Follow TV Tropes


Music / A Perfect Circle

Go To
L - R: Matt McJunkins, James Iha, Billy Howerdel,
Maynard James Keenan, Jeff Friedl

A Perfect Circle is an American Alternative Rock Super Group formed by guitarist Billy Howerdel and tool lead singer Maynard Keenan. It has also seen contribution from people from The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and others. Their style is similar to Tool (mostly due to Maynard's vocals) but has its own distinct sound and ranges from heavy rock to more soft-toned songs and instrumentals.

The band went into a hiatus in 2004, but made a comeback in 2017 and subsequently released a new album, Eat the Elephant, on April 20, 2018.


  • Mer de Noms (2000): their debut album, dedicated to various people Maynard knew. "Mer de noms" means "sea of names."
  • Thirteenth Step (2003): A concept album dealing with the problem of addiction from various perspectives. Also other things, depending on interpretation.
  • eMOTIVe (2004): (Released on November 2nd 2004, election day in the United States) includes covers of anti-war protest songs such as "Fiddle and the Drum" by Joni Mitchell, "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye, and "Imagine" by John Lennon.
  • Eat the Elephant (2018): Their album after a decade of silence. It sees an update in their sound, but it retains their old roots as well, with the usual epic anthems and intricate melodies.

Current lineup

Former members

A Perfect Circle has examples of:

  • Bedtime Brainwashing: The song "Pet". The singer/narrator is trying to get their child back to sleep, but all the lyrics are sinister and are about "protecting" said child from harm...including "a will to survive and a voice of reason".
    Lay your head down child, I won't let the boogeyman come
    Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
    Pay no mind to the rabble, pay no mind to the rabble
    Head down, go to sleep to the rhythm of the war drums
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: Most of the songs on eMOTIVe are drastically rearranged from their original versions to reflect on the disillusion felt during the Bush administration. The most obvious of these is their cover of "Imagine," originally an optimistic call for peace and unity now sounding like it's being sung from the perspective of a suicide bomber looking to cleanse the world of impurity.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener
  • Godiva Hair: The woman in the "Weak and Powerless" video sports this.
  • Guttural Growler: Maynard's voice is usually quite smooth, but in "Gimme Gimme Gimme", the chorus is spoken in a hoarse growl.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The bridge of "Weak and Powerless".
    Little angel, go away, come again some other day
    The devil has my ear today, I'll never hear a word you say
  • Looped Lyrics
  • No Sympathy: "The Outsider" is from the perspective of someone who is at the end of their rope after dealing with the self-destructive behavior of their drug-addicted friend. When it comes to the possibility of said friend committing suicide, their only request is that they "do it somewhere far away from here."
  • Obsession Song: "Thinking of You". "Magdalena" also counts as one if you interpret it as being from the perspective of a stripper's obsessed fan.
  • Performance Video: The video for "Judith". Averted in singles from Thirteenth Step onwards.
  • Please Wake Up: "Passive" is an angry variant of this trope. Crosses over with How Dare You Die on Me!.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Doomed", after describing a cynical, faux-religious philosophy and how it's a betrayal of Christian principles, ends with "Fuck the doomed, you're on your own!"
  • Protest Song:
    • "Pet", "Let's Have a War", "Freedom of Choice", and their covers from eMOTIVe.
    • Most of Eat the Elephant counts, too.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "The Outsider" is a song from the point of view of a drug addict's friend, who's tired of watching them slowly destroy themselves and everyone else, and just wants them to die already so they can't add any more suffering to the world.
  • Religion Rant Song:
    • "Judith" is a scathing condemnation/rejection of Christianity aimed at Maynard's mother, who kept her faith even after being crippled for decades.
    • "The Doomed" is a slam against several so-called Christians who don't bother to practice the values that they preach, claiming that the poor are "on their own" while they are blessed by their wealthy benefactors.
  • Selective Obliviousness: "Blue" is about the singer ignoring all the signs that their loved one is a heroin addict, even as it becomes extremely obvious, because they don't want to face the painful truth...and blue is the color her skin turns when she begins to overdose.
    I didn't want to know
    I just didn't want to know
    Best to keep things in the shallow end
    'Cause I never quite learned how to swim
    I just didn't want to know
    (Didn't want, didn't want)
  • Shout-Out: Their song "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish" borrows its title from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Singer Name Drop: In "Orestes".
    Metaphor for a missing moment
    Pull me in to your perfect circle
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • Billy Howerdel sings three songs on eMOTIVe: "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?", "People Are People", and "Freedom of Choice".
    • There are two alternate versions of songs that are somewhat more arguable because they appear on releases credited to A Perfect Circle, but aren't truly full band performances: "Orestes (Demo)", a B-Side collected on the Deep Cuts EP, is performed by Billy Howerdel alone on vocals and acoustic guitar, while "The Hollow (Constantly Consuming Mix)" appears on the bonus disc of remixes packaged with the aMOTION dvd but is essentially a solo Cover Version by then-band-member Paz Lechantin, with her singing and playing all the instruments.
  • Sequel Song: "Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums", to "Pet".