Smash Mouth’s best known song, with part of its enduring popularity/infamy caused by its inclusion in the opening scene of Shrek. And yet the music video is a tie-in to another film, 1999’s Mystery Men.
On “All Star,” Smash Mouth takes us through the simple, action-oriented philosophy of a dumb but aggressively upbeat narrator.
In the first verse, the narrator establishes himself as dumb. In the pre-chorus, he describes his philosophy of breaking rules, living hedonistically, and embracing action. In the chorus, he recites a mantra of self-encouragement (and self-delusion): “I am capable and will thrive when I take bold chances to pursue superficial goals.” In the second verse, the narrator provides an example of how his jester-like philosophy plays out. In this verse, global warming melts the ice caps, so the narrator simply suggests going swimming.
Of course, despite asserting that he is an “all star” and a “rock star,” he certainly is neither of those things. He is a fool who was (properly) advised that the world would roll him. He is so far from an “all star” that a dumb girl called him a loser. He subscribes to the plainly ill-advised belief that all that glitters is gold. He aspires to be a “shooting star” just to break a mold, unaware that a shooting star is, by its nature, destined to immediately fade out and die. And his response to global warming, while cheerful and resourceful, does nothing to address the problem.
Smash Mouth may have been offering an arch commentary on this quintessentially American (and Californian) philosophy. Maybe they saw some of this narrator in themselves. What is clear, however, is that they have identified this narrator as a loser and idiot, so his philosophy is not to be interpreted as a Smash Mouth lifestyle endorsement. The band’s aim is to present a jolly jester’s worldview, and perhaps comment on the jester himself, but not to advocate that listeners follow this jester. After all, that path leads to delusion, destruction by external environmental factors, and flaming out as quickly as a shooting star.