkins.
243. “Pox” from American Gothic
Read the lyrics and you’ll agree.
242. “Dancing In The Moonlight” from Disarm
It’s worse to ruin someone else’s song than to fail at writing something new.
This track is on the same single as one of the band’s best covers: “Landslide.”
241. “Honeyspider II” from Moon
More of a studio fuckaround than song. Right? No thought was put in to this, right?
240. “For God And Country” from Zeitgeist
Is this political? Is this why the Statue of Liberty is on the cover? It is a very, very bad song.
239. “Spaced” from Pisces Iscariot
The B-side that inspired horrible teenage poetry.
238. “Starz” from Zeitgeist
With a z. Like the network.
237. “17” from Adore
236. “Again, Again, Again (The Crux)” from American Gothic
Worse than any Zwan song and it sounds like a Zwan song.
235. “Sunkissed” from American Gothic
This should have stayed a poem. The organ track makes it the best song on American Gothic, easily the worst release of the band’s career.
234. “Wildflower” from Oceania
When most bands sing about being wasted it’s about being fucked up. When Corgan does it it’s about spirituality and there are allusions of candles. It’s not very fun or deep.
233. “Summer” from Perfect
Is this a kids song?
The best Iha songs break up the monotony of hearing one voice. On their own, they’re easy to skip.
232. “The Ethers Tragic” from The End Is the Beginning Is the End
How many Batman & Robin B-sides are there?
231. “Not Worth Asking” from I Am One
Proof that the pre-Gish version of the band was not very good. They grew. A lot.
230. “The Rose March” from American Gothic
The first line of this song is, “La da da, la da da da da.”
229. “[Come On] Let’s Go!” from Zeitgeist
By 2005, they dropped the premise of pretending that they wanted to do anything else but solo.
228. “Bring The Light” from Zeitgeist
What a weird mix.
227. “A Stitch In Time” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 1: Songs for a Sailor
Just doesn’t work. Glad it’s on a little heard EP.
226. “Sad Peter Pan” from Sweet Relief II
What a great song title!
My cat hates this song, especially the intro. He thinks the flute is an enemy.
225. “Purr Snickety” from Pisces Iscariot
This one isn’t listed fairly. It wasn’t included on the regular Pisces disc, only the version with 2 extra tracks. Due to its exclusion, I wasn’t able to hear it until YouTube and other streaming music sites had every B-side super fans like myself couldn’t afford to hear without shelling out absurd amount of money on import CDs. It’s actually really good and would easily be in the top 100 if not for one song having to suffer to make a point. The point is import CDs made it easy to justify music listening practices that do not favor musicians on major labels.
224. “Neverlost” from Zeitgeist
Is that a xylophone? This is not jazz. Stop it.
223. “Believe” from 1979
Guess what? In doing this exercise I discovered I do not enjoy the music of James Iha.
222. “In My Body” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
The best aspect of this song is its placement on Machina II. It breaks the tension. Here it’s just a plodding cry for attention.
221. “Spangled” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 2: The Solstice Bare
This doesn’t need to exist but at least it’s short.
220. “Bugg Superstar” from Earphoria
If it’s not serious, it’s great. If it’s sincere, it’s horrible.
219. “Winterlong” from Judas O
It’s difficult to tell if this outtake is pretty OK or just bad.
218. “The Fellowship” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 2: The Solstice Bare
You’re either with us or against us. The lyrics tell us this. And the video game inspired synth part makes this sound silly.
217. “That’s The Way [My Love Is]” from Zeitgeist
Horrendous lyrics. “They say that life ain’t easy.” Ugh. But it’s a tight, under 4 minute rock song with good production so it’s not a complete waste of time. The, “Here we are, upon your stage,” line is what pushed it so far back.
216. “One Diamond, One Heart” from Oceania
Someone had fun playing with a synth!
215. “Pomp And Circumstances” from Zeitgeist
Maybe this is why Iha didn’t come back.
214. “Oceania” from Oceania
Lovers. Disgusting. And 9 minutes long. 9 minutes!
213. “Soot and Stars” from Judas O
Don’t sing about hangers on. No one has sympathy for rock stars.
212. “Pastachio Medley” from Zero
A collage of extended solos, outtakes, screeching guitars and more that’s a fun experience once, diminishing returns upon further listen.
211. “Farewell and Goodnight” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Jimmy Chamberlin sounds like a Muppet.
210. “Hope” from Still Becoming Apart
Other than the music played in clubs between or before sets, there isn’t much need for this Machina era B-side.
209. “Pinwheels” from Oceania
A happy ATM from the future?
208. “Bullet Train To Osaka” from I Am One
This begins as a David Lynch inspired instrumental before turning into a surf rock instrumental? Then it’s a modern rock jam?
207. “Death From Above” from Tarantula
Most everything wrong in Zeitgeist in one song. Weird vocal layers, weird harmonizing, a keyboard line that doesn’t need to exist, lyrics that means nothing and a much too long running time. So bad it was kept off the LP.
206. “Zeitgeist” from Tarantula
“I hear there’s a march, we should go.” William Corgan should not write protest music.
205. “Dorian” from Monuments to an Elegy
A TheFutureEmbrace outtake?
204. “Take Me Down” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Cheer up, dude.
203. “Blue Skies Bring Tears” from Machina/The Machines of God
I wish they only released the other version.
202. “Freak” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 2: The Solstice Bare
Billy Corgan is not an informed man but he means well. This is his environmental anthem.
201. “Terrapin” from I Am One
This live cover of a Syd Barret song has the bongos (ugh) in the front of the mix and the Iha vocals in the back. It’s actually a fun song and an interesting glimpse at a band not taking itself too seriously.
200. “Bleeding The Orchard” from Zeitgeist
This was the one Zeitgeist track I found myself going back to after many disappointed listens. I know it’s not good.
199. “Drum + Fife” from Monuments to an Elegy
This was a single. The music buying public can’t get enough songs about fifes in their rock and roll.
198. “Glass and the Ghost Children” from Machina/The Machines of God
Relax. You’re not actually a goth band.
197. “7 Shades Of Black” from Zeitgeist
It’s not offensively bad but it doesn’t need to exist.
