Top 21 Smashing Pumpkins Songs of All Time

Updated on November 19, 2017
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Poppy Reid is a proofreader for Japan Info and a video game enthusiast. She lives in Tokyo and has two hamsters named Zelda and Hemingway.

Smashing Pumpkins, an alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois, has that '90s feel that holds a lot of nostalgic memories for many people. The band was formed in 1988 and has gone through many lineup changes over the years, including James Iha, D'arcy Wretzky, Jimmy Chamberlain, Jeff Schroeder, and the iconic Billy Corgan.

Smashing Pumpkins in the '90s

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Over the years, Smashing Pumpkins has released some fantastic songs. They have a unique sound that makes the band easily identifiable. Corgan sung about love, life, death, philosophy, and many more subjects. Now, Smashing Pumpkins is considered one of the most iconic bands of the 1990s. Here is a list of their top 21 songs.

Smashing Pumpkins in 2014

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21. "Hummer"

Album: Siamese Dream
Year of release: 1993

A great song on a great album is "Hummer", where you can easily identify that 1990s American rock sound. Billy Corgan claimed that this song is about life and how it's not for the happy and content but for those who are miserable and disenchanted. I believe everyone always wants more and that, perhaps, no one is 100% purely happy.

20. "My Mistake"

Album: Adore
Year of release: 1998

"My Mistake" seems to be about a couple who have broken up and looking back at all the mistakes they've made that caused their relationship to end. I'm sure we've all felt this way at some point, knowing that we hurt someone and wanting to go back and make amends.

19. "That's the Way (My Love is)"

Album: Zeitgeist
Year of release: 2007

I take this as a general love song, which sounds powerful and quite upbeat by Smashing Pumpkins standards. Some fans say it's a message from the late Nirvana band member Kurt Cobain to Courtney Love, who some say killed him. Others just take it as a sweet love song. It's a gorgeous ballad and deserved a spot on this list.

18. "Tarantula"

Album: Zeitgeist
Year of release: 2007

Another great song from the Zeitgeist album is "Tarantula", where Corgan says that being a singer doesn't make him better than anyone else and that no one would take a second look at him if he weren't famous. The name "Tarantula" likely refers to when Corgan collaborated with The Scorpions band.

17. "Spaceboy"

Album: Siamese Dream
Year of release: 1993

Billy Corgan grew up taking care of his disabled half-brother, Jesse, in a broken home. This song is dedicated to him, the two boys who were told they had no potential and felt that they didn't belong.

It's quite a gentle song, one that fits nicely with the quieter theme of Siamese Dream. I really like listening to this while working or relaxing.

16. "Thirty-Three"

Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Year of release: 1995

I honestly thought this song was about death, perhaps with a reference to Jesus (the number thirty-three being the age at which he died), but the real (and preferable) explanation is that when Corgan got married and moved to a new house in Chicago, he was contemplating his future and wondering if he could be happy.

Corgan had a really rough childhood and with his band gaining the fame many others only dream of: a wife, a house, and money, he was hoping that the future was bright. Judging by the name of the album, though, this probably wasn't the case.

15. "Cherub Rock"

Album: Siamese Dream
Year of release: 1993

"Cherub Rock" is a popular Smashing Pumpkins song, and is about how the music industry wanted the band to play what they thought would sell, rather than staying true to yourself and what you really want to express.

Many people can identify with this way of thinking, with the pressure to behave a certain way and do certain things.

14. "Luna"

Album: Siamese Dream
Year of release: 1993

This is a fantastic love song where Corgan, afraid to love, eventually accepts and decides to love her in the purest way possible. The gentle, almost lazy tune and his voice full of yearning and longing make it one of the best songs on the album.

13. "Landslide"

Album: Pisces Iscariot
Year of release: 1994

"Landslide" was originally performed by Stevie Nicks and Smashing Pumpkins did an acoustic cover as a B-side to "Disarm." It's now one of the band's most loved tracks and it's about life and getting older.

12. "Perfect"

Album: Adore
Year of release: 1998

Some say that this song is about the hollowness of being a 20-something having lost the innocence of youth, but I think it's more literal about an ex. You pretend you don't know each other when you meet, but in your dreams, you may still see them and remember them.

Many people can relate to this feeling - a lost relationship or friend who, even after all your time together, can seem like a stranger when enough time has gone by.

11. "Mayonaise"

Album: Siamese Dream
Year of release: 1993

There is definitely a wistful tone to this song. Some fans have speculated that it refers to adolescence, the loss of youth, and what could have been. This is one of my all-time favourite Smashing Pumpkins songs because it really makes you think about life and how things could be different.

10. "Beautiful"

Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Year of release: 1995

This is a heart-wrenching song about not being able to be with the one you love, a feeling many people experience in their lifetime. It perfectly communicates an aching longing for the person you cannot be with, with some truly beautiful lyrics that fans adore.

