Cherub Rock

From SPCodex, The Smashing Pumpkins wiki
"Cherub Rock"
Single by The Smashing Pumpkins
ReleasedJuly 13, 1993
FormatCD, 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl
Studio sessions
Songwriter(s)Billy Corgan
Producer(s)Butch Vig, Billy Corgan
The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology
"Cherub Rock"

"Cherub Rock" is the first single from The Smashing Pumpkins' second album, Siamese Dream (1993) and is the opening track. It was written by lead vocalist and guitarist Billy Corgan. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Composition[edit | edit source]

"Cherub Rock" was one of the last songs written for the album, and the lyrics relate to Corgan's relationship with his perception of the indie rock community and larger media.[4]

Appearing on Q101's Brian and Kenzie Show in 2023, Corgan stated the idea for the main riff came to him just before he caught a ride across town in Chicago. He told his driver to not talk for the entire 40-minute drive so that when he arrived to his apartment, he still remembered the idea and could recreate it on his guitar.[5] This riff features what is known as "the Pumpkin chord" – a G# octave chord at the eleventh fret of a guitar with the low E string played over it. The band has used this technique on other songs, such as "Drown", "Tristessa", and "Starla".

The prominent effect on the solo was achieved by recording the guitar solo to two different tapes which were then run simultaneously, with the speed of one tape slightly altered. "Cherub Rock" contains various overdubs influenced by the genres of shoegazing as well as 1970s classic arena rock.

In an interview with Rick Beato, Corgan said the introductory drum riff is a direct lift from Rush's 1975 song "By-Tor and the Snow Dog."[6]

Reception[edit | edit source]

Corgan insisted that the song be released as the first single from the album,[7] against the wishes of record executives who believed that "Today" would be a stronger opening single.[8] Although Corgan's wishes were honored, the single was indeed received with much less enthusiasm than "Today",[8] although it remains a fan favorite. An acoustic version of the song is performed on Vieuphoria and its CD companion, Earphoria.[9]

The song was a moderate success for the band, being performed on Saturday Night Live on October 30, 1993[10] and making it to the Triple J Hottest 100 at number 43.[11] Readers ranked "Cherub Rock" at number 97 in Guitar World's list of the 100 greatest guitar solos of all time.[12] In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 67 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.[13]

Following the 2011 re-issue of Siamese Dream, Consequence of Sound commented that the single "seemed tailor-made to feed the emerging modern rock radio format."[14]

Music video[edit | edit source]

The video features footage of the band performing the song live in a forest setting. It was shot outside San Francisco on a rainy and cold evening, entirely on Super8 film on a modest budget. The director, Kevin Kerslake, employed various destructive techniques when developing the film to give the video a broken and dirty look. This involved physically stomping on the film in a driveway after it was pulled from the reel, and then developing it in a bathtub.[15]

Corgan was reportedly extremely unhappy with the shooting experience, and the band wouldn't work with Kerslake again,[16] until 2023 when he directed the music video for "Empires" and "Spellbinding".[17] Corgan later admitted that at the time, he was "at a level of maturity that he blamed [Kerslake] for the rain and the cold," and even went on to say the "Cherub Rock" video was among his favorites the band ever did.[15]

Corgan's original idea was for the band to be playing in a theater to an audience of "metal kids," with angels swinging from ropes. At some point Corgan is dressed as Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th.[18]

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

Freak out
And give in
Doesn't matter what you believe in
Stay cool
And be somebody's fool this year
'cause they know
Who is righteous, What is bold
So I'm told

Who wants honey
As long as there's some money
Who wants that honey?

Hipsters unite
Come align for the big fight to rock for you
But beware
All those angels with their wings glued on
'cause deep down
We are frightened and we're scared
If you don't stare

Who wants honey
As long as there's some money
Who wants that honey?

Let me out
Let me out
Let me out
Let me out

Tell me all of your secrets
Cannot help but believe this is true
Tell me all of your secrets
I know, I know, I know,
Should have listened when I was told

Who wants honey
As long as there is some money (let me hear you say)
Who wants that honey?

Let me out
Let me out
Let me out
let me out

In popular culture[edit | edit source]

TBS used nearly the entire opening of the song (minus one drum pattern, ending a few hooks before the start of Billy Corgan's vocals) in the opening of their coverage of the 1999 All Pro Bumper to Bumper 300.[19]

The song features on numerous rhythm video games such as Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock[20], Rock Band[21], Power Gig: Rise of the SixString[22] and Rocksmith 2014.

Rochester, New York band Roses Are Red covered the song for Reignition Records' 2005 compilation The Killer in You: A Tribute to Smashing Pumpkins.[23]

The song was used in ECW by Psicosis.

Track listing[edit | edit source]

All tracks are written by Billy Corgan, except where noted.