196. “Tribute To Johnny” from Zero
An instrumental featuring chunky riffs and hair metal inspired solos. Guitar Hero 10 years too soon.
195. “Czarina” from Ava Adore
He’s drinking tea. This is a plug for his tea shop.
194. “Run2Me” from Monuments to an Elegy
This could be the closing music from one of those large ensemble movies about a holiday. This could be over the credits of a movie called Labor Day, after Diane Keaton and Robert Redford share a kiss that rekindles their marriage after a successful Labor Day barbecue that reunited their family.
193. “The Celestials” from Oceania
The golden age of film? Check. A nod to the season of summer? Check. Allusions to the messiah? Check.
192. “My Love Is Winter” from Oceania
This guy’s love has been so many things! In this song, it’s the season winter.
191. “Glissandra” from Oceania
You know how little kids make high pitched whirring noises simply to annoy everyone around them? That’s what the guitars sound like in this song.
190. “A Night Like This” from Bullet with Butterfly Wings
When Iha sounded like a Muppet.
189. “Rock On” from Judas O
A David Essex cover. It’s so easy to hate this band. A guilty pleasure. A true guilty pleasure.
188. “United States” from Zeitgeist
The intro is so good and the lyrics are so bad. So bad.
187. “Home” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
It’s too long, too distorted (which is possible) and too into itself. The chorus is its one redeeming aspect.
186. “Le Deux Machina (synth)” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
The band is coming to stage and that’s why this song is playing. You’re not going to enjoy it unless you’re preparing for a night of cocktails with your fellow vampires in a medieval castle.
185. “Because You Are” from Judas O
This Adore outtake has a different drum and guitar sound. And the bass is actually audible. It wouldn’t have fit on the album but it’s a fine track that doesn’t defer from the catalogue.
184. “Speed Kills” / “Speed Kills But Beauty Lives Forever” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
The whine is on full display and the analogies are horrible but I still love everything about it. I know it’s not great and that’s why it comes in so low. But it’s a fan favorite that goes on a few minutes too long because drums fills are cool. Only one version needs to be on the album.
183. “Why Am I So Tired” from Earphoria
A 15 minute instrumental that could soundtrack some trouble making cool kids at a county fair.
182. “Anaise!” from Monuments to an Elegy
That bass! That 1980s spaceship taking us to Los Angeles to hang out with Tommy Lee!
181. “Blank” from Tonight, Tonight
This one goes out to all my sad teens!
180. “Jupiter’s Lament” from Tonight, Tonight
An entry that makes it easy to mock the band. The acoustic track isn’t as sad or whiny as its title would suggest.
179. “Glynis” from No Alternative
The chorus is fantastic and the verses have a neat rising scale, but this Siamese outtake that also features a mandolin is fine as just an outtake.
178. “Infinite Sadness” from Rarities and Sadness
They made the right call on keeping this off the double album. The drums-in-the-front instrumental is fine but covers all the ideas the album openers does better.
177. “Sinfony” from Earphoria
This Siamese Dream outtake is fantastic but it’s less than a minute long. It could be a great outro or part of a song but instead it’s just another reminder the band’s unfinished demos are better than most greatest hits collections.
176. “With Every Light” from Machina/The Machines of God
Sure, some of the lines about heaven are bad, but it’s hopeful and this is a band that could use hope.
175. “Tom Tom” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 2: The Solstice Bare
This one is a grower. There’s nothing about it to make it stand out in the vast catalogue but the verses are punchy
174. “The Guns of Love Disastrous” from The End Is the Beginning Is the End
Did you ever wonder how the band wrote the theme to Batman & Robin? Wonder no longer!
It’s actually a worthwhile listen.
173. “Widow Wake My Mind” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 1: Songs for a Sailor
The song title comes from the lyrics. It’s not a good song title. But it’s a punchy and quick rock song that’s much lighter than the title would make you believe.
172. “French Movie Theme” from Cherub Rock
A cute B-side. If you disregard the spoken French, it’s a lovely little B-side. If you disregard the U.S. National Anthem it’s a great B-side.
171. “…said sadly” from Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Even Iha sings about lovers! Come on! At least Veruca Salt’s Nina Gordon is on the track. Without her, this is one of the worst songs of the bands from the 90s.
170. “Lightning Strikes” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope
More backup vocals by a woman, please. And please never use the word lover.
169. “Inkless” from Oceania
The guitars are strong in this one. Similar to Weezer’s green album, they mostly mirror the vocals, except for the overblown arena rock solos.
168. “G.L.O.W.” from G.L.O.W.
The chorus isn’t good but the rest of the song is. One of the final contributions with Chamberlin part 2, the 2008 single was mostly overlooked. It’s not great but it’s a nice reminder that the band still have new, worthwhile material.
167. “Stellar” from That’s the Way (My Love Is)
Why wasn’t this on Zeitgeist? It’s just as good as anything on the album, worlds better than “Starz.” And it sounds like a continuation from Machina II.
166. “Once in a While” from Ava Adore
This B-side features a mumble mouth sad Billy. The instrumentation is excellent, especially the drums and piano. This should have made the cut for Adore.
165. “A Song For A Son” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 1: Songs for a Sailor
Everything on paper about this song sounds horrible. The title, the project, the first line. But it kind of works. I think there’s a flute on the song. And it works. The piano line is subtle, the first electric guitar doesn’t come in until the second verse and it’s Zeppelin-esque. Not many SP punks have that. And as the first track in an ambitious song cycle, it warrants it’s overused puns.
It’s the spiritual sequel to “Tonight, Tonight.”
164. “Cherry” from 1979
A laid back, comfortable song without any cringe worthy lyrics. Except lover. Ugh.
162 and 163. “If There Is a God (piano/vox)” and “If There Is a God (full band)” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
The references to Bowie are great and the god is a woman lines are pandering. Each version is worthwhile and different. Glad they’re both on the double LP.
161. “Siamese Dream” from Disarm
Yes, there is a song called “Siamese Dream” and it’s not on Siamese Dream. Maybe the most psychedelic non-album track in the catalogue. The repetitiveness and vocal delay makes it stand out. With more work it might have been a classic. As is, it’s a throwaway that die hards love.
160. “In the Arms of Sleep” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
There are moments of beauty in this song, specifically Iha’s guitar part, but it acts as more of a warning of things to come.
