Crate-Digging Quick Takes: Smashing Pumpkins – "Ava Adore" (single)

I have a completely-filled 120 GB iPod classic, the record crate of the digital age, containing my entire music library. I’m listening to each release in alphabetical order by record title – kind of a virtual archaeological dig. These are my findings.

(Virgin, 1998)

Now this is what the quick takes are really going to be for in the future: singles and EPs. We begin.

I know I’m paraphrasing myself when I say this, but “Ava Adore,” lead single from Smashing Pumpkins’ 1998 album Adore, was a nifty bit of naughty fun when it was first released, but it’s aged over the years as one of the worst songs on the album. I throw out Reznor’s name in conversation about it, as it’s easy to compare this song to something like Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” which (and again, read the Adore review) annoys the hell out of me. Now that’s kind of saying something, as I needed the album itself to age ten years before I could really stomach it. Or maybe that was me that needed to age. Nope, nope, forget it: I blame Billy Corgan fully for his hamfisted attempts at combining romantic entanglement and self-loathing. (Why I ever thought it was cool…)

Take the song out of the context of Adore. There’s a new life that’s breathed into it. And it’s hard for me to admit that my initial (and even well-marinated) opinions may have been a little harsh. You have to get past that goofy beginning couplet and bouncy bass to appreciate what a good song it really is. There are tons of bands out there that wish they could’ve written it. Billy Corgan, in spite of himself, got there first. And I mean, is there really much better on the radio? Don’t change the dial from “Ava Adore” – between the country stations, talk radio, and classic rock, you’re not going to do any better.

The B-sides are unremarkable, which is a shame for a band whose B-sides can rival their album counterparts. “Czarina” is so bland I can’t even remember what it sounds like. And “Once in a While,” removed from the better tracks on the Adore demo, actually sounds OK here. Hindsight, Einstein, big fish in a 3-song pond – whatever I choose as my excuse, it’s hard to fault this little single. I just wouldn’t pay all that much for it.

RIYL: Smashing Pumpkins, duh; and Nine Inch Nails

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