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Music / The Smashing Pumpkins

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The current lineup.note
The "classic" lineup.note 

Homer Simpson: My kids love you, and thanks to your gloomy music, they've finally stopped dreaming of a future I can't possibly provide.
Billy Corgan: Well, we try to make a difference.

Formed in 1988, The Smashing Pumpkins are an alternative rock band from the Windy City consisting of singer/songwriter/dictator Billy Corgan. Okay, that's not true; there are usually three or four other band members, but Corgan's the songwriter, lead vocalist and the only member who's been present throughout the band's entire lifespan, so we'll start from there.

The band is known for a number of things: angsty lyrics, heavy guitars, dense production, an epic scope in terms of sonic ambition and/or accompanying visuals, and Corgan's nasal singing voice. While their "sound" began life as hard/alternative rock with experimental influences, they've also worked with elements from grunge, folk, electronica, shoegaze, and gothic rock.

The band's original lineup (Corgan, guitarist James Iha, bassist D'arcy Wretzky, drummer Jimmy Chamberlinnote ) released three albums, two of which were the results of strain due to Corgan's obsessive perfectionism and Chamberlin's drug addiction, among other issues. After the death of session keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin, and the firing and re-hiring of Chamberlin (now drug-free) alongside the quitting of Wretzky, the band produced one more album (well, technically two) before announcing they would break up at the end of 2000.

In 2005, Corgan released his first solo album, The Future Embrace, subsequently upstaging himself by, on the very same day, announcing that he was reforming the Smashing Pumpkins alongside Chamberlin with new members. They released one album (Zeitgeist) before Chamberlin amicably departed, at which point the band focused on a planned 44-song Concept Album named Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, to be released song by song for free on their website. While 12 of the 44 songs (including vinyl bonus tracks) saw release, and their next two albums were reportedly parts of the project, thus bringing a total of 34 tracks, TBK as a whole has since been scrapped.

In early 2018, Iha and Chamberlin officially rejoined the bandnote , with guitarist Jeff Schroeder (who initially joined the band after their mid-2000s reunion) completing the quartet. They released a new album in November of that year, Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun., which began a new Concept Album series titled Shiny and Oh So Bright and would be followed up two years with Cyr.

In October 22, 2020, two days before the 25th anniversary of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Corgan confirmed that the band are planning to release two new albums after the release of Cyr, with the first album being a 33-track double album that would serve as the third and final installment of a trilogy that began with Mellon Collie and continued in the two-part Machina. This album, Atum, was released in three 11-song installments between late 2022 and mid-2023; a 10-track third Shiny and Oh So Bright album titled Zodeon at Crystal Hall came out after it.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Melissa Auf der Maur – bass guitar (1999–2000)
  • Mike Byrne – drums, keyboards, backing vocals (2009–2014)
  • Jimmy Chamberlin – drums (1988–1996, 1998–2000, 2006–2009, 2018–present; touring 2015–2017)
  • Billy Corgan – vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass (1988–2000, 2006–present)
  • Nicole Fiorentino – bass, keyboards, backing vocals (2010–2014)
  • James Iha – guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals (1988–2000, 2018–present)
  • Jeff Schroeder - guitar (2006-2023)
  • D'arcy Wretzky – bass, backing vocals (1988–1999)

Other members

  • Jack Bates note  – bass guitar (2015–present)
  • Katie Cole note  – keyboards, guitar, vocals (2015–present)
  • Lisa Harriton note  – keyboards, backing vocals (2007–2009)
  • Ginger Pooley note  – bass, backing vocals (2007–2010)

Studio album discography:

  • Gish (1991) - the debut album, occasionally overlooked.
  • Siamese Dream (1993) - the mainstream breakthrough, mainly because of "Today" and "Disarm".
    • The two were remastered and reissued in 2011. Each had a bonus CD and a bonus DVD.
  • Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) - the epic double album.
    • Remastered and reissued in 2012, with three bonus CDs and a bonus DVD.
  • Adore (1998) - the folk / electronica album.
    • Remastered and reissued in 2014, with five bonus CDs and a bonus DVD.
  • Machina / The Machines of God (2000) - the attempted comeback and the sequel to Mellon Collie.
    • A remastered reissue was originally scheduled for 2015 but has been subject to developmental delays and/or schedule lapses, evidently due to issues with litigious record companies. It is intended to include all of the material from Machina II (sequenced to fit Corgan's original concept of a double album, before executive interference set in) as well as additional bonus material, presumably around the size of the Adore reissue.
  • Machina II / The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music (2000) - not a commercial release and, for that matter, was not intended to be; Corgan wanted Virgin Records to make the album free to anyone who had bought Machina I. When they declined, he just gave it to everyone.
  • Zeitgeist (2007) - the first post-reunion album.
  • Teargarden by Kaleidyscope - A scrapped 44-song Concept Album.
    • Oceania (2012) - the first standalone TBK-associated album.
    • Monuments to an Elegy (2014) - the second and final standalone TBK-associated album.
  • Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. (2018) - the first album following Iha and Chamberlin's rejoining and the first instalment of the Shiny and Oh So Bright series.
  • Cyr (2020) - the second installment of the Shiny and Oh So Bright series.
  • Atum (2022-23) - an album in three acts and the third and final instalment of the trilogy that began with Mellon Collie, released in November 2022, January 2023, and May 2023.
  • Zodeon at Crystal Hall (2023) - the third and final instalment of the Shiny and Oh So Bright series, which was released as an additional disc for the Atum physical box set.

There's also a bunch of EPs and compilations like:

  • Lull (1991) - first EP. In Billy's words: the EP was really supposed to be a single but they tricked me.
  • Pisces Iscariot (1994) - compilation of BSides, demos and outtakes from the 'Gish' and 'Siamese Dream' era.
    • Remastered and reissued in 2012, with a bonus CD, a bonus DVD, a bonus cassette, and (in some versions) a bonus 7" single.
  • Vieuphoria (1994) - a video compilation of various live performances, mostly from the Siamese Dream tour, plus comedy bits (usually centered on friends The Frogs), interviews, and other features. It was reissued on DVD in 2002 with several extras, including a complete interview and some additional performance footage from 1994 that Corgan had found before the release date. Similarly, its soundtrack was initially released as a promo CD in 1994, titled Earphoria, and then officially released in 2002. Earphoria retains a segment where the band jokingly played part of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" during a medley of "Silverfuck" and "Jackboot", whereas the Vieuphoria footage had to edit that part out due to licensing costs.
  • The Aeroplane Flies High (1996) - box set including all the singles and B-sides from the Mellon Collie era.
    • Remastered and reissued in 2013, with a substantial amount of bonus material on each CD as well as one additional bonus CD and a bonus DVD.
  • Rotten Apples (2001) - Greatest Hits Album, with almost all singles from "Siva" to "Try Try Try" (a particlar omission being "The End Is the Beginning Is the End", which due to originating in a soundtrack belonged to another label)
    • Judas ∅ (2001) - a limited-edition bonus disc with the B-sides and rarities that followed Pisces Iscariot
  • Rarities and B-Sides (2005) - Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Gathering just about every B-side and rarity for a total of 114 tracks. (It's not entirely complete; a few tracks had to be left off because of licensing issues. Many of these were included on the recent deluxe reissues of the albums, however).

Music videos with TV Tropes pages:

"Despite all my tropes I am still just a rat in a cage":