159. “Stumbleine” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Sally’s in the stirrups? I thought Live was the go to band for songs about childbirth!
158. “Annie-Dog” from Adore
The first word in this song is amphetamine. It’s a lyrically ambitious song that needs a stimulant like amphetamine.
157. “Sparrow from Judas O
In addition to singing the word lover, Corgan loves to sing about the summer. Even in sad songs, he wants you to know about summertime.
156. “Soothe” from Disarm
This should not have opened the B-sides compilation Pisces Iscariot. It’s far too maudlin and self-indulgent on an otherwise fun and loud collection.
155. “Bye June” from Lull
The acoustic track sounds like a one take, off-the-cuff paint by numbers, early 90s Pumpkins track. It’s not bad.
154. “Smiley” from Peel Sessions
A demo with a lot of confidence, “Smiley” didn’t have a home on Siamese Dream and was much too relaxed for Gish. A solid song that doesn’t fit the idea of whatever grunge is.
153. “Innosence” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
The two-and-a-half minute track helped move the story along and kept things short and sweet on Machina II but didn’t leave a mark.
152. “Blew Away” from Disarm
A summery, jangly, relaxed B-side, one of Iha’s best. But that line about waking up inside someone? Ew. Before I realized that line, this was in the top 20. But now I can’t unhear it. Only Björk should sing about that.
151. “The Crying Tree of Mercury” from Machina/The Machines of God
A slog of a track. But it helps tell the story of Machina so it’s placement is justified.
150. “Cottonwood Symphony” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 2: The Solstice Bare
Depending on how you feel about Corgan’s vocals, this is either a delightful ditty reminiscent of what he was trying to do on some unreleased early 00s solo or self-indulgent reminiscing on an era he didn’t even live through. I think it’s delightful.
149. “Astral Planes” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 1: Songs for a Sailor
This could be the score of a competent action movie scene.
148. “Owata” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope
The video with wrestler Raven moves this song up in the ranking. The bridge is what keeps it from a better spot.
147. “The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete” from Adore
The second best song that you’ll ever hear at a Renn Fest.
146. “My Mistake” from Judas O
Before the “Come back to me, my mistake” part it sounds like Corgan intentionally mumbles, maybe putting in placeholder sounds to write lyrics later. Other than that, it’s a pretty interesting B-side.
145. “Teargarden Theme” from Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 1: Songs for a Sailor
Not enough modern bands employ a harpsichord. This 2010 instrumental is the best thing about the first part of the Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project.
144. “Obscured” from Today
Pisces Iscariot is more listenable than Gish. This helps. “Obscured” doesn’t sound like anything on either the first record or Siamese Dream. The song is sonically interesting but it does help break up the monotony and heavy drama.
143. “Vanity” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
Why is Vanity standing naked at his door? Take away the creepiness and this is a fantastic song.
142. “Monuments” from Monuments to an Elegy
A comforting aspect of the current band is the lack of trying to be cool. This is not a cool song and it’s better for it. But Jesus Christ, stop using the word lover. Change the lyric and this is easily in the top 50 and doesn’t creep anyone out.
141. “Blue” from Lull
A great bass line and great use of floor toms. The bridge takes you out of it, a letdown that comes a bit too early.
140. “The Chimera” from Oceania
What a fun riff! There guys are riffin all over the place and it’s very fun to riff along! Corgan without Chamberlin, Iha, Darcy and Auf Der Maur tends to need reining in and this is a good example. The riffs are excellent and the drums are lackluster, the lyrics are the opposite of deep and the reason for this song to exist is unknown. But the riffs! Fun riffs!
139. “Violet Rays” from Oceania
There goes Billy singing about kissing! He sure does love to smooch!
138. “Being Beige” from Monuments to an Elegy
There’s a piano part that sounds like the music for a soap opera. It’s a great touch to a pretty good song. But the word lover, ugh, stop writing songs with that word.
137. “Anti-Hero” from Monuments to an Elegy
This has all the things that make the modern band interesting and awful. The drum flourishes are shit. The lyrics are borderline creepy. The guitars sound fantastic, just as ambitious 25 years after the bands origin.
136. “”The Last Song”” from Thirty-Three
The subtle vocals are a nice aspect of a pleasant, quiet but not stripped down B-side.
135. “To Forgive” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
“I forget to forget, nothing is important” places this otherwise solid song in the 100s. Corgan and the band had ambition. Bands without ambition do not release double albums so it’s insincere grunge-inspired posing does not age well.
134. “Slunk” from Lull
Stronger than most Gish songs but not on the record. Some paint by numbers Pumpkins but the drums are quite strong.
133. “Pulseczar” from Earphoria
This is a solo track with the band’s name. It’s a simple guitar line with a phaser and a single vocal track, possibly with a phaser on it too. Even now, a simple Corgan album with just an electric guitar track and one vocal track a la Neil Young’s Le Noise would be welcomed.
132. “Whir” from Pisces Iscariot
I thought this was another song about being buried. I was wrong. It’s about being afraid to have a kid. There are more songs in the Pumpkins catalogue about being buried than being a father.
131. “Snail” from Gish
One of many Gish songs from the same template. The blueprints for all future great songs are here but all of the elements are slightly off.
130. “Beautiful” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
An example of Mellon Collie not needing 2 discs but pleasing fans like me who really enjoy outliers. The vocals from Corgan and Iha run the gamut from whisper singing to a screeching wail. There’s ‘found’ noise, a toy piano, an expanded drum kit and a mix that pans throughout. “Beautiful” is a spastic collage of beautiful garbage.
129. “The Bells” from Thirty-Three
Lots of acoustic guitars, talk of Jesus, a string section, a prominent piano, Iha singing and Darcy sighing. Where does this fit in? It’s very pretty but I have no idea what it’s about.
128. “The Boy” from 1979
A concise pop song about a boy being in love. Iha did well with this “1979” B-side.
127. “Window Paine” from Gish
There they go again, singing about being buried!
126. “Blue Skies Bring Tears (heavy version)” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
The word lover. A reference to silent movies. Drums up front in the mix and everywhere. A note about the end of the world. Is there a song better indicative of the Machina era than this?
