Smashing Pumpkins Ava Adore artwork by disturbedByVoices "Rosy"

The Smashing Pumpkins – Ava Adore [1998]

“I have learned the fine art now of judging what is expected of me when I am being beat…it takes a keen ear to detect if the desired result is one of the following: submission, capitulation, confession, or negation…sometimes when I am being beaten down, the desired result appears to be tears, a bleating ‘no more, no more’, until the monster is satisfied… in stark opposition, sometimes the desired result appears to be to stop me crying, until a numb pall falls over the scene… as she beats me, she repeats over and over again ‘stop crying, stop crying you piece of shit’, and the formula reads that once you do the beating will stop… I learn the fine art of giving her whatever she desires, if only to feel that I am the one ultimately in control…” ~ 7-year-old BC from his LiveJournal autobiography

“And you’ll always be my whore
‘Cause you’re the one that I adore
And I’ll pull your crooked teeth
You’ll be perfect, just like me

Album Adore would ironically be one of the more disappointing albums of the 90s… shockingly so since the Smashing Pumpkins had had one hell of a run up until then with their chart-topping albums Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (alone selling nearly six million copies). Made up of Billy Corgan (lead singer),  D’arcy Wretzky (bassist), James Iha (guitarist), Jimmy Chamberlin (drums), and relative newcomer Jonathan Melvoin (keyboards) known as “Mr. Perfect” due to his propensity for eating properly, avoiding fried foods, and drinking only bottled water. Melvoin and Chamberlin would become fast friends, and as sometimes is the case, one friend can lead another astray. The two would meet in a hotel in New York City, prior to their Madison Square Garden concert, to partake in alcohol and Red Rum, a lethal strain of heroin named for The Shining’s iconic “murder” spelled backward. The police would end up arresting Chamberlin while paramedics pronounced prodigious multi-instrumentalist Melvoin sadly died of an overdose.

“And I’ll pull your crooked teeth
You’ll be perfect, just like me
You’ll be a lover in my bed
And a gun to my head

The Smashing Pumpkins band members in 1998


Having tried to overlook two prior overdoses (one requiring adrenaline shots to their hearts à la Pulp Fiction), this would be the final “brick” in Corgan’s mind, and as such Chamberlin was sacked. Unintentionally semi-permanent, the firing was a good-faith attempt to shake up the drummer’s worldview in hopes of encouraging him to take rehab more seriously. Unfortunately, Chamberlin took the firing too seriously. Unfortunately, Corgan had enjoyed Chamberlin’s input and assistance with creating new music. Unfortunately, Corgan would be going through a divorce, and his mother would die. Despite Billy Corgan’s genuine best efforts, album Adore would suffer the effects.

“Lovely girl, you’re the murder in my world
Dressing coffins for the souls I’ve left to die
Drinking mercury to the mystery
Of all that you should ever leave behind
In time

“Ava Adore” is perhaps the brightest star on namesake Adore, certainly commercially so, with a newly adapted sound using increased looping and a heavier electronic emphasis. The lyrics seem to speak of an interminably damaged relationship while the music fairly burbles with a cascading of degenerate synthesizers and gnashing guitars backed crunchy pseudo-beats. The video, while brilliant in theory, became a nightmare in execution, requiring hours of calculations and film retakes to time the lip-syncing with the fast-slow movements of the band members. They almost gave up on the concept entirely, thankfully barreling through and completing a striking and daring reinvention of their previous works in favor of an artfully gothic masterpiece that could easily take a terrific beating even today.

“We must never be apart”



Cover Art “rosy” © 2023 – disturbedByVoices – All Rights Reserved

3 thoughts on “The Smashing Pumpkins – Ava Adore [1998]

  1. Sounds as if Billy Corgan had a pretty rough childhood, and like so many artists, used his pain to create. I may have said this before, but most of the best (to me) song lyrics/poetry, bleed from a tortured soul. I enjoyed the song, the music, and absolutely “adored” the video…a surrealistic masterpiece. And as always, found your background info quite interesting, Rann. 🖤

  2. Agreed, his childhood was brutal by his own account, though interestingly he spins it as a learned strength, which is certainly an admirable trait. I too love these tortured artists and their works best, but that too is an admirable skill (one that you certainly possess). It amazes me the difficulties many artists must transcend to simply continue creating their art, and in this particular case, that Corgan was able to release anything at all, let alone something as timeless and gorgeous as this. Thank you for the kind words, Kath. Your thoughts are always greatly appreciated. 🖤

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