From SPCodex, The Smashing Pumpkins wiki
Single by The Smashing Pumpkins
ReleasedApril 23, 1996
FormatCD, Cassette
Studio sessions
GenreGrunge[1], alternative metal, alternative rock
EP length: 40:53
Songwriter(s)Billy Corgan
Producer(s)Flood, Alan Moulder, Billy Corgan
The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology
"Tonight, Tonight"

"Zero" is the third single from The Smashing Pumpkins' third studio album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. "Zero" was written by Billy Corgan and was the first song recorded for Mellon Collie. The song has six rhythm guitars, with two line-in twelve string acoustics.[2] Commercially, "Zero" reached number one in Spain and number three in New Zealand. In North America, the song reached number one on Canada's RPM Alternative 30, number 15 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, and number nine on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart. In the United States, the song was released as an EP, so it instead charted on the Billboard 200, making it to number 46.

The song was featured on "Homerpalooza", the penultimate episode of The Simpsons's seventh season.[3] The cover artwork is of a Giorgio Armani model, photographed by Corgan's then-girlfriend, Yelena Yemchuk, who also directed the music video.[4]

Background[edit | edit source]

"Zero" was the first song recorded for Mellon Collie.[5] Lyrically, it touches on religion, with the line "god is empty just like me" being an allegorical reference that god is simultaneously fulfillment and emptiness.[6] Similarly, Corgan may be referring to himself as a rock god, and the song is his response to the public interpretation of him at the time. He is to say he was worth nothing; that is, "I'm not your God, I'm your Zero." Lyrics to the song were first foreshadowed during the "art breakdowns" of "I Am One" performances throughout Lollapalooza 1994.[7]

The namesake is the character behind which Mellon Collie is loosely based, and also shares the name with the iconic shirt that Corgan wore throughout the Infinite Sadness tour. The character named "Zero" would later be renamed "Glass" in the story of Machina, and later "Shiny" for 2023's ATUM.

Music video[edit | edit source]

The music video was directed by Yelena Yemchuk and described by NME as "very cinematic and creepy at times".[8] The concept of it was to set it in a Roman mansion, with lounging guests, while the band acts as their entertainment. The band predominantly wears black, which contrasts with the room's vibrant wine-stained colors that are associated with the Roman period. The video is the only such release to depict keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin, who died in July 1996 from a drug overdose.

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

my reflection, dirty mirror
there's no connection to myself
i'm your lover, i'm your zero
i'm the face in your dreams of glass
so save your prayers
for when we're really gonna need 'em
throw out your cares and fly
wanna go for a ride?

she's the one for me
she's all i really need
cause she's the one for me
emptiness is loneliness, and loneliness is cleanliness
and cleanliness is godliness, and god is empty just like me
intoxicated with the madness, i'm in love with my sadness
bullshit fakers, enchanted kingdoms
the fashion victims chew their charcoal teeth
i never let on, that i was on a sinking ship
i never let on that i was down
you blame yourself, for what you can't ignore
you blame yourself for wanting more
she's the one for me
she's all i really need
she's the one for me
she's my one and only

B-sides[edit | edit source]

Unlike most singles, "Zero" was released as an EP and included "Pastichio Medley", a medley of parts of songs from the Mellon Collie sessions that mostly remain unreleased. The medley runs over 23 minutes and features over 70 songs.[9] The medley also features snippets of songs that actually were released; the snippet of the song "Disconnected" is a riff from an early version of "The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)" (originally B-side from the "Thirty-Three" single)[10] and the riff called "Rachel" ended up being worked into the album track "X.Y.U." Eventually, 2012's reissue of Mellon Collie saw a number of tracks from the "Medley" released in full versions,[11] and others on The Aeroplane Flies High reissue.