125. “Bury Me” from Gish
This band has an obsession about being buried and kisses!
More great drums and more subpar riffage.
124. “Meladori Magpie” from Tonight, Tonight
Why couldn’t more Pumpkins’ songs go in this sad Americana route? If this song didn’t have the worst and most overused word Corgan adores, lover (ew), it’d be in the top 20.
123. “Set The Ray To Jerry” from 1979
Another sad Mellon Collie era band that doesn’t get too sad. It’s the rare mid tempo track with interesting drums and finger picking pattern.
122. “Tales of a Scorched Earth” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The intro to this song is good as the intro to “Cherub Rock.” But the line, “Let me know the way from of this world of hate in you,” is when you have to pretend you can’t understand the lyrics because the world truly is a vampyre.
121. “Shame” from Adore
How long can you sing the word shame?
If you’re a sad person in a new city, you may fall in love with this song.
120. “Suffer” from Gish
It just keeps on building and building and building before finally getting to a breakdown but wait, what is that, is that a flute? Does this song have a flute on it?
119. “This Time” from Machina/The Machines of God
Another Machina track that shoots for the moon but comes up a little short. If the sound wasn’t as epic as the lyrics, it might have been a bigger success. Or maybe if it wasn’t advocating for a straight edge lifestyle it’d be higher in the ranking.
118. “Superchrist” from Fresh Cuts: Volume 2
Never heard of this 2008 song? Maybe because it first appeared on a compilation only available at Guitar Center, a compilation that otherwise only featured songs by Guitar Center employees. And that’s a shame because the 7 minute song is very good. The vocals don’t kick in until it’s halfway over. It’s mostly just badass riffing and badass drumming, the kind of song people that hang out in Guitar Center really dig.
117. “La Dolly Vita” from Tristessa
This is kind of a cool song. The Smashing Pumpkins are not a cool band. James may be cool, but the rest of these nerds? Nope. Actually, James was not cool either. No one was cool. But this is kind of a cool song.
116. “Try, Try, Try” / “Try, Try, Try (alt music/lyrics)” from Machina/The Machines of God and Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
This was a single. Why thought this would work as a single? And who thought a Jonas Åkerlund video about a heroin addicted couple would make people want to buy the single? What the hell does that have to do with Detroit? Why is the band singing about Detroit?
Sometimes it gets stuck in my head.
The alternate version is an interesting listen for fans of the bands but easy to skip as a casual listener. It doesn’t subtract or add anything to the original. It’s merely a neat insight into the lyric process for the band.
The reason why this counts as 1 entry and not 2 like “Here’s To The Atom Bomb” is both of these versions are essentially the same. There aren’t any major differences other than the lyrics.
115. “Ugly” from 1979
Hand snaps! An underutilized tool in the band’s large arsenal. Lyrically, the song isn’t horrible, just a few lines. It’s difficult to find sympathy for the millionaire rock star, especially one who leads a very public life (anyone who has appeared on Stern multiple times qualifies as public). But if you can disconnect the personal from persona, it’s a great outlier in the Mellon Collie era. The bridge gets a little gothy, the simple drums touches are reminiscent of Genesis and the chunky guitar strums are New Order influenced.
114. “Luna” from Siamese Dream
He’s not lazy. If he is lazy, why should we care? Is he in love or lazy? What is it?
The song benefits from the strings and sitar.
113. “Wound” from Machina/The Machines of God
Hate Corgan’s screech? Boy, you must hate this one! It’s up front and there’s a prominent acoustic and a weird keyboard part. If you like the screech, it’s a nice Machina track.
112. “Real Love” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
The only track from Machina II on the band’s greatest hits album Rotten Apples. It’s fine.
111. “Waiting” from Judas O
Billy Corgan should not sing about “the underground.” Take away that horrible line in the first verse and this would crack the top 50. Maybe it should have been held back for his solo LP.
110. “Dreaming” from Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Darcy is great at covers. She knows her range. She absolutely pulls off a slower, more subtle Debby Harry on this Blondie cover. Billy’s part is good too. It’s not higher due to Darcy’s second verse delivery. It’s weird. It hurts the song.
109. “Christmastime” from A Very Special Christmas 3
This is sincere. I remember hearing it in Super K-Mart with my best friend around 1 a.m. We were 16 and had nothing to do and decided to go to a diner and then wander around Super K-Mart because there’s not much else to do when you’re 16 and underachieving. I love this song and can not be objective about it.
108. “Glass’ Theme (spacey)” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
Do sound engineers hate this record? Love it? Is this a dream or nightmare? The drums peak before they’re even hit. The vocals are processed to make Corgan sound like an angry future robot. The guitars are nearly inaudible. There may not be a bass track. The not spacey version made the top 20 and this one is also very, very good.
107. “Pale Horse” from Oceania
This ranking project began in early 2015 and “Pale Horse” has been slipping back in the ranks month by month. It sounds like a Zwan outtake but the production is interesting enough to warrant multiple listens. The band doesn’t have many narrative songs and relies on pronouns far too much, but “Pale Horse” kinda of tells the story of a friend on thorazine, a drug used to treat schizophrenia and manic-depression.
106. “Tristessa” from Tristessa
God damn, Jimmy Chamberlin is a good drummer. This is a very basic song about nothing in particular and the drums make it extremely listenable. The pre-chorus guitars are high school band level bad but then the drums return to once again redeem a not very well thought out Gish track.
105. “Galapogos” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
This one hasn’t aged very well. It’s incredibly powerful if you’re a teenager. It’s still great in your early 20s. If you’re 33 and in love with this as much as when you were 15, things are not going well. But like most things you loved as a teenager, there are still redeeming qualities. The breakdown at minute 3 is a lovely little pieces of understated transition music before the big wave of dramatic guitars at 3:25.
104. “Medellia of the Gray Skies” from Tonight, Tonight
The way this song was recorded makes it seem like the vocals were just placeholders. And that’s why it’s a B-side. But it’s a B-side from the band’s artistic peak.
103. “Go” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
Iha is a worse singer than Corgan so this Machina II track benefits from buried vocals and guitars that feedback from the start. The lyrics don’t really matter but they way in which they’re delivered act as almost a third guitar line.
