Bullet with Butterfly Wings

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"Bullet with Butterfly Wings"
Single by The Smashing Pumpkins
from the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Released October 24, 1995
Recorded 1995
Length 4:16
Label Virgin
Writer(s) Billy Corgan
Certification Gold (RIAA)
The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology
"Bullet with Butterfly Wings"
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness track listing
"Here Is No Why"
"Bullet with Butterfly Wings"
"To Forgive"
Music sample

"Bullet with Butterfly Wings" is a song by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. It was the lead single from the band's 1995 double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The song won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.[5] This song was the band's first Top 40 U.S. hit, peaking at number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also spent six weeks at number 2 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, and peaked at number 4 on the Mainstream Rock chart.[6] The song was named the 91st best hard rock song of all time by VH1 in 2009.[7] The song was ranked number 70 on the 2008 list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time" of Rolling Stone.[8] The song came second in the Triple J Hottest 100, 1995,[9] later was voted #51 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time, 2009[10] and #25 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of the Past 20 Years, 2013.[11]


The song had its origins during the recording of 1993's Siamese Dream. According to frontman Billy Corgan, "somewhere, I have a tape of us from 1993 endlessly playing the 'world is a vampire' part over and over".[12] It was not until 1995 that Corgan finished the song with the noted chorus "rat in a cage", on an acoustic guitar during the same session that "Landslide" was recorded.[12] The lyrics "Can you fake it, for just one more show?" may refer to the band's experience headlining the 1993 Lollapalooza festival, with Corgan calling it the "old job".[13][14] Along with other parts of the album, Corgan appears to compare himself to Jesus Christ, with the line "Jesus was an only son / Tell me I'm the chosen one".[13]

The B-side song, "...Said Sadly", is one of a small number of Smashing Pumpkins songs written by and featuring the vocals of James Iha, rather than Corgan, who is the band's primary songwriter and vocalist. The 1996 re-issue, included in the Aeroplane Flies High box set, featured a number of extra b-sides that are all covers versions of songs by popular '70s and '80s rock bands.[15]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song, directed by Samuel Bayer, is a performance video with heavy conceptual elements. The visual look of the video was inspired by the work of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado on diamond mining,[16][17] while, in contrast, the band used the video to debut their new glam rock wardrobes - notably, Billy Corgan's black shirt with the word "Zero" written in silver, and silver pants.[18] The video also marks the last filmed appearance of Billy Corgan prior to his decision to shave his head.[19] (The band's first promotional performance of the song, as musical guests of Saturday Night Live on November 11, 1995, also was the first public appearance of Corgan without hair, a look which he has consistently maintained ever since, as of 2016.)

When asked why the band chose Bullet for the first video, Corgan responded "the record company did a survey of K-Mart shoppers between 30 and 40 and this is the song they came up with". "This is the blue light special", said Chamberlin.[20]

Track listing[edit]

Original US/UK CD single [21][22]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"   Billy Corgan 4:16
2. "...Said Sadly"   James Iha 3:09

"...Said Sadly" features Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt on vocals.

1996 Re-issue [23]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"   Billy Corgan 4:16
2. "...Said Sadly"   James Iha 3:09
3. "You're All I've Got Tonight"   The Cars 3:10
4. "Clones (We're All)"   Alice Cooper 2:43
5. "A Night Like This"   The Cure 3:36
6. "Destination Unknown"   Missing Persons 4:14
7. "Dreaming"   Blondie 5:11

US 7" double A-side single [24]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "1979"   Billy Corgan 4:24
2. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"   Billy Corgan 4:16

Cover versions[edit]

In other media[edit]

The song is used, slightly edited, as the title song for the Animal Planet reality television series Whale Wars, which follows the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as they chase Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.[32] The song is also used in the South Park episode "Whale Whores", which parodies Whale Wars.[33]

"Weird Al" Yankovic performed the chorus in "The Alternative Polka" from his Bad Hair Day album.[34]

