Tonight, Tonight (The Smashing Pumpkins song)

"Tonight, Tonight"

The single cover of "Tonight, Tonight" is credited to Billy Corgan.[1]
Single by The Smashing Pumpkins
from the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Released April 15, 1996 (Europe)
June 11, 1996 (U.S.)
Format CD
Recorded 1995
Genre Alternative rock, symphonic rock
Length 4:16
Label Virgin
Writer(s) Billy Corgan
Producer(s) Flood, Alan Moulder, Billy Corgan
The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology
"Tonight, Tonight"

"Tonight, Tonight" is a song by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, written by the band's frontman, Billy Corgan. It was the third single and second track on the first disc from their third album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and was released in April 1996 in Europe[2] and later in June 1996 in the United States.[3] "Tonight, Tonight" was critically acclaimed and commercially well-received upon its release. The music video accompanying the song was also successful and won several awards.

A shorter acoustic version of the song, titled "Tonite Reprise", was included as a B-side to the single and on the triple LP version of Mellon Collie. This single also later appeared in an extended form on the box set The Aeroplane Flies High.[4] Additionally, the song appears on the band's greatest hits release, Rotten Apples.[5]

Song history

Billy Corgan began writing for the follow-up to Siamese Dream after the tour in support of that album;[6] however, the recording of "Tonight, Tonight" first began while the Pumpkins were still on the Siamese Dream tour when Corgan booked the band into a local Chicago studio to record all of their song ideas on tape.[7]

On The Howard Stern Show, Corgan has said that the song pays homage to Cheap Trick, with its black humoresque lyrics and theme, and that the song is addressed to himself, who escaped from an abusive childhood against all odds, so as to keep him believing in himself.[8]

Composition and lyrics

"Tonight, Tonight" is written in the key of G, performed on instruments tuned down a half-step so the actual pitch is G. In the original recording sessions, "Tonight, Tonight" was initially written in the key of C instead of G.[7] However, since Corgan was unable to sing the song in C, he wrote a version during the Mellon Collie recording sessions to suit his range.[7] The strings for the song were arranged by Billy Corgan & Audrey Riley, and recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.[9] Corgan said that recording with a 30-piece string-section for the song "was probably one of the most exciting recording experiences I have ever had."[7]

Lyrically, "Tonight, Tonight" hangs together with the rest of the Mellon Collie.[10] The lyrics of the song have been compared to Robert Herrick's poem "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time".[11]


"Tonight, Tonight"
This is a 25-second sample from The Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Tonight, Tonight" was met with critical acclaim. Allmusic reviewer Amy Hanson stated that the song "packs an emotional punch".[11] Jim Alexander of NME regarded the song as "swirling [and] grand".[12] Time's reviewer Christopher John Farley called the song "an expansive rock anthem, complete with soaring guitars and a 30-piece string section."[13] Entertainment Weekly's reviewer David Browne praised the use of strings in the song, saying that it was "whipped into a frenzy by hurricane-like strings".[14] On Mellon Collie's entry in Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, "Tonight, Tonight" was praised as "the Pumpkins at their finest".[15]

While "Tonight, Tonight" never approached the chart success of "1979", it was among the most successful singles from Mellon Collie. Its highest position on any national chart was a number two peak on the New Zealand Singles Chart. Its highest position in the United States was at number four on Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks.[16] It also achieved number five on the Modern Rock Tracks and number 36 on The Billboard Hot 100.[17] The song also charted in other countries, peaking at number 21 on the Australian Singles Chart on June 9, 1996.[18] It placed at 50th in a list of best rock songs of all time broadcast by Kerrang! TV.

Music video

A scene from the "Tonight, Tonight" music video.