  • Adults Are Useless: In the "Rocket" video, a group of kids build a rocket to travel to another planet to see the Pumpkins perform without as much as a word of questioning from their inattentive parents. They don't really seem to notice until they see the rocket take off.
  • Album Closure: Most of their studio albums end with some kind of gentle, acoustic track that eases the listener out:
    • Gish ends with "Day Dream", the shortest track on the album that's almost like two songs conjoined, and is an ethereal track predominantly featuring vocals from bassist D'Arcy Wretsky in addition to Billy Corgan's harsher vocals.
    • Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness ends with "Farewell and Goodnight", a peaceful song featuring vocals from the whole band that wishes the listener goodbye. The album is a Concept Album cycling through the day, so ending with a lullaby is fitting. It also Book Ends to the Title Track, a gentle and mellow Album Intro Track.
    • Adore ends with "17", a 17-second acoustic instrumental that according to the liner notes is supposed to provide space for breathing and reflection.
  • Arc Words: "My one and only" on Mellon Collie. It shows up in "X.Y.U.," "Zero," "Lily (My One and Only)", and "By Starlight."
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: They have a few songs with faux-foreign titles. "La Dolly Vita" is one example. "La Vita" means "The Life" in Italian, but "Dolly" doesn't mean anything in Italian at all - it's an English word. (This particular title is probably a Pun-Based Title on La Dolce Vita.) Then again, since most of their song titles are Word Salad Titles anyway, this is par for the course.
  • Book Ends:
    • The first track on Disc 1 of Mellon Collie, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," has a running time of 2:52, as does the last track on Disc 1, "Take Me Down." The first track on Disc 2, "Where Boys Fear to Tread," is 4:22, as is the last track on disc 2, "Farewell and Goodnight." Furthermore, the piano theme at the end of "Farewell and Goodnight" is a reprise of the eponymous instrumental (the theme also appears in a different key at the end of "Thru the Eyes of Ruby").
    • The same lines from the start of "Appels + Oranjes" from Adore are repeated near the end.
  • Broken Bird: D'arcy's persona for the Mellon Collie and Adore eras.
  • Call-Back: The opening lines of the heaviest song on Mellon Collie, "Tales of a Scorched Earth" ("farewell, goodnight, last one out turn out the lights"), are echoed in "Farewell and Goodnight," which is the sweetest and quietest song on the album, and is basically a lullaby.
    • Mellon Collie ends with a bedtime song ("Farewell and Goodnight"), on a disc titled "Twilight to Starlight". Adore opens in the same key and the first line is, "Twilight fades, through blistered Avalon."
  • Careful with That Axe:
    • "Bullet with Butterfly Wings": "Despite all my rage I'm still just a rat in a... CAAAAAAAGE!"
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Since Billy shaved his head, he looks like the twin of Björn Strid.
  • Christmas Songs: They have one, simply titled "Christmastime."
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The lyrics to the extremely serene "Spaced" actually have several examples of this, though because they're mixed quietly and heavily distorted, it's difficult to hear at first. That's actually among the least lyrically dissonant aspects of the lyrics; the song also appears to deal with issues like Parental Abuse, though in a rather oblique fashion.
  • Concept Album: Mellon Collie (which Corgan called "The Wall for Generation X", though is a rather loose concept about coming of age); both Machina albums (about a boy hearing the voice of God in the radio and fashioning himself into a Captain Ersatz version of Billy Corgan, fronting a rock band; chart by Billy here); and Teargarden (similar chart here).
  • Cover Version: "A Girl Named Sandoz" by The Animals, "Terrapin" by Syd Barrett, "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac, "Dancing in the Moonlight" by Thin Lizzy, "You're All I've Got Tonight" by The Cars, "Clones (We're All)" by Alice Cooper, "A Night Like This" by The Cure, "Destination Unknown" by Missing Persons, "Dreaming" by Blondie, the classic pop tune "My Blue Heaven", "Rock On" by David Essex, "Soul Power" by James Brown, "Sad Peter Pan" by Vic Chestnutt, and those are just the ones that made it onto albums and compilations.
    • The band has taken to performing "Space Oddity" by David Bowie during shows on the Oceania tour.
  • Conveyor Belt Video / The Oner: "Ava Adore". If it doesn't click in that it's a oner, the halfway point where the camera spins around and reveals the camera's track and all of the sets will do it.
  • Dark Reprise: "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning" is this to "The End is the Beginning is the End". Both were on the soundtrack to 1997's Batman & Robin. The two songs have the same exact chorus, but different verses.
