Billy Corgan and a band he has chosen to call "the Smashing Pumpkins" released a (very good) new album this year, leading media outlets large and small to give him a forum in which to air his grievances. In June, he told Antiquiet he would "piss on Radiohead." In September, he told us that the alternative community was "self-reverential" and "narcissistic" (it's a terrific interview, BTW, and you really should read it if you haven't already). And in August, he talked smack to a publication in the Philippines, reigniting beefs that are nearly two decades old, accusing recently reunited '90s icons Pavement and Soundgarden of making cynical cash-grabs. As I wrote when it went down:
The Billy Corgan/Soundgarden beef has been going on at least since that falling out at Lolla '94, and the Corgan/Pavement beef has had legs since the "Range Life" dig that same year. And man, nobody holds a grudge like BC. In an interview given prior to a show in the Philippines last week, Corgan took shots at both those recently reunited bands: "There are those bands that are essentially coming back only to make money — playing their old albums, and maybe somewhere in the back of their minds they're thinking there might be a future. I am not in that business, obviously. I condemn anybody who's in that business but doesn't admit [he's] in that business. When Soundgarden came back and they just played their old songs, great. I was a fan of Soundgarden, but call it for what it is. They're just out there to have one more round at the till; same with Pavement and these other bands."
Of course, that was before Soundgarden released an album of utterly mediocre new material. So ... score one for Soundgarden?
Argue all you like about the quality of music produced in 2012, but no one can deny the truly outstanding beefs to which we bore witness in The Year That Was. Social media has made those dust-ups easier and more immediate, of course; 40 percent of our 10 Biggest Band Beefs Of 2012 started or built steam on Twitter and/or Facebook. (That percentage would be at an even half if either blogs or online poker-discussion forums were considered “social media.”) The other half started either in traditional media or in real life — as it happens, both IRL confrontations included on this list ended in physical violence.
It was that kinda year: A lot of people talking a lot of smack on Twitter; a small handful showing up at the club with a knife or an agenda. Perhaps most interestingly, though, the beefs that claimed our Nos. 1, 2, and 3 spots centered not on petty personal melodramas, but industry-based outrage. These were vocal and heated disagreements whose roots lay in a fundamental philosophical divide over new technology. Laugh all you like about the words and actions of parties on either or both sides — heck, I laughed plenty myself; it’s the best medicine! — but the questions at the cores of those feuds are Big Ones: What are the responsibilities of the artist, the industry, the audience? None of these beefs led to bloodshed, but the revolution’s most explosive moments are likely in its future.
But we’re not here to speculate — we’re here to look back on a year of sweet beefery. So let’s get started. The Countdown kicks off here.