Why, in particular, is Billy Corgan so terrible these days?

I know there are Corgan haters out there, and I’m not one of them. For the purposes of this thread, I’m presupposing that the Smashing Pumpkins were THE best band of the nineties and one of the finer bands of the past several decades. Among their peers, they were simply a cut above in songwriting, instrumentation, production, vision, and scope. Corgan always went the extra mile to be bigger, weirder, artier, heavier, and ultimately better, even when it required extreme pretense on his part.

Since the Smashing Pumpkins’ return last year, things have been nowhere near the quality of even the band’s weakest moments. Zeitgeist was terrible - the entire thing was truly worse than even the weakest tracks on the Zwan album (which was nowhere near as bad as people tried to make it out to be). The newest song, “G.L.O.W.”, is one of the most terrible things I’ve heard in years period, from anybody.

What went wrong? Why is Corgan so completely terrible now? How did he go from being amazing to being awful? What’s going on?

The wrong answer to this question is “when he re-formed SP with new members.” Smashing Pumpkins has always been Corgan and Chamberlain, period - James and D’arcy were only window dressing and barely even played on the studio albums. The two major new members are significantly better musicians and personalities than James and Darcy, so you can’t pin it on them.

He’s off drugs?

Or maybe he is on RX-psypharmaceuticals?

Maybe he is “experimenting” and listened to to much contemporary top 40 muzak.

Sounds like he’s going for a wall of sound syncopation.

Maybe this is his “ironic” Chris Gaines phase.

Maybe he is giving too much creative control to his new band? Stepping back, maybe?

He might be killing the Buddha on the path.

The biggest problem I see with Corgan’s music is that he’s totally lost his sense of dynamics. The great thing about the Pumpkins during the Siamese Dream-Mellon Collie era was all the tempo shifts, complex song structures, and sheer variety of music. Too much of Zeigeist or Machina (the last pre-breakup record) seemed like Corgan picking a riff he liked, endlessly layering guitars, and calling it a day.
I wonder if changing band members had more of an effect than we though. You’re right, Darcy and Iha had minimal creative input during the early Pumpkins material. But even in a band dominated by one member, the leader still has to placate the other band members somehow–preventing him from totally running amock. Now in a band of Corgan and hired hands, there’s no one really able to tell him “no”. It kinda reminds of Brian Wilson or John Fogerty. Both guys pretty much controlled their bands. Yet nothing they recorded solo can touch what they did when they were surrounded by supposedly “window dressing”.

I think they kinda sucked in the first place, although the 90s were definitely the high point of the Pumpkins’ creative power. It seems they were also so in sync with the 90’s zeitgeist that this made their 90s material seem better than it was. So, now that what little originality there was in the first place has worn off, and the 90s zeitgeist is officially deader’n hell, the Pumpkins’ horrendousness shines through and is easily perceptible. IMHO.

I see he’s still kinda got a Max Schreck/Cenobite thing going.

I agree, that wasn’t a bad album at all. I still listen to it occasionally.

As far as your question goes, wrong drugs? too many? too little? spoiled by success? I dunno, but they sure have fallen a long way.

You misspelled “Tom Mahler”.

We have so many of these threads here on SDMB. “Why did Weezer get so bad?” “Why did Metallica get bad?” etc etc.

Because they grew old! Musicians make their best music when they’re young. It has always been like that.
By the way, it’s a somewhat silly thing to presuppose that they are the best band of the 90s. acclaimedmusic.net has them at nr 13.

He’s an arrogant turd who had so much previous hero worship that he lost all sense of reality. He thought that he could toss out whatever crap he thought was artistically significant and people would lap it up. It was crap. I think it coincided with shaving his head.