102. “For Martha” from Adore
This one makes me tear up. The live version he played with his dad at the band’s (version 1.5 (Billy, James, Jimmy, Melissa) penultimate show at United Center would be in the top 10 if we ever do a SP live roundup. The dual feedback section really does it to me. Songs about dead moms really get to me. It’s not higher because I don’t usually like to be on the verge of tears while listening to The Smashing Pumpkins.
101. “Slow Down” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
This song would have been in the top 20 if this list was made 15 years ago. As an adult with a job and responsibilities the B-side about people with jobs rushing to catch trains isn’t as poetic. Get a fucking job, bro.
100. “I of the Mourning” from Machina/The Machines of God
I’m not sure if I liked this song when it was released and 16 years later I’m still not sure. Is it super self indulgent? A nice love letter for a time past? Somewhere in the middle? It was a modest radio hit in Chicago thanks to the multiple times Corgan sings, “Radio, radio, please don’t go.”
99. “The Sacred And Profane” from Machina/The Machines of God
The opposite of “Crush,” this Machina track shoots for the moon and mostly succeeds. More self indulgent lyrics, too many guitar tracks to keep count and Corgan harmonizing with himself to get the most Corgan possible.
98. “Crush” from Gish
The band never really tried to sound like their Gish sound after Gish. “Crush” wouldn’t even be a B-side post Siamese Dream and it’s a shame. Simplicity isn’t bad and “Crush” is pretty simple.
97. “Tiberius” from Monuments to an Elegy
The Pitchfork review of Monuments to an Elegy pointed out why the 2014 Pumpkins was so easy to digest. The album is only 33 minutes long. Most every song comes in at the 3 minute mark.
96. “Age of Innocence” from Machina/The Machines of God
This was going to be the band’s goodbye song, right? It has to be. Boy, that would have been nice: a positive message, a positive sound, a nice ending to a very impactful decade.
95. “Apples + Oranjes” from Adore
The drums on this track scream 1998. The most ‘techno’ sounding song on Adore (I feel like an old man writing techno but this was supposed to be the bands techno album), it’s a more aggressive “1979” with even vaguer lyrics.
94. “Heavy Metal Machine” / “Heavy Metal Machine (version 7)” from Machina/The Machines of God and Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
On paper, this is the coolest song from Machina. In reality, it’s long, stomping march towards oblivion. It’s an ear worm on a riff. The alternate version is just as good/bad as the officially released track. The only difference is “(version 7)” sounds like you’re waiting in line for the Batman ride at your local Six Flags.
“Would my records sell?” What a horrible line.
93. “One And All” from Monuments to an Elegy
There is some good stuff from the modern Pumpkins era! This is proof. The guitars sound great and Tommy Lee’s drumming is competent. The repeated line, “We are so young,” is another example of a the band’s humor. Or they’re nuts. Whatever. I dig it.
92. “We Only Come Out At Night” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Is this horrible or great? I do think the band has a sense of humor, therefore it’s great. It sounds like a harpsichord is farting in a funeral dirge in a major key. Love it.
91. “God” from Zero
Oh, the teens must have loved this one! Some deep drumming, call and response vocals, enough distortion to upset every suburban parent and it’s title is “God.” Does any song in the catalogue pander to teenagers more?
90. “Marquis In Spades” from Zero
The vocals are buried. The vocals are never buried in Pumpkins’ songs. And the lyrics are not horrible. Another B-side better than most rock band’s singles.
89. “To Sheila” from Adore
The only song in the list to prominently feature a banjo that deals with the loss of a parent.
88. “Soul Power” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
Did the Pumpkins need to cover a James Brown song? No. Do most people dislike it? Probably. I love it. It doesn’t sound anything like the original, which is a fantastic song, and that’s perfectly fine. This song does not need to exist, doesn’t move Machina II forward but doesn’t take away from its overall vision. So unnecessary. It’s trolling before trolls trolled.
87. “White Spider” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
If the band takes a hiatus rather than breaks up and stays quiet for a decade or so, this would have been picked up as a single and praised for it’s recording technique. Instead it’s a song that’s been overlooked by people that would love it. Fans of Wolf Eyes, My Bloody Valentine and Kylesa are missing out on this one.
86. “Behold! The Nightmare” from Adore
If this opened Adore the album may have been better received. This hits all the epic notes on Mellon Collie. It has multiple movements. The lyrics are vague enough to connect to teenagers, unlike the songs that are just about Corgan’s mother’s passing (not that this one doesn’t have the line about digging roses from a grave). The ambition is on full display and for the first time in the band’s career, the whining sounds warranted.
85. “Cupid De Locke” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Does the song open with a harp? I think it’s a harp. What other alternative band featured a harp? On a double album? This is the opposite of Alice in Chains.
84. “By Starlight” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Jesus Christ, how many epic songs does Mellon Collie have?
83. “Girl Named Sandoz” from Peel Sessions
A cover the band made theirs. A psychedelic song that the band wishes was theirs.
82. “Transformer” from Thirty-Three
This may be the biggest B-side ear worm in the catalogue. A laid back throwaway with grating Corgan vocals and lyrics that sound like placeholders. One of their best.
81. “Daydream” from Gish
Darcy didn’t sing enough.
This would be higher on the list if the ‘secret’ song on Gish wasn’t attached. “Mother fucking crazy.”
80. “Let Me Give The World To You” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
If this closed Adore the album wouldn’t have been considered such a downer. Oh well. Another great B-side from a great album.
79. “Frail and Bedazzled” from Pisces Iscariot
Corgan has never been more wrong than the first two lines of this B-side. “Say, now listen here/I wanna be oh so clear.” The man has yet to be clear about anything. That’s not bad.
78. “Sweet Sweet” from Siamese Dream
Short and sweet, pun intended.
77. “Lily (My One And Only)” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Corgan wanted to be a performer in the 20s and 30s and wrote this song as proof.
Men’s rights activists think this is a very romantic song.
76. “Plume” from I Am One
A bored Corgan not taking himself too seriously. A true B-side with a line that could describe the band: “My boredom has outshined the sun.”
75. “Crestfallen” from Adore
This one always gets away from the band, bordering on too much woe-is-me before being pulled back from sadness abyss. Songs about recently deceased moms have every right to be this sad. Was Corgan writing about something that was too close? Absolutely. Was it healthy? Maybe. Does the album benefit from his grieving? Yes.
