"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
ReleasedMay 6, 1996 (1996-05-06)
GenreSymphonic rock, alternative rock
LabelVirgin, Hut
Songwriter(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 fourth single and second track on the first disc from their third album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and was released in May 1996 in Europe. "Tonight, Tonight" was critically acclaimed and commercially well-received upon its release, reaching number one in Iceland, number two in New Zealand, number seven in the United Kingdom and number 36 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The music video accompanying the song was also successful and won several awards.

A shorter acoustic version of the song, "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.[2] Additionally, the song appears on the band's greatest hits release, Rotten Apples.[3]

Song history

Billy Corgan began writing for the follow-up to Siamese Dream after the tour in support of that album;[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

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/F #. In the original recording sessions, "Tonight, Tonight" was initially written in the key of C instead of G.[5] 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.[5] The strings for the song were arranged by Billy Corgan and Audrey Riley, and recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.[7] 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."[5]

Lyrically, "Tonight, Tonight" hangs together with the rest of the Mellon Collie.[8] The lyrics of the song have been compared to Robert Herrick's poem "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time".[9]


"Tonight, Tonight" (0:25) A 25-second sample from "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".[9] Jim Alexander of NME regarded the song as "swirling [and] grand".[10] Music Week rated it four out of five, adding, "A powerful vocals-led single with ferocious driving guitars. Their most commercial release to date which should gain a high chart placing."[11] Time's reviewer Christopher John Farley called the song "an expansive rock anthem, complete with soaring guitars and a 30-piece string section."[12] 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".[13] 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".[14]

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.[15] It also achieved number five on the Modern Rock Tracks and number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100.[16] The song also charted at number 7 on the UK Singles Chart, and peaked at number 21 on the Australian Singles Chart on June 9, 1996.[17] 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
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, a married couple who were, at the time, cast members on the sketch comedy program Mr. Show with Bob and David and would later gain international fame for their voicework on SpongeBob SquarePants. The original idea for the music video was for a Busby Berkeley-style video, complete with "people diving into champagne glasses".[18] 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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] Hence, the video was filmed in the style of a turn-of-the-century silent film using theater-style backdrops and primitive special effects.[20] Most of the video's backdrops and puppetwork were created by artist Wayne White.[21]

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.[22] 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.[22] 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.[22] The video took three days to shoot.[23]

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 land onto the Moon's surface, slowing their descent using umbrellas. Suddenly, several hostile humanoid aliens appear, surrounding the couple. Tom Kenny's character gets ready to defend them, but Jill Talley's character intervenes, makes a stand against creatures and defends both of them by hitting a few of the 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]...it just seemed to touch a nerve."[18] 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).[24] "Tonight, Tonight" was nominated for Best Editing in a Video (Editor: Eric Zumbrunnen) and Viewer's Choice,[24] and was also nominated for Best Music Video, Short Form at the 39th Annual Grammy Awards.[25] 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.[26]

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


Charts and certifications

Release history

Release dates and formats for "Tonight, Tonight"
Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United Kingdom May 6, 1996 (1996-05-06)
  • CD
  • cassette
United States June 11, 1996 (1996-06-11) CD Virgin [50]
June 25, 1996 (1996-06-25) Contemporary hit radio [51]