The track "Tribute to Johnny" is an instrumental, a homage to guitarist Johnny Winter.[12]

EP track listing[edit | edit source]

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

Main release
1."Zero" 2:39
2."God" 3:09
3."Mouths of Babes" 3:46
4."Tribute to Johnny"Billy Corgan, James Iha2:34
5."Marquis in Spades" 3:17
6."Pennies" 2:28
7."Pastichio Medley" (The length was incorrectly put as "25:59".)Billy Corgan, James Iha, D'arcy Wretzky, Jimmy Chamberlin23:00

Release history[edit | edit source]

Released Label Catalog ID Format Country External sites
April 23, 1996 Virgin v25g-38545 • 7243 8 38545 2 3 CD US Discogs MusicBrainz [1]
April 23, 1996 Virgin 4LM-38545 • 7243 8 38545 4 7 Cassette US Discogs MusicBrainz [1]
August 19, 1996 Hut Recordings • Virgin HUTCD 73 • 7243 8 42046 2 4 CD UK Discogs MusicBrainz [1]
August 7, 1996 Virgin VJCP-15017 CD Japan Discogs MusicBrainz [1]

More releases: DiscogsMusicBrainz

Charts and certifications[edit | edit source]


Live At The RivieraBootleg • Live
Live In ChicagoLive • Promotional
Mellon Collie and the Infinite SadnessDisc one – Dawn to DuskStudio
666Bootleg • Video
ZeroMain releaseSingle
ZeroMain releaseEP
The Aeroplane Flies High"Zero"Box set
The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–1998Promotional CDPromotional • Compilation
The VideosVideo • Promotional
MCIS Demos IIBootleg
A Gothic–Industrial Tribute to Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Rotten ApplesNorth American versionCompilation
Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000)Video
The Killer in You: A Tribute to Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Rarities and B-SidesCompilation
Celebrating *20* Years of SadnessLive
Oceania: Live in NYCLive • Video
London By DayLive

Tour stats

Personnel[edit | edit source]

  • Billy Corgan – guitar, vocals, production, recording, mixing
  • James Iha – guitar
  • D'arcy Wretzky – bass
  • Jimmy Chamerblin – drums
  • Flood – producer, mixing, recording
  • Alan Moulder – production, mixing, recording
  • Chris Shepard – recording
  • Barry Goldberg – recording, mixing assistance
  • Dave Kresl – recording assistance
  • Claudine Pontier – recording assistance
  • Howie Weinberg – mastering

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1001 Albums: You Must Hear Before You Die. Hachette; 2011. Print.
  2. Guitar World — January 1997
  3. Hartmann, Graham. "The Smashing Pumpkins – Rock Star Cameos on 'The Simpsons'". Loudwire.
  4. "Yelena Yemchuk Video | Interviews". OVGuide. Archived from the original on November 25, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  5. Corgan, Billy. "King B's". Guitar World. Retrieved October 13, 2022.
  6. Corgan, Billy. "Ebracer (with YUNGBLUD)". iHeartPodcasts. Retrieved October 13, 2022.
  7. "RAYGUN". Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  8. "Free Music Videos, Video Interviews, Music Video News, Live Sessions and Clips". Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  9. "Pastichio Medley". Retrieved September 27, 2011.
  10. Corgan, Billy (January 1997). "King B's". Guitar World.
  11. "Smashing Pumpkins 'Mellon Collie' Reissue Is a Fan's Dream Come True | Antiquiet". Antiquiet. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  12. "I Need a Hero: In honor of Smashing Pumpkins' twentieth anniversary, a list of Billy Corgan's top ten guitar heroes". Riverfront Times. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  13. "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 9200." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  14. " – The Smashing Pumpkins – Zero". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  15. Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  16. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  17. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  18. "The Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  19. "RPM Year End Alternative Top 50". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  20. "American single certifications – Smashing Pumpkins – Zero". RIAA. 1996-06-25. Retrieved November 15, 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  21. "New Zealand single certifications – Smashing Pumpkins – Zero". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved January 24, 2018.

External links[edit | edit source]