CD / 12" vinyl version
1."Cherub Rock" 4:59
2."Pissant" 2:30
3."French Movie Theme" 3:50
3a."The Star-Spangled Banner"John Stafford Smith, Francis Scott Key 
7" vinyl version (5000 copies only)
1."Cherub Rock"4:59
2."Purr Snickety"2:50

Release history[edit | edit source]

Released Label Catalog ID Format Country External sites
July 13, 1993 Hut Recordings HUTCD 31 • 0170 465008 2 1 CD UK Discogs MusicBrainz [1]
July 13, 1993 Hut Recordings HUTT 31 • 0170 4 65008 6 9 12" vinyl UK Discogs [1]
July 13, 1993 Hut Recordings HUT 31 7" vinyl UK & Europe Discogs MusicBrainz [2]
November 7, 1994 Virgin HUT 1700 31 2 CD US MusicBrainz [1]

More releases: DiscogsMusicBrainz

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Charts[edit | edit source]

Chart (1993) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[24] 87
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[25] 91
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[26] 16
UK Singles (OCC)[27] 31
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[28] 23
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[29] 7


Quiet and Other SongsDemo • Bootleg
Cherub RockCD / 12" vinyl versionSingle
Siamese Dream (promo)UK and France CDPromotional
Siamese DreamOriginal releaseStudio
Unplugged: 100% Pure Acoustic PerformancesBootleg
3 Feet HighBootleg • Live
23 MinutesVideo • Promotional
Siamese SinglesCherub RockBox set
Mayonaise DreamBootleg • Live
The Cutting EdgeJune 30, 1993 – Hilversum, NL (studio / acoustic)Bootleg
Acoustic SeriesBootleg
Live At The RivieraBootleg • Live
PluggelectricJune 30, 1993 – Hilversum, NL (studio / acoustic)Bootleg
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness2012 reissue bonus DVD: 1–11 Live at Brixton Academy 1996-05-15; 12–15 Live at Rockpalast 1996-04-07Studio
The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–1998Promotional CDPromotional • Compilation
The VideosVideo • Promotional
A Gothic–Industrial Tribute to Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Rotten ApplesNorth American versionCompilation
Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000)Video
EarphoriaMain releaseLive
The Killer in You: A Tribute to Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Rarities and B-SidesCompilation
MySpace Smashing Pumpkins TributeTribute
Celebrating *20* Years of SadnessLive
Oceania: Live in NYCLive • Video
Inside the Dream MachineBootleg • Live
Mayonaise Dream: Broadcast from Tower Records. July 1993Bootleg • Live
Siamese Dream (Fruit Bats cover)Tribute
Smashing Pumpkins 4/21/94Live

Tour stats

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Dahlen, Chris (December 11, 2002). "Smashing Pumpkins - Earphoria". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  2. Danaher, Michael (August 4, 2014). "The 50 Best Grunge Songs". Paste. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  3. Yglesias, Matthew (May 21, 2007). "The Ultimate Nineties Alt-Rock Playlist". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  4. Kelly, Christina. "Smashing Pumpkins-The Multi-Platinum Band is over the infighting but can the harmony last?" US Magazine, December 1, 1995.
  5. "FULL INTERVIEW! Billy Corgan On Rivalry with Nirvana, 'Siamese Dream' 30th Anniversary, and more!". YouTube. July 4, 2023.
  6. The Smashing Pumpkins: The Billy Corgan Interview, retrieved December 15, 2022
  7. Ducker, Eric. "Smashing Pumpkins' 'Siamese Dream' Turns 20: How Five Music Video Directors Brought Billy Corgan's Masterpiece to Life". Spin. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Soniak, Matt. "The Late Movies: The Smashing Pumpkins". Mental Floss. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  9. Prato, Greg. "Vieuphoria – Smashing Pumpkins". Allmusic. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  10. "Cherub Rock by Smashing Pumpkins - Songfacts". Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  11. Triple J Hottest 100, 1993
  12. "Top 100 Greatest Guitar Solos". HearYa - Indie Music Blog. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  13. " Magazine Lists." Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  14. "Album Review: Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream [Deluxe Edition]". November 29, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "The Smashing Pumpkins' YouTube Premium Afterparty". YouTube. Retrieved June 28, 2023. ("Spellbinding" music video release after-party conversation with Corgan and Kerslake; available only to YouTube Premium members)
  16. Commentary for "Cherub Rock" music video. The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–2000: Greatest Hits Video Collection (Virgin Records, 2001).
  17. Corgan, Billy. "Avalanche (with Austin idol)". iHeartPodcasts. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  18. Billy Corgan. Interview with MTV 120 Minutes, 1993.
  19. 1999 NASCAR Busch Series All Pro Bumper to Bumper. TBS Superstation. 1999.
  20. "Guitar Hero 3 Setlist Revealed". PC World. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  21. "Rock Band Songs". Harmonix Music Systems. Archived from the original on January 7, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  22. "Track list released for Power Gig: Rise of the SixString". GamePro. Archived from the original on November 30, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  23. Prato, Greg. "Smashing Pumpkins Tribute: The Killer in You". Allmusic. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  24. Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 257.
  25. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2270." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. October 16, 1993. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  26. " – The Smashing Pumpkins – Cherub Rock". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  27. "The Smashing Pumpkins: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  28. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  29. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.

External links[edit | edit source]