Have you ever had a completely different interpretation of a song after you had aged-up a bit and gained a more mature perspective on the world? Well, I decided to write this analysis because I had a very thoughtful moment while revisting “Ava Adore” (The Smashing Pumpkins). There are also parallels with that track’s song-writing and the premiere track of Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” album, but I’ll explain the comparisons later on in the essay.
For a little bit of backstory to my relationship with The Pumpkins’ Adore album… to put it lightly, I used to be completely obsessed with it. After I found a copy for a couple bucks at a used bookstore, I would listen to the whole album 2-3 times a day. At the time, I didn’t really GET the meaning behind “Ava Adore”, so it felt tonally inconsistent with the rest of the record.
It had an almost nightclub-sounding, drum-machine beat and the lyrics came off as juvenile with how much they degraded their object of desire. The mirror-opposite of the album’s dolefully somber tones that are conveyed through phrases ranging from a hauntingly disjointed piano melody to the effervescence of ghostly synth sounds. Throughout each lyric, there is a sense of lingering regret, like a cephalophore that feels a bitter-resentment from being forced to carry his own head.
The line in “Ava Adore” that always baffled me is: “And I’ll pull your crooked teeth, you’ll be perfect just like me.” Anyone that knows anything about The Pumpkins — knows that Billy Corgan has messed up teeth; he always used to bring attention to them, in what seemed like an act of self-depreciation. It made me wonder if all of the lyrics in the track were somehow meant to mock superficiality — or perhaps the pervasive, monarchal power-structure that enforces these values.
Verses like “and you’ll always be my whore, because you’re the one that I adore” can be interpreted as spitting in face of an abusive lover by wryly repeating their own words back to them; or maybe the expression is meant to mock the public’s dehumanizing lust towards A-list celebrities? It reminded me of the interpretation I had of Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.”
Some saw this track as harkening back to the psycho ex-girlfriend persona that Ms. Swift had in the “Blank Space” music video, but the tone and the droning repetition the song’s title made me think that the song was instead about victim-blaming. Almost like she is taunting her transgressors, who once said: “look what you made me do [to you].” Not to mention the lyrics that state that she has died (assuming it is a metaphor) over and over again, in tandem with the reprisal of the chorus; she is tired of being mistreated and objectified, it has happened countless times.
I believe that The Smashing Pumpkins’s “Ava Adore” and Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” have the same underlying meaning in them. Both spearheading the darkest albums in each of the artists’ respective careers. They are similar records, aside from the lower quality and tonal inconsistency in Ms. Swift’s “Reputation” album.
Bonus: I have more evidence to add to the “Evangelion: Dissociative Alter Theory” but I am holding off until I can make a YouTube video with visual proof. My mic just needs a stereo to AUX adapter, and I haven’t been able to purchase one yet. I am excited to sing and stream vocal content as a VTuber in the future, though!