9. "The Everlasting Gaze"

Album: Machina/The Machines of God
Year of release: 2000

I love how this song starts with the powerful "you know I'm not dead!" It's one of the things that first drew me into this pretty badass song. There are many theories about what this song means, including an angry message to God who has forgotten him, the desire to love, and Billy Corgan's depression.

I feel compelled to agree with the latter analysis, considering the tone is both angry and quite desperate. However, I can buy into the religious theory too, especially considering the line "the fickle fascination with an everlasting God."

8. "Tonight, Tonight"

Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Year of release: 1995

Another song considered one of their best works, "Tonight, Tonight" is all about living in the present, being true to yourself, and shedding any darkness from your past. Fans speculate that all of the songs of the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is part of a larger story, and as some of the other songs on the album are quite dark, this is a liberation from the ghosts of one's past.

I really love the drums in the bridge; it feels urgent and exciting. I'm also a sucker for violins. I love this song as much as any Smashing Pumpkins fan, and most would agree it belongs in the top ten of this list.

7. "Stand Inside Your Love"

Album: Machina/The Machines of God
Year of release: 2000

In my opinion, this is one of the greatest love songs of all time. I remember someone playing this to me a few years ago, and the lyrics were so beautiful that I couldn't stop the tears falling.

There's a dark element, too. It feels like the love is either not returned or is forbidden. "I need and bleed for your every move and waking sound" and "I'll wrap my wire around your heart and your mind / you're mine forever now" are one of the best lines I've ever heard in a love song.

6. "1979"

Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Year of release: 1995

This is a song about being a kid (Corgan was twelve in 1979) and not caring or worrying about getting old as it still feels so far away. It's about innocence, confidence, having fun with friends, and being free from the pain and worries of adulthood.

Since Corgan has suffered from depression, he has probably longed to be a kid again just so he can feel pure and free once more. "1979" describes that feeling perfectly. It's a great song about being young and carefree, something we all miss from time to time.

5. "Today"

Album: Siamese Dream
Year of release: 1993

Another classic by the band, "Today" is a song about heartbreak and contemplating suicide. Corgan once said in an interview that the lyrics "today is the greatest day I've ever known" were to supposed to be ironic because he can never remember feeling worse. "Today" is considered by many fans as one of Smashing Pumpkins' best songs.

4. "Zero"

Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Year of release: 1995

This is an angry song that I just love. It's got a perfect mix of that angst you feel as a teenager or young adult and some seriously cool lyrics. There are many theories to the meaning of this song including bulimia, cocaine, and general self-loathing.

3. "Disarm"

Album: Siamese Dream
Year of release: 1993

"Disarm" is a famously heartbreaking song about the abuse Corgan and his younger brother suffered when they were kids. Corgan said in an interview that he didn't want to write something angry to get back at his parents, so instead, he wrote a beautiful song so they could see what tender feelings he had in his heart despite the pain they put him through.

I think it was very brave of him to release a song about his abuse, and it's encouraging to see that he succeeded so much despite his troubled past.

2. "Ava Adore"

Album: Adore
Year of release: 1998

There are many interpretations of this song, but the one I most identify with is a destructive and unhealthy relationship. Have you ever been with someone who you know is really bad for you, but you stay with them anyway? Someone who can make you feel awful and hate yourself, yet everything they say and do is intoxicating and you feel you couldn't bear to spend a single second apart?

The lyrics are perfect for this kind of feeling; words like "in you I feel so pretty, in you I taste God, in you I feel so hungry, in you I crash cars, we must never be apart."

"Ava Adore" is a fantastic song that I love to listen to again and again. Definitely the best on the Adore album.

1. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"

Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Year of release: 1995

"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage," are very famous lyrics from this masterpiece. I take it as being angry at the government, the establishment, and the flawed system that keeps regular people in place with promises of brighter futures, something System of a Down also sing a lot about.

There are theories that "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" is about the music industry, but I believe it's about the world and society as a whole. The famous line is saying that even if we're fighting mad about this unfair world, there is absolutely nothing we can do because compared to those in power, we're just a powerless rat in a cage.

In my opinion, it's the best song that Smashing Pumpkins have released!

Smashing Pumpkins continue to wow their fans with deep lyrics, great sound, and charming meanings behind their songs. Although they've broken up in the past, we hope that they will release at least a couple more songs sometime in the future! Did you agree with this list, or was your favourite Pumpkins song missed? Which one do you like best?

© 2017 Poppy

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    • poppyr profile image
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      Poppy 3 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

      That’s part of their beauty, I think, that people can get different meanings from their songs. I’ll have to check out the original “Landslide.”

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      I love “Landslide” no matter who sings it, although I like their unique treatment of it. I like how you present various interpretations of SP’s songs, especially when meanings are disputed. Songs are so often like poems. Who is to truly say what they’re really about?