The song was featured as a playable track in the video game Guitar Hero 5.[35]

It was also used in the launch trailer for Dead Space 2.[36]

The song was the TNA Lockdown wrestling pay-per-view theme song for 2009.[37]

UFC also used it for the Anderson Silva vs Nick Diaz fight in UFC 183's short trailer.[38]


  1. ^ A.U. (August 6, 2015). "The 95 Best Alternative Rock Songs of 1995". Spin. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ 1001 Albums: You Must Hear Before You Die. Hachette; 2011. Print.
  3. ^ Herrera, Monica (July 23, 2010). "Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan Collapses Onstage". Billboard. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ Richardson, Sean (February 13, 2003). "Ride on". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  5. ^ grammy.com
  6. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins | Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  7. ^ "VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs". Stereogum. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  8. ^ "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 31, 2008. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  9. ^ "1995 | triple j Hottest 100". Triple J. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  10. ^ "Countdown | triple j's Hottest 100 of All Time, 2009". Triple J. Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Countdown | Twenty Years of triple j's Hottest 100". Triple J. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Corgan, Billy (January 1997). "King B's". Guitar World. 
  13. ^ a b Pareles, John (October 22, 1995). "RECORDINGS VIEW;Alternative Rockers Think Big, Uneasily". The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  14. ^ McKelvey, Iain. "The Throwback, 1995". Vulture Magazine. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  15. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Aeroplane Flies High". AllMusic. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  16. ^ Finished challenges. "2 out of 3 - Bullet with butterfly wings: Digital Photography Review". Dpreview.com. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  17. ^ "Bullet with Butterfly Wings". Personal.umich.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  18. ^ SPIN Media LLC (June 1996). SPIN. SPIN Media LLC. pp. 53–. ISSN 0886-3032. 
  19. ^ Mac, Ryan; Dunn, Charlie (December 14, 2010). "Review: Live 105's Not So Silent Night". The Stanford Daily. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  20. ^ MTV News with Kurt Loder (Motion picture). MTV. October 1995. 
  21. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins Bullet With Butterfly Wings UK 5" CD SINGLE (54612)". Eil.com. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  22. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins Bullet With Butterfly Wings USA 5" CD SINGLE (241127)". Eil.com. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  23. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins The Aeroplane Flies High USA BOX SET (76593)". Eil.com. 1996-12-09. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  24. ^ "Smashing Pumpkins 1978/Bullet With Butterfly Wings USA 7" RECORD (224570)". Eil.com. 2002-09-27. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  25. ^ Baines, Huw. "The Menzingers - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff - August 9 2013 (Live Review)". Stereogum.com. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  26. ^ Leahey, Andrew. "Explains It All". Allmusic. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  27. ^ Huey, Steve. "A Gothic Industrial Tribute to the Smashing Pumpkins". Allmusic. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Nerve Damage". Allmusic. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  29. ^ Heaney, Gregory. "Dead New World". Allmusic. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  30. ^ "The World is a Vampire". theghostandthegrace.com. Archived from the original on June 3, 2012. 
  31. ^ Melia, Daniel. "Deftones, Panic! At The Disco for Smashing Pumpkins tribute album". Gigwise. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  32. ^ Feeney, Steve. "Review: Pumpkins a smash at State Theatre". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  33. ^ "The Fight Is On". Southparkstudios.com. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  34. ^ ""Weird Al" Yankovic - Bad Hair Day". Spfc.org. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  35. ^ Brudvig, Erik. "OFFICIAL GUITAR HERO 5 SONG LIST". IGN. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Dead Space 2". Electronic Arts. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  37. ^ Lapatine, Scott. "Billy Corgan Adapts "Butterfly Wings" For Wrestling Commercial, Joins Twitter". Stereogum. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  38. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZzKKtyF2ZI

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Geek Stink Breath" by Green Day
Canadian RPM Alternative 30 number-one single
November 6–27, 1995
Succeeded by
"My Friends" by Red Hot Chili Peppers