Cover versions

"Tonight, Tonight" has been covered by electropop band Passion Pit, whose version was featured on Levi's Pioneer Sessions 2010 Revival Recordings[52] and was also featured during the season 1, episode 3 of MTV's Teen Wolf (Pack Mentality.);[53] Their cover plays near the end of the movie 10 Years.[54] 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. ^ a b "Tonight Tonight" at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  2. ^ a b The Aeroplane Flies High at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  3. ^ Rotten Apples at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (October 22, 1995). "Double Take: Smashing Pumpkins raises the stakes with 'Mellon Collie'". Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ a b c d Corgan, Billy (January 1997). "King B's". Guitar World.
  6. ^ Billy Corgan Plays Tonight Live on Howard Stern show June 19, 2012 on YouTube
  7. ^ Spevak, Jeff (January 23, 1997). "Super Angst Sunday". Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
  8. ^ Kelly, Christina (December 1, 1995). "Smashing Pumpkins-The Multi-Platinum Band is over the infighting but can the harmony last?". US Magazine.
  9. ^ a b Amy Hanson. Tonight, Tonight at AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  10. ^ Alexander, Jim. "Smashing Pumpkins : Rotten Apples". NME.com. Retrieved April 17, 2007.
  11. ^ "Reviews" (PDF). Music Week. April 27, 1996. p. 10. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  12. ^ Farley, Christopher John (November 13, 1995). "A JOURNEY, NOT A JOYRIDE". Time.com. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  13. ^ Browne, David (October 27, 1995). "PUMPKIN BATCH: Smashing Pumpkins". EW.com. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  14. ^ "487) Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness". Rolling Stone. November 2003. Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  15. ^ "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness". allmusic.com. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  16. ^ "Tonight, Tonight – Smashing Pumpkins". billboard.com. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  17. ^ "THE SMASHING PUMPKINS – TONIGHT, TONIGHT (SINGLE)". Australian-Charts.com. Retrieved April 17, 2007.
  18. ^ a b c Corgan, Billy (1996). Smashing Pumpkins Videography (Interview). MTV. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ Daher, Karl (May 29, 1998). "Listessa Interviews Billy Corgan". Listessa. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  20. ^ a b Commentary for "Tonight, Tonight" music video. The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–2000: Greatest Hits Video Collection (Virgin Records, 2001).
  21. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (September 5, 2012). "Exclusive: Wayne White Talks Smashing Pumpkins Video "Tonight Tonight" In Clip From 'Beauty Is Embarrassing'". IndieWire. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  22. ^ a b c Haring, Bruce (September 12, 1997). "A 'Smashing' Wardrobe Run". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011. Retrieved March 7, 2015.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  23. ^ de Barros, Adriana. "Smashing Pumpkins vs. George Méliès". Scene360.com. Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved August 6, 2007.
  24. ^ a b "1996 13th MTV Video Music Awards". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 1, 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2007.
  25. ^ "Rock On The Net: Grammy Awards: Best Music Video". rockonthenet.com. Retrieved April 16, 2007.
  26. ^ Stylus Staff (July 20, 2006). "Stylus Magazine's Top 100 Music Videos of All Time". StylusMagazine.com. Archived from the original on May 28, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  27. ^ "Tonight, Tonight [US]". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 16, 2007.
  28. ^ "The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  29. ^ "The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  30. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3034." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  31. ^ "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 3032." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  32. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13 no. 22. June 1, 1996. p. 13. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  33. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (29.6. – 5.7. '96)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). June 29, 1996. p. 50. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  34. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – The Smashing Pumpkins". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  35. ^ "The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  36. ^ "The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  37. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  38. ^ "The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight". Singles Top 100. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  39. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  40. ^ "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  41. ^ "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  42. ^ "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  43. ^ "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  44. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles: August 10, 1996". Cash Box. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  45. ^ "RPM Year End Alternative Top 50". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  46. ^ "Árslistinn 1996". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). January 2, 1997. p. 25. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  47. ^ "New Zealand single certifications". Recorded Music NZ.
  48. ^ "British single certifications – Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 24, 2016.Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Tonight, Tonight in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  49. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. May 4, 1996. p. 35. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  50. ^ "Tonight Tonight / Rotten Apples / Meladori Magpie". Amazon. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  51. ^ "Selected New Releases" (PDF). Radio & Records. No. 1151. June 21, 1996. p. 43. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  52. ^ Borges, Christine. "MP3: Passion Pit Covers Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight"". miaminewtimes.com. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  53. ^ "Pack Mentality: Songs from the Show". teenwolf.thetvseries.net. Archived from the original on March 25, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  54. ^ 10 Years at IMDb