74. “Tarantula” from Zeitgeist
A paint-by-number guitar sound that’s always welcome. It’s like a good burger. You’re not going to rave about it but you’re always going to like it. Bonus points for the single cover.
73. “Pissant” from Cherub Rock
“Got me a ray gun” is all you need to know about this very short, very distorted rocker.
72. “Tear” from Adore
After leaning so heavily on Chamberlin’s drums, this standout from Adore afforded for a looser, jazzier feel than previous releases. Lyrically it’s dark and sad and scary and full of mourning.
71. “Rotten Apples” from Tonight, Tonight
The “Tonight, Tonight” single had the perfect amount of maudlin sentimentality in the right doses. A little more than 3 minutes, “Rotten Apples” isn’t long enough to wallow and short enough to not worry about the mental health of its songwriter.
70. “The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)” from Thirty-Three
Such a wonderful title, such a great song, such a horrible use of a personal tape.
The kind of song that makes you want to start a band.
69. “Where Boys Fear To Tread” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
On another day, this could be #1. Or #100.
Sonically, it’s the simplified version of Siamese Dream. There isn’t layers of guitar or odd production techniques, just a very solid song that appeals to adolescents.
68. “Raindrops + Sunshowers” from Machina/The Machines of God
The more distance from the release of Machina, the better this song becomes. The best bass line the band had in the 00’s, more jungle drumming from Chamberlin and all of the vocal tics that make people love or loathe Corgan.
67. “Stand Inside Your Love” from Machina/The Machines of God
What the hell is this song about? It’s great after a long absence and nonsensical in regular rotation. It’s a curveball single, a standout on some days, a disappointment when you know it’s coming. It has a sweet spot in my heart for sentimental reasons. Without sentimental reasons, this band isn’t as relevant.
66. “Daphne Descends” from Adore
The guitar sustain makes this song a studio feat. It’s also shows a lot of lyrical growth and a knowledge of when to rein it in.
65. “Panopticon” from Oceania
The second song on Oceania is the second best song of the band has released in this decade.
The title sounds like it’s a delicious Italian dessert.
64. “Love” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
You guys like phasers? How about flangers? How about talkboxes? And lyrics that angsty teens can relate to because love, ya know?
63. “The Everlasting Gaze” from Machina/The Machines of God
The introduction to Melissa Auf Der Mar on bass (at least on stage, she’s not on the album), a return to an aggressively loud sound after the mourning on Adore and Chamberlin back behind the kit. Sounds like a huge hit, a great combination of things that work. Then the bridge comes and Corgan kinda, sorta raps and this song is no longer in the top 50.
62. “The Imploding Voice” from Machina/The Machines of God
The most accessible song from Machina and it wasn’t even a single. It has a lot of the bands staples, strong drums, drop d tuning, lyrics about the character Glass, layers upon layers of distortion.
61. “Landslide” from Disarm
This is ranked reluctantly high. It’s a very, very good cover of one of Fleetwood Mac’s most overrated songs.
60. “Pennies” from Zero
One of Corgan’s best stories that could be sung by performers like Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young. Rarely does the band ever actually tell a story and this short, under 2-and-a-half minute ode to a gone girl is a well executed, catchy tune.
59. “Blissed and Gone” from Still Becoming Apart
What would have been the best song on Corgan’s solo debut TheFutureEmbrace was instead an Adore B-side.
58. “Apathy’s Last Kiss” from Today
Proof that there are no throwaways for the group. The under 3 minute song sounds like sketches for 4 different songs strung together with a placeholder poem.
57. “Mouths of Babes” from Zero
If the start of the song wasn’t dumb fuckery, the tight, mid-tempo B-Side would have broken into the top 50. Corgan isn’t good at singing about revolution, but when it comes vague illusions about nothing involving young people, it works. The hook also has the ability to get stuck in the listener’s head.
56. “X.Y.U.” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
This song has moved from the top 20 to top 30 before landing here. It’s either a glorified B-side showcasing the band truly not giving a fuck or a 7 minute song that is trying way too hard to be a rocker. It’s a song that’s rarely intentionally played but never skipped.
55. “Doomsday Clock” from Zeitgeist
The first 26 seconds of the first track of the reunion albums gives the impression that the new band is continuing what they started with Machina II. Then the vocals hit and it goes from great and OK. The lyrics are not good. The drums are great. The guitars are good to great so it’s relatively high on the list.
54. “My Blue Heaven” from Thirty-Three
A piano, violin and vocals. No guitars, no bass, no drums. If Corgan’s solo career was as good as this, we wouldn’t be in the midst of the second run of the band.
53. “Muzzle” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
If this ranking was done by a 14-year-old rather than a 33-year-old, “Muzzle” would be number 1.
After they performed this song on Late Night with Conan O’Brien the band sat for a short interview and they ate Twizzlers and this is proof that bands made up of people in their 20s should not be guests that get to speak on late night shows.
52. “I Am One” from Gish
Is a solo necessary before the first verse? No. Are songs about god a good idea when you’re trying to appeal to a college rock crowd? Probably not. The third single from the first Pumpkins record is proof that the band is for suburban teenagers, not cool My Bloody Valentine fans that live in cities.
51. “Untitled” from Rotten Apples
Released on the night of the penultimate Pumpkins’ final show with the original lineup, it was meant to prove that the band still had “it.” It did its job. Equal parts Gish, Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and no Adore, Machina or Machina II, the song has clear vocals, an acoustic guitar, guitar solos that don’t push the board into the red, a strong bass line reminiscent of early demos and drums that could only come from Chamberlin.
50. “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” from Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Another near perfect cover. The only reason it’s not higher on the list is it isn’t nearly as different as The Cars’ original, unlike the next song.
49. “Never Let Me Down Again” from Rocket
The Depeche Mode cover should have been as big as Nirvana’s “Marigold,” another song that wasn’t on any official band album. This version is slower, substitutes an interesting guitar picking pattern for synthes and simplifies an already great song. Covers like this play to all of the band’s strengths without distracting from the original.
48. “Siva” from Gish
Pretty solid bass line from a band that does everything it can to hide bass lines.
