The Underrated Genius of Smash Mouth’s “All Star”

S SD in Slackjaw
Jun 9 · 4 min read
The level of swag in this picture is decidedly off the charts

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Smash Mouth’s seminal masterpiece “All Star”. The song was an instant hit and solely responsible for the success of the Shrek franchise. Twenty damn years and the song continues to inspire countless people all over the internet!

Now, there are innumerable reasons why this fantastic work of art continues to glow and shine. But I am here to talk about one and only one important reason: the lyrics were a messianic call to stop climate change!

I will demonstrate this by annotating the song, line by line, Genius style:

[Verse 1] Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed

The first line immediately puts us in the head space of someone warned about the impending global catastrophe, but is too dumb to take action!

She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb In the shape of an “L” on her forehead

Our protagonist fails to pay heed and instead foolishly mocks the scientist who warned him. The lady in question retaliates, and rightfully so, by calling him what we will all become if we don’t act fast: Losers.

[Pre-Chorus] Well, the years start coming and they don’t stop coming Fed to the rules and I hit the ground running Didn’t make sense not to live for fun Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb

As time goes by our protagonist realizes the error of his ways. He realizes that following ‘rules’ he was fed by a consumerist society will lead to ‘no fun’ in the long term. It becomes clear to him that late stage capitalism only makes you feel better superficially, but does not make you a better person itself. Brilliant!

So much to do, so much to see So what’s wrong with taking the backstreets? You’ll never know if you don’t go You’ll never shine if you don’t glow

With so much to see in the natural world (before it’s seared by wildfires) our protagonist asks: Why not just do your own thing? Live your life and don’t destroy the world. Easy enough isn’t it? ISN’T IT?!?

[Chorus] Hey now, you’re an all star Get your game on, go play Hey now, you’re a rock star Get the show on, get paid And all that glitters is gold Only shooting stars break the mold

The most interesting part of the song! The brilliant minds in Smash Mouth knew that positive reinforcement is a much more effective tool than shaming. So, instead of humiliating consumerists, the song’s chorus rewards the brave souls that choose to ‘break the mold’ and act in sustainable ways. Because these type of people are the true All Stars. FUCKING GENIUS!!!

[Verse 2] It’s a cool place, and they say it gets colder You’re bundled up now, wait ’til you get older

Here, our protagonist reminds us that some people are still backward thinkers who believe everything is still ‘cool’. (smh)

But the meteor men beg to differ Judging by the hole in the satellite picture

And as any rational man, he cites authoritative figures (say, fucking NASA!!!) who think differently from the fools above. After all, they have seen the holes in our ozone layer and said: ‘we’re fucked’

The ice we skate is getting pretty thin The water’s getting warm so you might as well swim

A reminder: the ice caps are melting! And if the world is already going to shit, might as well try and do something to prevent worsening the situation.

My world’s on fire, how ‘bout yours? That’s the way I like it and I’ll never get bored

A reinforcement of the line above. The writing’s on the wall, might as well act fast. And sure, it is hard to fight the urges of late-stage capitalism, but this challenge will keep you from a bored and complacent consumerist life.

[Interlude] (Go for the moon) X4

This one is subtle. Let’s start with: ‘What if there is no turning back?’ In that case, we should look at the ‘moon’, and beyond. Two decades before the fourth Musketeer claimed this as his idea. Mind = fucking blown!

[Verse 3] Somebody once asked Could I spare some change for gas? “I need to get myself away from this place”

This solidifies the above theory about terraforming other planets. Not only that, it acknowledges the technological challenge and resource intensive nature of such a feat.

I said, “Yep, what a concept I could use a little fuel myself And we could all use a little change”

This wonderful verse manages to both change the meaning of the lines above and end the song in a positive note. Our protagonist acknowledges the lie late stage capitalism told us, ‘we all need more fuel’. He then turns it around and says it’s better for us ALL to change that harmful thinking pattern. Because, after all, there is hope still. (I’m not crying, you’re crying).


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Glorified accountant. Writer, mostly of fiction, though I dab in other forms. Also, a twat here:



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