The music video was directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and starred Tom Kenny and Jill Talley. The original idea for the music video was for a Busby Berkeley-style video, complete with "people diving into champagne glasses".[19] The band was set to begin production on the video when they discovered that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had done a similarly styled video for their song "Aeroplane", which was almost identical to what they had wanted to do.[19] The second idea for the video was that as the band played on a surreal stage, the camera would go into audience members' eyes and the viewer would see that person's vision of the song.[20] The third and final concept, inspired by Georges Méliès's silent film A Trip to the Moon, came from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who got the idea for the video because the album cover for Mellon Collie reminded them of early silent films.[21] Hence, the video was filmed in the style of a turn-of-the-century silent film using theater-style backdrops and primitive special effects.[21] Most of the video's backdrops and puppetwork were created by artist Wayne White.[22]

Dayton and the production crew initially had problems locating costumes for the video because the movie Titanic was being shot at the same time in Los Angeles.[23] Titanic director James Cameron rented nearly every turn-of-the-century prop and costume in the city, leaving the "Tonight, Tonight" production crew little to work with.[23] Directors Dayton and Faris compromised by renting the leftover costumes and hiring designers to remake them into the elaborate period clothing seen in the video.[23] The video took three days to shoot.[24]

The video, which debuted in May 1996, begins with a group of people celebrating the launch of a zeppelin to the moon. Tom Kenny's character kisses Jill Talley's character's hand as the two enter the zeppelin, which was being held to the ground by people dressed as sailors using rope. The zeppelin approaches the Moon, which has a face like the Moon's face in A Trip to the Moon. Shots of the band performing in similar, turn-of-the-century attire using older, acoustic instruments are interspersed. The two characters jump off the zeppelin and fall onto the Moon's surface. Suddenly, several hostile humanoid aliens appear, surrounding the couple. Tom Kenny's character is restrained from a fist fight with the creatures, and Jill Talley's character defends herself by hitting a few of creatures with her umbrella, which vaporizes them, but the two are trapped and tied. The two form a plan, and then break free of the ropes and attack the aliens with their umbrellas. The couple escapes on a rocket similar to the one in A Trip to the Moon and land in the sea, where a merman resembling the sea-god Poseidon puts on a performance for them, including an octopus, singing mermaids, and starfish, before sending them back to the surface in a bubble. In the end they are rescued by a ship called "S.S. Méliès", in reference to the movie director.

The music video received heavy airplay on MTV and won several awards. Corgan remarked that "I don't think we've ever had people react [like this] just seemed to touch a nerve."[19] It won six awards at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1996: Video of the Year, Breakthrough Video, Best Direction in a Video (Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris), Best Special Effects in a Video (Special Effects: Chris Staves), Best Art Direction in a Video (Art Director: K. K. Barrett and Wayne White) and Best Cinematography in a Video (Director of Photography: Declan Quinn).[25] "Tonight, Tonight" was nominated for Best Editing in a Video (Editor: Eric Zumbrunnen) and Viewer's Choice,[25] and was also nominated for Best Music Video, Short Form at the 1997 Grammy Awards.[26] It is still considered one of the greatest music videos of all time, ranking number 40 on Stylus Magazine's list of the top 100 music videos of all time.[27]

Though regular 6-string acoustic guitars and electric bass guitar was used in the original studio recording of the song, in the music video, in keeping with the turn-of-the-century theme, some interesting instruments were used as 'props'; James Iha can be seen using a Gibson harp guitar and D'arcy Wretzky is seen playing an instrument that resembles the 1924 Gibson mandobass.

Single track listings

The Tonight, Tonight single was released with two different versions containing different b-sides, one as a standard single and the other as a CD included in the singles box set, The Aeroplane Flies High. All songs written by Billy Corgan.

  1. "Tonight, Tonight" - 4:15
  2. "Meladori Magpie" - 2:41
  3. "Rotten Apples" - 3:02
  4. "Medellia of the Gray Skies" - 3:11
  1. "Tonight, Tonight" - 4:15
  2. "Meladori Magpie" - 2:41
  3. "Rotten Apples" - 3:02
  4. "Jupiter's Lament" - 2:30
  5. "Medellia of the Gray Skies" - 3:11
  6. "Blank" - 2:54
  7. "Tonite Reprise" - 2:40


Chart (1996) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[29] 21
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[30] 39
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[31] 32
Canada Rock/Alternative (RPM)[32] 2
Ireland (IRMA)[33] 13
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[34] 46
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[35] 2
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[36] 58
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[37] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[38] 36
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[39] 4
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[40] 5


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[41] Gold 5,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Silver 200,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


All information taken from Allmusic.[1]

Cover versions

"Tonight, "Tonight" has been covered by electropop band Passion Pit, whose version was featured on Levi's Pioneer Sessions 2010 Revival Recordings[43] and was also featured during the season 1, episode 3 of MTV's Teen Wolf (Pack Mentality.);[44] Their cover plays near the end of the movie 10 Years.[45] Panic! at the Disco, as a live recording, wherein they replaced the lyrics "The place where you were born" with "The place where Jon Walker [former Panic! at the Disco bassist] was born", and The Voice U.S contestant Katrina Parker, who covered this song on the show's first live round.