47. “Saturnine” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
A slow dirge with a tape hiss. Clear guitar notes and muddied vocals. The best kind of SP ugly.
46. “Thru the Eyes of Ruby” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
What you want your life to sound like if you’re in a movie like Moulin Rouge!. If your life actually sounds like this song, you need mood stabilizers and less flangers.
45. “Rhinoceros” from Gish
Early, simple epic psychedelic Pumpkins. Not as many drum fills, not as varied vocal tics and a little more My Bloody Valentine influence.
44. “Starla” from I Am One
What other band has so many 5, 6, 7 and 10+ minute songs that doesn’t jam? There’s beauty in the monotony of the scales. This is a beautiful song. Since it tackles Corgan’s favorite subject, home, it’s an even more beautiful song and in the top 50.
43. “Dross” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
What a great sleeper not-hit. Machina II may be the closes the band ever got to Ziggy Stardust and it’s because of strong, short entries like this that hold the concept together.
42. “Spaceboy” from Siamese Dream
This track about Billy Corgan’s autistic half-brother is a simple, acoustic guitar driven before the strings and drums hit. It evolves into an uplifting reminder about brotherly love that I’m surprised hasn’t been used in an online dating commercial featuring two astronauts looking for love.
41. “Hummer” from Siamese Dream
If this ranking was done by a 16-year-old rather than a 33-year-old, “Hummer” would be number 1.
40. “Destination Unknown” from Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Another fantastic cover that the band made their own. Their Mellon Collie B-sides are better than most bands best singles.
39. “Zero” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Billy Corgan’s favorite word (lover), fun with feedback and harmonics, under 3 minutes, allusions to Jesus Christ and you got yourself a hit!
Corgan famously wore the Pumpkins’ ZERO shirt. No other rock star did that. He did it in the mid 90s. Now every wrestler wears their own shirts. Why? Because they get a cut of the sales. It’s about selling product. It’s always been about selling product. Kudos, Corgan. Get that t-shirt money.
38. “Disarm” from Siamese Dream
The bells make the song. The cellos make it better.
37. “Here Is No Why” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
A slow burn introspective track that would have been a B-side in the Siamese era but thanks to the bloated double disc it gets a chance to shine. Some of the bands best lyrical imagery.
36. “Geek U.S.A.” from Siamese Dream
Multiple solos! We do really love the U.S.A.
35. “The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning” from Music from and Inspired by the Batman & Robin Motion Picture
The last track on the Batman & Robin album is this sequel to “The End Is The Beginning Is The End.” It’s listed highly because of its relation to entry 35 and its use in The Watchmen trailer.
34. “The End Is The Beginning Is The End” from Music from and Inspired by the Batman & Robin Motion Picture
A hilariously bad video, absurd bad/good lyrics and the biggest band in the world with a new drummer. Add in sexy Batman and sexy Robin and you get a song that’s either brilliant, horrible or brilliantly horrible. It’s great.
33. “Lucky 13” from Judas O
Does this exist so Jimmy Chamberlin can show off with drum fills? Probably. Who cares? It sounds like a vampire is learning how to use a synth and a dude with a shitload of guitar pedals is taking out the mid range on all of them.
32. “Once Upon A Time” from Adore
The best Smashing Pumpkins song that could be heard a Renn Fest.
31. “Hello Kitty Kat” from Today
B-sides shouldn’t sound this good. A great example of what this band is. Dominant drums, fuzzy guitars, buried bass lines, abstract lines about love, difficult to comprehend lyrics and a solo that takes advantage of varied guitar tones.
30. “Clones (We’re All)” from Bullet with Butterfly Wings
The highest ranked of the covers, this B-side from “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” puts a controlled spin on the Alice Cooper track. It’s clear Corgan knew his rock history with this cover, it’s placement in the bands catalogue and how to band was lumped with other acts in the Lollapalooza era.
29. “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Even without setting the table for the biggest and best double album of the 90s, this nearly 3 minute piano driven instrumental would hold its own. A great piano line, a string section that screams nostalgia and keyboards that bring you back to reality. It’s hard to imagine this song without “Tonight, Tonight” and that’s a wonderful thing.
27 and 28. “Here’s To The Atom Bomb” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music and Judas O
Both version of this B-side are fantastic. A laid back, adult version of the Pumpkins. Imagine Corgan going on tour with a 12-string and a Groovebox and you’d have a pretty interesting Americana meets urban decay sound. Just like that last sentence, this song doesn’t really mean much but it is fantastic and another glimpse into what could have been.
26. “Fuck You (An Ode To No One)” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Fuck you, Spotify. The official title is “Fuck You (An Ode To No One),” not “An Ode To No One.
This was every teenager’s favorite Pumpkins song that bought Mellon Collie before listening to Mellon Collie.
25. “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
What a bullshit, bloated, stupid song title for a bullshit, bloated, stupid 9 minute, 22 second song that absolutely works. Are the 2 minutes of this song necessary? No. Do they help make this song justifiably an epic? Absolutely. It takes a lot of balls to make this type of music.
24. “Drown” from Singles
The Smashing Pumpkins connection to the Seattle scene was their inclusion on the soundtrack to a romantic comedy set in Seattle that featured members of Pearl Jam. Between Gish and Siamese Dream, “Drown” finds the band embracing four minutes of noise (the stupid single version cuts out the extended distortion solo and that’s stupid) and a sentiment that’s actually kind of sweet and realistic.
23. “Cherub Rock” from Siamese Dream
If you’ve ever listened to this song more than once in a day you’ve had the, “Let me out,” line stuck in your head. If you’ve listened to it more than twice in a day you’ve had the opening drum roll stuck in your head.
22. “Pug” from Adore
Why wasn’t this a big hit? I purchased Adore the day it came out and played this incessantly. It’s got a unique hook, the kind of lyrics sad teens adore (pun intended) and a dumb solo that may or may not have been made with guitars.
21. “Ava Adore” from Adore
Why couldn’t this have been the start of a sound rather than an outlier? The first single from Adore kind of sounds like the fantastic “Eye” and not much like the last single from Mellon Collie, “Thirty-Three.” An aggressive, dirty ode to an unhealthy relationship with some questions words finds the Pumpkins closest to the goth band they wish they were.
