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Fan poll: 5 greatest the Smashing Pumpkins songs of all time

From moody ballads to feverish rock anthems, unexpected contradiction has always been at the heart of the Smashing Pumpkins story. Formed in the underground alternative scene of Chicago in 1988, the Billy Corgan-fronted band broke through to mainstream success with their sophomore album Siamese Dream (1993), and once again with the hit-filled Mellon Collie and […]

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From moody ballads to feverish rock anthems, unexpected contradiction has always been at the heart of the Smashing Pumpkins story. Formed in the underground alternative scene of Chicago in 1988, the Billy Corgan-fronted band broke through to mainstream success with their sophomore album Siamese Dream (1993), and once again with the hit-filled Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995).

With Corgan at the helm as a tormented songwriting force, over the years the group became known for their poetic lyricism that captivated rock fans of all ages, and have since remained beloved for their quirky blend of garage rock, heavy metal, and new wave. 

Read more: The Smashing Pumpkins albums ranked: From worst to best

While the Smashing Pumpkins members have come and gone since its height of stardom, the group seem to have no plans of slowing down. With their 2023 World is a Vampire tour and 2020 album Cyr, the band’s 11th album, it’s clear that the Smashing Pumpkins are anything but a spent force.

Spanning decades, genres, and a revolving door of band members, their immense catalog is now close to 400 songs deep. Ranking the greatest tracks of a behemoth like the Smashing Pumpkins is almost an impossible task. But our readers were up for the assignment. Here are the top five fan picks.

5. “Cherub Rock”

Sarcastic and spiteful, “Cherub Rock” captures a critical moment in time for the alt-rock band within just five minutes of play time. Written by Billy Corgan at a time when the band were setting their sights on arena-rock superstardom, the song tackles Corgan’s contentious relationship with the music industry. Bolstered by swooning riffs, thick waves of distortion, and clever, seething lyrics that have proved to be timelessly catchy, “Cherub Rock” is the ultimate “f*ck you” to the phonies, critics, and industry hanger-ons that always had something to say. Years later and this is still one of the best album openers of all time, setting the tone of Siamese Dream with the band’s silky-smooth guitar prowess and memorable refrains.

4. “Disarm”

Billy Corgan’s lyrical finesse will forever shine brightest on a ballad. There are several variations on “Disarm” — the string arrangement on Siamese Dream, the stripped-down acoustic recording, and a metal version they perform live — but no matter the rendition, Corgan’s heart-wrenching lyrics tear through the track like ignited gasoline. Reflecting on his traumatic childhood, Corgan’s haunting sorrow is seared into the memories of anyone who grew up listening to Siamese Dream. Delivering both a commercial success and a deeply personal tribute, “Disarm,” with its iconic bells, will persist as one of the band’s most poignant songs.

3. “1979

This nostalgic pop-hit is easily one of the most recognizable songs from the Smashing Pumpkins extensive catalog. Breezy, wistful, and undeniably catchy, “1979” encapsulates suburban youth culture in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The seminal music video, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, is a visceral depiction of teenage angst with reminiscent shots of basement parties, reckless cruising, and toilet-papered houses. Released as the second single from their 1995 album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the track builds off their churning guitar-heavy rock sound with processors, drum pads, and synthetic instrumentation. The result is a bouncy new wave tune that is a perfect combination of carefree and longing.   

2. “Tonight, Tonight

“Tonight, Tonight” is one of Corgan’s most optimistic songs, a rallying cry against cynicism set to a sweeping string arrangement recorded by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The track’s grandiose orchestral composition is stunning, yet it’s in the quiet moments that “Tonight, Tonight” really comes to life. Corgan’s melancholic reflection on the passage of time is a necessary break from the upbeat hopefulness that pumps through the rest of the song. The Georges Méliès-inspired music video is a theatrical trip into the silent film “A Trip to the Moon” with full-out costumes and whimsical set design, showcasing the magic of their genre-defying sound.

1. “Mayonaise”

“Mayonaise” – officially spelled incorrectly – is a longtime fan favorite. And it’s easy to understand why. With an intoxicating melody and thrashing, moody guitar riffs, the track epitomizes the brilliance of the Smashing Pumpkins — a band that consistently played with contradictions. The balance struck between industrial noise and polished rock is best exemplified within these six minutes. In drawing together all the many endearing qualities of the band, “Mayonaise” explodes with complexity, vulnerability, and ingenious songwriting that has endured decades later.

Source: altpress.com

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