  1. 1 2 "Tonight Tonight" at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  2. "Smashing Pumpkins-Tonight, Tonight single (Europe release)". Retrieved 2013-03-29.
  3. "Smashing Pumpkins-Tonight, Tonight single (U.S. release)". Retrieved 2013-03-29.
  4. 1 2 The Aeroplane Flies High at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  5. Rotten Apples at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  6. Kot, Greg (1995-10-22). "Double Take: Smashing Pumpkins raises the stakes with 'Mellon Collie'". Chicago Tribune.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Corgan, Billy (January 1997). "King B's". Guitar World.
  8. Billy Corgan Plays Tonight Live on Howard Stern show June 19, 2012 on YouTube
  9. Spevak, Jeff (1997-01-23). "Super Angst Sunday". Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
  10. Kelly, Christina (1995-12-01). "Smashing Pumpkins-The Multi-Platinum Band is over the infighting but can the harmony last?". US Magazine.
  11. 1 2 Amy Hanson. Tonight, Tonight at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  12. Alexander, Jim. "Smashing Pumpkins : Rotten Apples". Retrieved 2007-04-17.
  13. Farley, Christopher John (1995-11-13). "A JOURNEY, NOT A JOYRIDE". Retrieved 2007-04-18.
  14. Browne, David (1995-10-27). "PUMPKIN BATCH: Smashing Pumpkins". Retrieved 2007-04-18.
  15. "487) Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness". Rolling Stone. November 2003. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  16. "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness". Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  17. "Tonight, Tonight - Smashing Pumpkins". Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  18. "THE SMASHING PUMPKINS - TONIGHT, TONIGHT (SINGLE)". Retrieved 2007-04-17.
  19. 1 2 3 Corgan, Billy (1996). Smashing Pumpkins Videography (Interview). MTV. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. Daher, Karl (1998-05-29). "Listessa Interviews Billy Corgan". Listessa. Retrieved 2007-04-18.
  21. 1 2 Commentary for "Tonight, Tonight" music video. The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–2000: Greatest Hits Video Collection (Virgin Records, 2001).
  22. Jagernauth, Kevin (5 September 2012). "Exclusive: Wayne White Talks Smashing Pumpkins Video "Tonight Tonight" In Clip From 'Beauty Is Embarrassing'". IndieWire. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  23. 1 2 3 Haring, Bruce (1997-09-12). "A 'Smashing' Wardrobe Run". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  24. de Barros, Adriana. "Smashing Pumpkins vs. George Méliès". Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
  25. 1 2 "1996 13th MTV Video Music Awards". Archived from the original on 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2007-04-16.
  26. "Rock On The Net: Grammy Awards: Best Music Video". Retrieved 2007-04-16.
  27. Stylus Staff (2006-07-20). "Stylus Magazine's Top 100 Music Videos of All Time". Retrieved 2007-04-16.
  28. "Tonight, Tonight [US]". Retrieved 2007-04-16.
  29. " – The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  30. " – The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  31. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3034." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  32. "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 3032." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  33. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – The Smashing Pumpkins". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  34. " – The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  35. " – The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  36. " – The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight". Singles Top 100. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  37. "Smashing Pumpkins: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  38. "Smashing Pumpkins – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Smashing Pumpkins. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  39. "Smashing Pumpkins – Chart history" Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs for Smashing Pumpkins. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  40. "Smashing Pumpkins – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Smashing Pumpkins. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  41. "New Zealand single certifications". Recorded Music NZ.
  42. "British single certifications – Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 24 November 2016. Enter Tonight, Tonight in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  43. Borges, Christine. "MP3: Passion Pit Covers Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight"". Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  44. "Pack Mentality: Songs from the Show". Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  45. 10 Years at the Internet Movie Database

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