“All Star” by Smash Mouth

The term all-star is one which is most commonly associated with sports – to the point that this song has been utilized in such a capacity, despite obviously having nothing to do with athletics (per se). Instead, what inspired the sentiment behind this piece is the fact that Smash Mouth, as successful as they may have been during their heyday, weren’t exactly what you would define as one of the cooler bands of the 1990s. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Smash Mouth's All Star at Lyrics.org.

So the situation was such that a lot of their fans got teased for liking their music. In fact by going through their fan mail, Smash Mouth came to discover that – for whatever reason – a lot of their followers were akin to outcasts. And it was with such individuals as the intended addressee in mind that “All Star” was written.

Lyrics of “All Star”

And even with that foreknowledge in mind, some parts of this track, such as the second verse, are still difficult to understand word-for-word. But even if a listener cannot make out any of the lyrics besides for the chorus, it is still pretty clear that this is a song of encouragement.

And going back to the intended addressee, what is being put forth, most simply explained, is that listeners should toughen up and boldly pursue their goals in life. Or explained otherwise, outcasts or what have you may commonly suffer from self-esteem issues, i.e. those that develop from being taunted, ostracized and/or looked down upon. So the vocalist’s goal appears to be counteracting the resultant timidity. 

To the contrary, under his estimation those who are considered ‘losers’ also have “a rock star” active yet embedded inside of them. Relatedly the vocalist is saying that it’s better to embrace and attempt to fulfill one’s potential instead of being intimidated by it.

And taking matters a step further, in the third verse, the singer suggests that we all could benefit from stepping outside of our comfort zones – so to speak – from time to time. In other words, “a little change” is presented as a good thing. So the implication behind all of this is that complacency can prove to be an impediment to true edification, or something along those lines.

Takeaway

Regardless whatever philosophical intricacies may exist in the lyrics, it is clear that the thesis sentiment behind this piece is one of encouragement. And in putting all of this together, it can be said that what’s being implied throughout is that occasionally, we human beings may lose sight of our own potential and therefore should be reminded that sometimes, you need to take a proactive approach to life. But this message is primarily aimed at those who may be in a situation where their self-esteem level is not ideal.

Smash Mouth's "All Star" Lyrics

When did Smash Mouth release “All Star”?

Smash Mouth is a band of rockers from the major Californian city of San Jose. The group’s official origin dates back to the mid-1990s. It was also during that decade in which they dropped their biggest hits. But the band’s signature song is “All Star”, which came out on 4 May 1999 as the second single from their sophomore LP, “Astro Lounge”. 

This track was also included on the soundtrack to Mystery Men, the Ben Stiller film that came out around that same time. And both of those albums are products of Interscope Records.

This song was notably featured in Mystery Men, to the point that its music video, as directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol (aka McG), featured appearances from the characters/actors that star in the movie.

Credits

At the time this song came out, Smash Mouth consisted of the following:

  • Steve Harwell
  • Paul De Lisle
  • Greg Camp

Camp, the group’s guitarist, is the sole writer of the track, with its producer being Eric Valentine.

All Star

More Interesting Facts

Smash Mouth is still extant to this day, even though they’ve only had one solid hit, 2001’s “I’m a Believer”, during the 21st century. Camp left, seemingly for good, in 2011, and Harwell, who had been holding down lead vocals throughout the year, retired in 2021. But Paul De Lisle, the group’s bassist who has also been down since day one, is still part of the group.

“All Star” topped a couple of Billboard charts (Adult Top 40 and Mainstream Top 40), in addition to peaking at number 5 on the Hot 100 and representing in a dozen other nations. Moreover, this song has gone multi-platinum in the US and UK. And in 2000, it also earned the distinction nominated for a Grammy (which went to Santana’s “Maria Maria” in the category of Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group).

But way beyond that, the fact remains that this is one of the most-ubiquitous and recognizable tunes from the 1990s. Part of the reason this song proved so popular was because it was notably featured in a number of films around the time it came out. Besides Mystery Men, that list would also include the animated classic Shrek and the ensemble-cast comedy flick Rat Race, both of which came out in 2001. In fact in that latter case, Smash Mouth also appeared in the movie to render “All Star”.

“All Star” was written while Smash Mouth was under pressure from Interscope to come up with a viable lead single for “Astro Lounge” (even though technically, this appears to be the second single from the album). As such, this track was actually the last song the band recorded for that project.

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