  • Description Cut: Used in the Vieuphoria segment "Bugg Superstar" — After a clip of a fan speculating about the "cool, artsy life" James Iha must live, we then see James sleeping in a very messy bed with his clothes and sneakers still on.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Subverted. As mentioned above, Machina II was intended to be leaked onto the internet for free. Teargarden by Kaleidyscope was intended to be released song-by-song for free on the band's website; they released ten songs before abandoning this method.
  • Doomsday Clock: Has a song of the same name on Zeitgeist.
  • Drone of Dread: The ending of "Obscured" is a sort of Played With example: it ends with droning guitar feedback, but it'll probably manage to escape being a Last Note Nightmare for most listeners because it's still pretty tuneful and somehow fits with the rest of the song.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: James Iha playing a Wholesome Crossdresser in the video for "Today."
    • Corgan's stage attire has often included dresses / skirts.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This performance filmed in 1988 shows the band playing The Cure-esque post-punk/goth-rock, a far cry from their eclectic blend of grunge, shoegaze, dream pop and metal in their heyday.
  • Epic Rocking: Quite a lot — "Rhinoceros" (6:30), "Drown" (8:17), "Hummer" (6:56), "Soma" (6:38), "Silverfuck" (8:43), "Starla" (11:01), "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans" (9:22), "Thru the Eyes of Ruby" (7:38), "X.Y.U." (7:07), "The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)" (8:36), "Tear" (5:54), "Shame" (6:41), "For Martha" (8:17), "Glass and the Ghost Children" (9:56), "Heavy Metal Machine (Alternate Take)" (6:28), "In My Body" (6:44), "Oceania" (9:05), ...Oh, we could go on.
    • Live versions of "Silverfuck" were known to take the 9-minute song as far as 40 minutes. The 2013 reissue of The Aeroplane Flies High featured an officially released 34:48 version. "Transmission" could go on for a long time, too; the DVD on the reissue of Adore has a version that goes on for 22:52.
    • Billy's other band, Zwan, had "Jesus, I / Mary Star of the Sea", which went on for 14:04. Even if this example is counted as two songs, which it sort of is, "Jesus, I" clocks in at about 7:54 and "Mary Star of the Sea" at about 6:10, depending upon where one places the track division (one could also argue that about three minutes of this track are an interlude that doesn't properly belong to either song, but this particular division places them at the end of "Jesus, I").
    • And now, to dive fully down the rabbit hole of re-release bonus tracks.
      • Gish: "Starla (2011 mix)" (11:01); "Drown (alternate guitar solo)" (8:17); the DVD's live versions of "Window Paine" (6:25) and "Sookie Sookie" (6:35).
      • Siamese Dream: "Siamese Dream (Broadway rehearsals demo)" (6:18); "Hello Kitty Kat (Soundworks demo)" (6:14); "Ache (Silverfuck rehearsal demo)" (6:57); "Soma (instrumental mix)" (6:39); the DVD's live versions of "Soma" (7:21), "Starla" (9:21), "Hummer" (8:42), "Siva" (8:35), "Mayonaise" (10:29), "Drown" (8:25), and "Silverfuck" (13:30).
      • Pisces Iscariot: "Crawl (Gish sessions outtake)" (6:55); "Why Am I So Tired (live in studio demo)" (15:14); the bonus DVD's versions of "My Eternity" (7:00) and "Death of a Mind" (6:42). (There are actually several takes of a few tracks on the DVD, but for the sake of this list, each of them is counted as its own track.)
      • Mellon Collie: "X.Y.U. (take 11)" (7:11); "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans (live studio rough)" (9:06); "The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)" (8:33); the live DVD's versions of "Thru the Eyes of Ruby" (8:06), "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans" (9:41), "Cherub Rock" (6:30), and "X.Y.U." (8:51).
      • The Aeroplane Flies High: in addition to the aforementioned version of "Silverfuck" (34:48), disc six's live versions of "X.Y.U." (7:38), "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans/Beautiful/Rocket medley" (12:33), and "Silverfuck" (13:54), and the DVD's live versions of "Thru the Eyes of Ruby" (7:56), "X.Y.U." (10:11), "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans" (12:14), and "The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)" (10:31).
      • Adore: "For Martha (take 1/CRC demo)" (7:20); disc 6's live versions of "Tear" (7:01), "Blank Page" (7:52), "To Sheila" (7:17), "X.Y.U. Medley" (11:20), and "Transmission" (12:52); the DVD's live versions of "To Sheila" (7:11), "Tear" (9:59), "Thru the Eyes of Ruby" (10:15), "The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete" (10:20), "Shame" (9:17), "For Martha" (8:25), "Blank Page" (9:48), and the aforementioned "Transmission" (25:52).
