Readers’ Poll: The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs – Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs

Your picks include ‘Starla,’ ‘Today,’ ‘1979’ and ‘Soma’

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The Smashing Pumpkins release Oceania, their first full-length album since 2007, next week. The record is the latest entry in the band's sprawling discography, which includes everything from double-disc epics and rarities box sets to concept albums, EPs and assorted free MP3s. We asked you to name your favorite Pumpkins songs, and the response was so overwhelming and varied that instead of the usual Top 10 list for readers' poll results, we're expanding this week's results to a Top 20. Click through to see your picks, and listen to our Spotify playlist below.

– By Matthew Perpetua

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11. ‘Drown’

Billy Corgan was always an incredibly confident musician and songwriter, to the point that he was willing to put one of his very best songs, "Drown," on the soundtrack of the movie Singles rather than save it for Siamese Dream. The gamble paid off in his favor – plenty of grunge fans had their first exposure to the Smashing Pumpkins on that record.

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10. ‘Thru the Eyes of Ruby’

"Porcelina of the Vast Oceans" is the joyful epic on the first disc of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and "Thru the Eyes of Ruby" is its dark mirror on disc two, operating on the same epic scale but with a tone of melodramatic misery. It's romantic, too, framing Corgan's sorrow as a seductive force.

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9. ‘Today’

The Smashing Pumpkins' breakthrough hit is built on a devastating bit of irony, as the seemingly cheerful hook "today is the greatest day I've ever known" frames lyrics contemplating failure and suicide. There's a sense of triumph over that intense misery by the end of the track, but it's very hard-won.

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8. ‘Hummer’

"Hummer" was written after overcoming a period of crippling writers' block, so it makes sense that it sounds like a huge sigh of relief. The whole song feels like a glorious epiphany – there's a calm before the storm, a cathartic release and then, most beautifully, a gentle wind-down to true serenity.

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7. ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’

The Smashing Pumpkins' most famous song is as over-the-top as Nineties rock gets, with grim verses leading to a ridiculously bombastic chorus ("Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage"). In retrospect, it's sort of amazing that a song this crazy and extreme managed to become one of the biggest hits of the year. It was a different time!

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6. ‘Tonight, Tonight’

"Tonight, Tonight" is one of Corgan's most optimistic songs, a pep talk about refusing to give in to cynicism set to a grandiose string arrangement. "We'll crucify the insincere tonight," he sings, sounding like some kind of rock superhero.

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5. ‘Disarm’

There are several variations on "Disarm" – the string arrangement on Siamese Dream, stripped-down versions, a heavy metal version – but no matter how Corgan plays it, his deep sorrow as he reflects on childhood trauma is always potent and devastating.

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4. ‘Soma’

"Soma," the ballad at the center of Siamese Dream, is one of Billy Corgan's most graceful compositions, gliding between slow, gorgeous instrumental parts, stately verses and a gut-punching chorus as he belts out "I'm all by myself as I've always felt."

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3. ‘Cherub Rock’

"Cherub Rock" is one of the best album openers of all time, kicking off Siamese Dream with a series of escalating riffs that build a whole world before Corgan even begins singing the first verse. The song, a brutal takedown of phonies and hipsters, somehow seems more relevant today than it did back in the early Nineties.

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2. ‘1979’

"1979" is Corgan's most wistful pop hit, a mid-tempo tune that looks back on the aimless fun of adolescence with a touch of melancholy and longing. Funny enough, many of the teens who obsessed over this song upon its release in 1995 were born in 1979.

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1. ‘Mayonaise’

"Mayonaise" – yes, it is officially spelled incorrectly, deal with it – won this poll by a significant margin. It's easy to understand why. The melody is straight-up lovely, and Billy Corgan achieves a balance of distinct noise and traditionally beautiful guitar playing in this song unmatched by anything else in his catalog. In some ways, it's the ultimate Smashing Pumpkins song.

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