The Five Greatest Smashing Pumpkins Songs Ever.

So I’ve recently been on an old-school Smashing Pumpkins kick (is there any other kind?) lately and I’ve been contemplating their library, and I thought to myself: yeah, there are a lot of good SP songs, but which are the ones I absolutely cannot live without?

Well, I’ll tell you right here in your face.  And then you’ll know because that shit is science.

5. Fuck You (An Ode To No One)

Because who doesn’t love a good break-up song?  Nice riff, breaks down well, and doesn’t quite wallow into full-on self-pity mode.  Plus you get these lyrics:

I took a virgin mary axe to his sweet baby jane, 
lost my innocence to a no good girl,
scratch my face with anvil hands,
and coil my tongue around a bumblebee mouth

Bumblebee mouth indeed.

4. Disarm

Hard not to put this on here, despite how terribly overplayed it always has been (and apparently always will be).  The haunting violins.  The sad recollection of slipped away youth.  The random-ass church bells.  It’s a beautiful song that is only partially ruined by its popularity.

Yeah, it’s a little overrought and dramatic, but that’s what childhood is — overreacting to a bunch of stuff that seems like it’s the end of the world.

3. Zero

I mean, what can I really say that the guitar ref doesn’t say on its own?  The song just fucking wails.  And it’s tight.  It doesn’t overstay its welcome with unnecessary reprises or guitar solos.  It just shows up, rocks your face off, and ends.  What could be better than that?

2. Muzzle

Something about this song always struck me as terribly honest.  The fear of being ordinary.  Of missing out on deep secrets beneath the surface.  Part somber, part hopeful:

As all things must surely have to end
And great loves will one day have to part
I know that I am meant for this world

But the stuff which really resonates with me is the close, where Billy talks about that moment when we had it in our hands… something inescapable.

And I knew the meaning of it all
And I knew the distance to the sun
And I knew the echo that is love
And I knew the secrets in your spires
And I knew the emptiness of youth
And I knew the solitude of heart
And I knew the murmurs of the soul
And the world is drawn into your hands
And the world is etched upon your heart
And the world so hard to understand
Is the world you can’t live without
And I knew the silence of the world

Well said, Billy.

Finally…

1. Mayonaise

… and it’s not even close.

The key to any brilliant rock n’ roll song relies on, at its core, catching just the right wave of notes in the right order and when you hear it, you think, These notes belong together.

Everything about Mayonaise works musically.  We start with this beautiful, clean electric guitar playing a winding riff and then we explode into the heart of the song:

Fool enough to almost be it
Cool enough to not quite see it

The way Billy wails on about his dreary life perfectly complements the spacey, heavily distorted guitar work. Even the weird whistling squealing seems essential to the song.

By the end of the song, however, things have taken an almost optimistic turn, or at least, as optimistic as Corgan gets:

No more promise no more sorrow
No longer will I follow
Can anybody hear me
I just want to be me
When I can, I will
Try to understand
That when I can, I will

The song drifts out much like how it came in — quietly but beautifully.  A gentle reminder of all that rocks within.

There’s a reason it won, by a “significant margin,” the Rolling Stones Readers’ Poll: Because it is absolutely essential Smashing Pumpkins.

Honorable Mentions: Soma, Thru the Eyes of Ruby, XYU

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