      • Machina: We'll find out what examples there are if the record company ever lets Billy re-release it.
  • Fading into the Next Song: "Perfect" into "Daphne Descends."
    • "Where Boys Fear to Tread" abruptly cuts off into the radio static at the beginning of "Bodies."
  • Fake Guest Star: Mike Garson, from David Bowie's touring band, played piano/synthesizer for the band during the Adore and Machina Tours.
  • Female Rockers Play Bass: Through various lineup changes (until their 2017 reunion), the band has always had a female bassist. D'Arcy Wretzky, their original bassist, gets hit with the Nobody Loves the Bassist aspect of the the most — fans sometimes speculate that Billy Corgan only chose her for her looks, and he ended up re-recording a lot of her parts on later albums. Her replacement Melissa Auf Der Mer, being well regarded as a musician in her own right, didn't get this accusation as much. The current line-up — Corgan, Iha, Chamberlin and Jeff Schroeder — does not have a female rocker... and, unsurprisingly, does not have an official bassist.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: "Disarm".
  • Game of Nerds: Billy Corgan, who played the sport in his youth and also had a large baseball card collection, supporting the Chicago Cubs.
  • Gaia's Lament: Discussed vaguely in "Appels + Oranjes" from Adore, and more directly in "Doomsday Clock" from Zeitgeist.
  • Genre Mashup: They're a goth-dream pop-progressive-psychedelic-electronica-metal-shoegaze-alternative rock band.
  • Grand Finale: The last show at the Metro in 2000 arguably.
  • Grief Song:
    • "Glynis" is a tribute to Glynis Johnson, the bassist of the band Red Red Meat, who toured with the Pumpkins and died of complications from AIDS one year before the song was released on the HIV benefit album No Alternative.
    • Adore, being recorded in the wake of Corgan's mother's death from cancer, has a number. Obvious examples include "For Martha", "Once Upon a Time", and "Tear".
  • Grunge: They benefited heavily from the Alternative Rock wave out of Seattle to the degree of having their song "Drown" featured on the soundtrack to the Seattle film Singles alongside Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, but they don't really fit into the scene because they had a more experimental sound, probably closer to pure Alternative Rock or even Alternative Metal. They went out of their way to distance themselves from the failing movement for their second album.
  • Guyliner: As demonstrated by the classic line-up picture at the top of the page, the guys sometimes put on eyeliner for promotional materials.
  • Heavy Meta
  • Heavy Metal: On the whole, they aren't exactly a metal band, but several of their songs ("Tales of a Scorched Earth", "X.Y.U.", "Zero", "Silverfuck", "The Aeroplane Flies High", etc.) are heavy enough to qualify as metal songs. Corgan is a huge metal fan; as mentioned above, he cited the late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell as his favourite contemporary guitarist and has been known to gush at length about the works of bands like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Metallica, and others. Some reviewers have even credited the Pumpkins with helping to restore metal's respectability (or to make it respectable in the first place if you felt it'd never been considered respectable before the '90s).
  • I Am the Band: Billy Corgan, to the point where Corgan threw out Iha and Wretzky's parts on Siamese Dream and re-recorded them himself. This attitude while recording mellowed out for the next album but Corgan always kept this demeanor. He was also the only original member in the band from 2009-2015.
  • The Killer in Me: Mentioned by name in "Disarm."
  • Large and in Charge: Band leader Billy Corgan stands at a rather imposing 6'4.
  • Lead Singer Plays Lead Guitar: Lead singer/songwriter Billy Corgan is the lead guitarist, playing most of the solos. Leaving fellow guitarist James Iha to mostly play rhythm guitar or more ornamental lead lines.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Corgan said he got the title of "Mayonaise" from looking in his fridge.
  • Loudness War: This has been a particularly bad problem starting with Machina (although not with Machina II, which was vinyl-only, so not as likely to be a victim of this; the only track on that that had a clipped master was "White Spyder", which was clearly done for artistic purposes). Zeitgeist and the reissues have also had problems with this, although strangely, the reissues have only been really bad on the bonus tracks (for example, the Adore remaster was DR8 on the stereo version of the album and had minimal clipping, while the mono version was DR5 with lots of clipping and the other bonus CDs had similar ratings and amounts of clipping). The earlier Pumpkins albums were mostly mastered with a fairly large amount of headroom, although the problem had started to creep up with The Aeroplane Flies High, which is clipped in some parts. It's also worth pointing that there's an "pre-mastered" version of Machina floating around the internets that has a substantially larger amount of dynamic range than the CD (and no clipping). Their usage of this trope also appears to have dropped off with time, as Oceania is a tolerable DR8 and has very little clipping.
