Anyone frequenting the internet may have come across a curious trend in recent times–it concerns the one-hit wonder by Californian ska punk band Smash Mouth.
“All-Star,” a song that was initially straight-faced and ubiquitous in every early 2000’s film as the song to play over a “feel-good” song, has now become perhaps the most memed and deconstructed song of the 21st century.
But why this song in particular? It was released on May 4, 1999; on the verge of the new millennium and a time where what was called the “Y2K aesthetic” was all the rage in music video production. Dutch angles, fish-eye lenses, sharp vibrant colours and a somewhat surreal general artificiality was what most bands seemed to equate with the oncoming millennium.
The music video for “All-Star” is one of the aesthetic’s prime examples. The video is a tie-in with its appearance in the average superhero film “Mystery Men” (1999), but there’s no plot to be seen.
Instead, what is featured is an almost stream-of-consciousness onslaught of houses on fire, beauty queens and cheerleaders on school buses. In other words it’s sort of a demented version of all clichés from a teen comedy of the time mixed into a blender.
As mentioned, the song’s appearance in many films at the turn of the century helped its exposure such as “Rat Race” (2001) and “Digimon: The Movie” (2000), but many agree that its appearance in “Shrek” (2001) was what made a meme legend out of a novelty.
“Shrek” promised to be a witty reaction to the schmaltz of 90’s Disney. But the series eventually devolved into lazy pop culture references and pointless celebrity cameos. Dave Sims of The Atlantic worded it best saying that the “Shrek” franchise along with the appearance of “All-Star” in the first film encapsulated “everything that was initially exciting and then quickly patronizing [about the early 2000’s]” and that “It’s symbolic of so many things we briefly loved before quickly realizing their emptiness.”
There’s no shortage of video memes of the Smash Mouth track, exploring it from every angle imaginable. Below are some of the more notable examples that will leave you saying “Yep, what a concept!”
All-Star but it’s David Bowie’s Space Oddity
Surely this is what David Bowie envisioned what would arise from his first big hit. Bowie may have seen himself as a “Black Star” on his last album before his death, but now the alternative is obvious.
All-Star but every word is in alphabetical order
The uploader of this video lays out on the table the varied vocabulary of Smash Mouth sorted conveniently into alphabetical order. And yet somehow the video remains just as coherent as the original.
All-Star Played on an old Samsung Phone
What better way to capture the “wow this is amazing” feeling of a song that would soon become horribly dated than to play the song on an old Samsung phone from the 90’s! Surely the technology will never be better than it is at this point.
All-Star but everything is a “shed”
This video explores the classic idea of repeating a mundane word to death until the sound and meaning of the word becomes meaningless. Coupled with the overly expressive singing of lead singer of Steve Harwell to somehow make it even more hilariously obnoxious, what else can be said but “sheeeeed.”