I was two minutes into dotflist's backwards version of Smash Mouth's "All Star" when I realized I was actually laughing out loud. They were small chuckles, sure, but they were still real-life lols for a tweaked take on a song I've heard probably more than a thousand times. How did this happen?
I can still remember a time when "All Star" coexisted alongside Len's "Steal My Sunshine" and the New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" as a simple summer song, rolled out for movies and barbecues. But in space year 2016, the song is now a kind of internet catalyst, an innately funny spark that, when applied to almost anything, gives it an absurdist tone.
"Fun for live to not sense make didn't."
It's not immediately obvious when this process occurred, but the internet event known as "Smash Mouth Eat The Eggs" — in which humorist and internet puppetmaster Jon 'fart' Hendren waged a campaign to convince Smash Mouth lead singer Steve Harwell to eat eggs on stage for money until he either threw up or cried — certainly helped turn the band from one-hit wonders to a modern meme. The fact that Hendren regularly referred to the rosy-cheeked Harwell as "Smash Mouth" rather than by his actual name helped cement the joke.
But there's also just an innate cheerfulness in both the song, with its bouncy chorus and ska-ish guitar upstrokes, and rosy-cheeked lead singer Steve Harwell — a man who got to Guy Fieri's look years before Guy Fieri — that seems to jibe with the hyper-cynical natives of weird Twitter and YouTube. That endearing quality is compounded by the slightly bemused response Smash Mouth has given to its newfound internet fame: unsure, but cautiously accepting, like your dad when you try to describe Snapchat.
Sing a modern pop song backwards and you've got a backwards pop song; sing "All Star" backwards and it's an arch joke, and laughing at it is a signifier that you get internet culture. Now, sing along with me, I know you know the words — even backwards.
"Go don't you if never know you'll, glow don't you if shine never you'll!"