    • This seems to be taken up to eleven on Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1, not helped by the fact that Rick Rubin, a producer infamous for having albums with similar loudness problems in his catalog, had a production role on this.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Bullet with Butterfly Wings". You know the line. "The world is a vampire."
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Today" — musically (mostly) upbeat, lyrically sarcastic and based on Corgan's depression and suicidal thoughts.
    • "Spaced" is an even more extreme example, as mentioned above under Cluster F-Bomb
  • Lyrics/Video Mismatch: "Tonight Tonight". The video is essentially a shot for shot remake of the 1902 sci-fi short A Trip to the Moon, whereas the lyrics have strong a Growing Up Sucks theme.
  • Metal Scream: Corgan has a pretty sweet one at times, though somehow, even when he uses it, he usually still doesn't entirely escape Perishing Alt-Rock Voice. "Tales of a Scorched Earth" may be the most extreme example one.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "Pastichio Medley" combines this with Epic Rocking in a bizarre example of both tropes. It consists of literally dozens of song snippets stitched together to make a twenty-three minute piece. Most of the snippets last for only about ten seconds, but the last of them, "Die", consists of the same highly dissonant riff repeated for about seven minutes before reprising the riff of "X.Y.U." Several, though nowhere near all, of the songs in the medley were eventually released in their entirety on the re-releases of Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and The Aeroplane Flies High.
    • "17", the closing track to Adore, is seventeen seconds of lo-fi piano (excerpted from a piano-only take of their song "Blissed and Gone"), which abruptly ends mid-note. The booklet to the CD includes a short poem about how significant "17 seconds" can be.
  • Mood Whiplash: Mellon Collie utilizes this quite effectively (and often):
    • The beautiful "1979" is followed by the Pumpkins' heaviest song, "Tales of a Scorched Earth". On vinyl, despite the re-arranged tracklisting, "Galapogos" precedes "Tales", keeping similar whiplash intact.
    • "Take Me Down" (the last track on Disc 1) is followed by "Where Boys Fear to Tread" (the first track on Disc 2).
    • "Thirty-Three" follows "Bodies."
    • "Stumbleine" is right before "X.Y.U."
  • Music Video Overshadowing: For "Today", a Lyrically Dissonant song about suicide.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Frequently.
    • Billy, regarding song titles: "Say you write a song about a chandelier, and the chandelier gives off light. And the light is the color red and red reminds you of the color you're not supposed to wear around a bull. So you name the song Cow."
    • "Rhinoceros" is slightly more sneaky about this. The chorus is "she knows, she knows, she knows." It sounds, however, like "she ''nose,'' she ''nose,'' she..."
    • Sometimes complicated by the song's Non-Appearing Title appearing in other songs (For example, "Where Boys Fear to Tread" is mentioned in "Cherry", albeit not quite in that exact order).
  • Older Than They Look: Billy's looked pretty much the same since 1996. His voice also hasn't changed at all, adding to his young appearance.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Pug" and "Annie-Dog," which take very different views on the subject. While "Pug" is from the perspective of someone who enjoys the relationship, "Annie-Dog" is a narration of the horrible lifestyle of someone that may or may not be a prostitute.
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Corgan, even when doing the Metal Scream Careful with That Axe thing.
  • Pop Culture Urban Legends: Invoked by Nicole, when she joked that she was one of the girls on the Simaese Dream cover. Some people still occasionally repeat this, though both of the girls have been identified by a fansite before and neither of them are known to be musicians.
  • Post-Rock: An influence on their later material as well as on Zwan (not surprising since David Pajo of Slint was a member of the latter). Oceania has a few shout-outs to seminal post-metal band Isis, mentioned below.
  • Power Ballad: "Tonight, Tonight" might qualify.
  • Precision F-Strike: Machina's final track "Age of Innocence" contains the only instance of profanity on the entire record.