20. “Soma” from Gish
The blueprints for all future Pumpkins 5+ minute epics, “Soma” is full of vague references that really stick in a teenagers mind, has a slow build to a loud sound and features a solo accented with feedback.
Has any other band done more to get people to read Brave New World?
Also, just get a divorce. If you’re in an unhealthy marriage, get a divorce. It’s OK.
19. “Cash Car Star (Version 1)” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
If the Pumpkins were a duo and Corgan and Chamberlin were a little tired, they’d make this glorious noise.
18. “Cash Car Star” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
If the Pumpkins were a duo and Corgan had multiple full stacks and Jimmy Chamberlin had a slightly bigger drum set, they’d made this glorious noise.
The video below is from The Tonight Show. The record Leno holds up was not available for sale. 25 copies were pressed. It was given to a few radio stations and they were given permission to play it in full. That’s how I was able to obtain a copy, recording it off the radio live (keep in mind, this was the year 2000). Whether plugging an album that wasn’t available for sale was brilliant or bullshit is up for debate. It’s definitely different. The album is still not available for purchase. Four songs have been released through various compilations. Downloads of the album are still available via Archive.org.
17. “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
A first-person narrative about the trials and tribulations of a touring rock star’s life was the first single from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. And it was a hit. And it has a laughably bad and very memorable chorus. And it works for reasons on paper just do not make sense. Maybe it’s the dirty, fuzzy solo? Maybe it’s the Christ allusions? Maybe it’s the mud people from the music video?
16. “Quasar” from Oceania
Hear me out. If you didn’t know the band member, the release date or turmoil behind this era of the Pumpkins, this would be in your top 20. Vague lyrics about multiple spiritual deities, extremely powerful drumming and frantic prog-ish guitar work makes this the standout Pumpkins track of this decade.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDJ0itrc2Js
15. “Glass’ Theme” from Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
The best Pumpkins song to mock themselves, the lead track to Machina II was the under 2 minute sonic blast most fans wish was the first track to Machina.
14. “Today” from Siamese Dream
Siamese Dream and Nevermind were both produced by Butch Vig. Nirvana gets the loud-quiet-loud tag. The Pumpkins deserve it more. The opening guitar riff into the giant sound pre-verse explosion back into the first verse should be in the dictionary for loud-quiet-loud.
13. “Jellybelly” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
If this ranking was done by a 15-year-old rather than a 33-year-old, “Jellybelly” would be number 1 with a bullet. You’re forever to me means nothing to an adult and a lot to not a boy, not yet a man with blanket acne.
12. “Bodies” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The sonic sibling of “Quiet,” “Bodies” is teen angst repackaged by an adult man in a state of permanent adolescence. Love is suicide.
11. “Rocket” from Siamese Dream
The best example of a band finding their sound in a studio. The guitar sounds on this track still can’t be easily replicated with bedroom recording techniques. A great music video doesn’t hurt its placement.
10. “Quiet” from Siamese Dream
A shorter, tighter version of “Silverfuck.”
9. “Silverfuck” from Siamese Dream
Remember the scene in Wayne’s World where Wayne and Cassandra go to the music store to buy a guitar and the camera cuts away to Garth and then Garth plays a badass drum solo? Corgan and Chamberlin like to play. This is their 8 minute and 43 second guitar/drum solo. Iha and Darcy are there too.
8. “Blank Page” from Adore
I’m also surprised this non-single from Adore made it this high. Why? It may be the most sincere lyrics Corgan has penned. On an emotional album about his mother’s passing, this is the strongest entry. The “Heroes”-esque guitar lines rather than solos give it an atmosphere that sticks with the listener. It’s also the band’s best use of a fade out.
7. “1979” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
One of the best Pumpkins songs, videos, riffs and lyrics. At different points this was at #1. It’s not #1 because while it is near perfect, it doesn’t have the band shooting for the moon. For a band that loves to shoot for the moon, a perfectly crafted rock and roll song with tinges of electronica keeps it at a 10/10 but out of the #1 spot.
For better or worse, there’s a Moby remix of the song on one of the multiple versions of single.
6. “Mayonaise” from Siamese Dream
If this ranking was done by a 13-year-old rather than a 33-year-old, “Mayonaise” would be number 1 with a bullet.
5. “Thirty-Three” from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Corgan doesn’t get enough credit for his piano work. What set the band apart from their alternative peers was the use of keys. Nirvana and the Pumpkins both benefited from cello and Pearl Jam now has more keyboards, but the SP’s use of simple piano lines and accents helped break up the guitar monotony. This may be the best example. The piano is simple and is excellently paired with the acoustic guitar strumming. A somewhat beautiful video also helps take this song from potential motivational poster to touching letter to a loved one.
4. “Eye” from Lost Highway
The mid-90s were such a prolific time for the band they were able to give away a fantastic song for a David Lynch film. The Lost Highway OST also features the best Nine Inch Nails song (“The Perfect Drug”) and the best Marilyn Manson cover (“I Put A Spell On You”).
3. “Tonite Reprise” from Tonight, Tonight
See no. 2. The band was at their peak output between Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie. This “Tonight” demo helps elevate the status of the final product.
2. “Tonight, Tonight” from from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The band grabbing for the brass ring and succeeding in every way. From the strings to the guitar picking, big lines (“Time is never time at all”), childhood reminiscing (“And the embers never fade in your city by the lake/The place where you were born”) and big gestures (“Believe, believe in me”), Chamberlin’s fantastic drum rolls and most iconic video, this song literally and figuratively shot for the moon. This song means nothing and everything. It’s an outlier in the bands long catalogue. It’s their calling card and will always be underrated.
1. “Perfect” from Adore
The unofficial sequel to the band’s biggest hit, “Perfect” is the middle point of the Pumpkins’ career. Though there’s no Jimmy Chamberlin, it’s the best representation of the bands musical abilities and slightly grows out of its permanent adolescence on the lyrics. Our protagonist has loved and lost and rather than curse the heavens, they’re acting like an adult. The song swells before the bridge, breaking down in a very 1998 drum beat. Corgan and co. sound comfortable in their own skin, musically, lyrically and vocally. And the song features the word most overused by the band, lover, multiple times.