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"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 recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.[9] Billy 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"

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

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"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".[12Time's reviewer Christopher John Farley called the song "an expansive rock anthem, complete with soaring guitars and a 30-piece string section."[13Entertainment 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 Titanicwas being shot at the same time in Los Angeles.[23Titanic 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 moonTom 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 positive reactions 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 YearBest DirectionBest Special EffectsBest Art DirectionBest Cinematography, and Breakthrough Video.[25] "Tonight, Tonight" was nominated for Viewer's Choice and Best Editing,[25] and was also nominated for Best Short Form Music Video 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.

  • US single release[28]
  1. "Tonight, Tonight" - 4:15
  2. "Meladori Magpie" - 2:41
  3. "Rotten Apples" - 3:02
  4. "Medellia of the Gray Skies" - 3:11
  • The Aeroplane Flies High track listing[4]
  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 performance[]

Chart (1996) Peak


Australia (ARIA)[29] 21
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[30] 39
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[31] 32
Canadian Alternative 30 (RPM)[32] 2
Ireland (IRMA) 13
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[33] 46
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[34] 2
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[35] 58
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[36] 7
U.S. BillboardModern Rock Tracks[17] 5
U.S. BillboardMainstream Rock Tracks[17] 4
U.S. BillboardHot 100[17] 36


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[37] and was also featured during the season 1, episode 3 of MTV's Teen Wolf (Pack Mentality.);[38] Their cover plays near the end of the movie 10 Years.[39Panic! 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 guitarist] was born", andThe Voice U.S contestant Katrina Parker, who covered this song on the show's first live round.