  • Progressive Rock: While this has never been their dominant style, they've had some tendencies of it throughout their career, and on the whole, it's probably only grown with time; Wikipedia actually classifies Oceania as a prog rock album (alongside psychedelic rock and the expected alternative rock. They still don't have a page on Prog Archives, though). A few songs on most of their other albums could also be categorised as prog, and Corgan has named several prog and prog-adjacent acts as influences (Pink Floyd, Rush, Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, David Bowie, etc.). Some of their songs ("Silverfuck", "X.Y.U.", "The Aeroplane Flies High", etc.) may also qualify as Progressive Metal.
  • Psychedelic Rock: One of Corgan's favourite music genres, and some of their work itself falls into this genre. Corgan has named seminal psychedelic acts like Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and The Beatles as major influences on his work.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Mayonaise"note  and "Innosense" (put spaces before and after the "no" and you'll see)..
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
  • Radio Song: "I of the Mourning" is told from the perspective of a man who seeks comfort in his radio and hears voices within that inspire him to start a band.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Melvoin's death is supposedly the inspiration for Sarah McLachlan's "Angel".
  • Rearrange the Song: Adore's sombre acoustic work and Machina's poppier songs got the "Pumpkins treatment" in concerts, showing just how anchored they were in Corgan's songwriting process.
    • Similarly, "Disarm", which appeared on Siamese Dream as an orchestral ballad, was given a much louder, more aggressive arrangement for some TV appearances promoting the album.
  • Re-Cut:
    • The vinyl version of Mellon Collie reorders the entire tracklist to better fit the Dawn / Tea Time / Dusk / Twilight / Midnight / Starlight naming of each of the six sides of vinyl. It also includes "Tonite Reprise" and "Infinite Sadness" on its final side.
    • Adore's 2014 reissue featured subtle differences in the mix, highlighting some of the electronic elements cut from the original pressing. This is most notable in "Ava Adore".
    • Machina, if the intended Re-Cut is ever released, will be reissued in its original double album format with the songs from Machina II included. Part of this will include a fake concert, much like Pink Floyd's The Wall did.
  • Retraux: The "Tonight, Tonight" music video.
  • Revolving Door Band: D'arcy Wretzky departed in 1999 during the production of Machina, both James Iha and D'arcy Wretzky left when the band originally broke up in 2000, and while Chamberlin returned on the reunion, he left after 3 years). The member roster has cycled through a variety of different instrumentalists. Iha returned in 2018, and Chamberlain returned in 2015.
  • Shaped Like Itself: This line from "Disarm": "What I choose is my choice."
  • Shout-Out:
    • Corgan mentioned that Gish was named as a reference to Lillian Gish, specifically because his grandmother would tell him that she lived in a town in "the middle of nowhere" and one of the most important things that happened was Gish riding through said town in a train. He also joked at one point that it was originally named "Fish" but changed the name to avoid confusions with Phish.
    • "Siva" was originally named "Shiva" as a reference to the Tantric concepts of Shiva and Shakti, but Corgan changed the name slightly because he didn't want people to assume it referred to the Hindu god Shiva.
    • Oceania, a notably metallic and post-rock inspired album, contains the songs "The Celestials" and "Panopticon". Post-metal band Isis' first albums, all from over a decade prior, were Celestial, Oceanic and Panopticon.
    • The video for "Tonight, Tonight" is one to A Trip to the Moon. Doubles as Whole-Plot Reference.
    • The "Johnny" of "Tribute to Johnny" is American blues guitarist Johnny Winter.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Several, though none of them are on Siamese Dream:
    • "Medellia of the Gray Skies" and "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans" were intended as this, but only "Porcelina" made the final album cut.
    • "Ugly" and "Beautiful" are thematic counterparts, but, as with the "Medellia" / "Porcelina" pairing, only the latter made the cut. Luckily, both of them made it to Rarities and B-Sides.
    • "Tonight Tonight" and "Tonite Reprise."
    • "Quasar" and "Panopticon."
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: They veer both ways on this scale but typically settle more on the idealistic side. Though some songs take a clearly cynical stance on love, grief, etc., they still maintain an underlying message of hope and faith in humanity.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Curiously, every well-known formation of the band had a woman playing bass, until Nicole left in 2014 and Billy picked up the slack.
  • Spell My Name with a "The". 'Smashing' is an adjective in this case.
    • Their name on their first album was in an arc, so they removed the "the" to make it more symmetrical. Confusion ensued.
    • The reason why it was also lacking a "the" on Siamese Dream is a mystery though, especially since the "the" shows up in the CD edition's booklet.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: D'arcy sings "Daydream" and most of "Dreaming" and adds additional vocals to "Beautiful", "Where Boys Fear to Tread," "We Only Come Out at Night", "Farewell and Goodnight" (which has lead vocals by all four band members) and "Dancing in the Moonlight". James did this occasionally on his own tunes and otherwise, but most of them got shunted to B-sides — "Take Me Down" was the only one that made it to Mellon Collie, "Blew Away" got relegated to Pisces Iscariot, "...Said Sadly" (with additional vocals by Nina Gordon) and the cover of "Terrapin" were released on the Rarities & B-sides compilation, and so on.
    • D'arcy had actually recorded numerous backing vocals for Mellon Collie, but in a Jerkassy move, Billy erased most of them.
  • Stop and Go: "Quasar."
  • Straight Gay: Nicole has been married to Meghan Toohey since 2012.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: It's hard to blame Billy for thinking so early on when the rest of his band was either on drugs or in destructive relationships for 10 years.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After D'arcy Wretzky and James Iha declined to participate in the second incarnation of the band, Billy replaced them with... Another female bassist and an Asian-American guitarist.
    • Paz Lenchantin and David Pajo played these roles in Zwan.
    • Every official bassist has been a woman. D'arcy's replacement was Melissa Auf der Maur, then the reunited lineup has had Ginger Pooley and Nicole Fiorentino, while the 2 men who have been bassists on tours aren't considered official members.
  • Title by Number: "1979", "Zero", "Thirty-Three", and "17" (more if you count songs that were never officially released).
  • Title Drop: Too many straight examples and aversions to list here. Examples of near-title drops, however, include "Where Boys Fear to Tread" (which contains the line "to tread lightning / and ink the lavender skies" but the full title is never said) and "Jellybelly" (which contains the line "down in the belly of the beast").
  • Uncommon Time: Perhaps most notably in "Untitled", which switches meter signatures literally every couple of measures for most of the song (being mostly comprised of patterns like 3+3+4/4 and 3+3+4+4/4) and has several bars of 5/4, but present in other songs as well. "Quiet" throws in some bars of 7/4 in between bars of 3/4 and 4/4; "Set the Ray to Jerry" has verses in 10/4; "Innosense" ends with several measures of 5/4; and that's undoubtedly not all. It's also worth pointing out that, in a borderline example of this trope, "Let Me Give the World to You" uses seven-measure patterns in its verses.
  • "Untitled" Title: A song previously unreleased song that appeared on their Greatest Hits Album is officially listed as "Untitled".
  • Unusual Euphemism: "I took a Virgin Mary axe to his sweet baby jane... Coiled my tongue 'round her bumblebee mouth."
  • Verbing Nouny
  • Video Full of Film Clips: "The End is the Beginning is the End", off Batman & Robin.
  • With Friends Like These...: Possibly the meaning of "Eye": the protagonist seems to be constantly being let down by his friends (or lover, it's ambiguous) as one of the lines is "Is it any wonder I can't sleep? All I have is all you gave to me." It could actually be about trying to quit drugs and having withdrawl, however, as another line says "Is it any wonder I found peace through you?"
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "X.Y.U." combines this vocals that alternate between perishing and screaming to bizarre and terrifying effect.
    • Some of the lyrics of 1979 don't make an awful lot of sense, and sound like they were picked largely to fit the meter, like "Morphiene city skipping dues down to see"
  • Word Salad Titles: Billy has frequently given songs, seemingly nonsensical titles, like: "Geek U.S.A.," "Silverfuck," "Whir," "Galapogos," "Muzzle," "Stumbleine," "X.Y.U.," "Slunk," "Bye June," "Plume," "Pissant," "Purr Snickety," "Honeyspider," "Set the Ray to Jerry," "Meladori Magpie," and "Pulseczar," to name a few. Typically, these titles do mean something, or relate to the song somehow, but in a roundabout way.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Some of Corgan's song titles are based on misspellings, like: "Mayonaise," "Siva," and "Appels + Oranjes."

"Let's all go out and buy fur coats!"

Alternative Title(s): Smashing Pumpkins