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Steve Harwell singing
The True Story Behind Smash Mouth’s All Star
History - Music
Smash Mouth’s "All Star" is an iconic song that’s hard to escape even if you try. The song has been on countless movie soundtracks and has been a perpetual hit for Smash Mouth.
In a Songfacts interview, Smash Mouth guitarist-songwriter Greg Camp explained that it was the cynical, bullying attitudes toward the band’s fans that originally inspired the song.
Camp said, "We would get these big bags of fan mail [...] 85-90 percent of the mail was from these kids who were being bullied [...] for liking Smash Mouth [music and style]."
He added, "So we were like, 'We should write a song for fans.'" The song’s popularity has been frustrating for Camp due to demands for more of the same, but he’s proud of the song.
"All Star's" fame was helped by its inclusion in the hit film "Shrek." The song became tightly bound to the series, even getting a brief marching band reprise in "Shrek the Third."
The afterlife of "All Star" after its initial release has been multifaceted. It’s been driven mostly by the slew of remixes, parodies, and memes of the song all over the internet.
Frontman Steve Harwell told Rolling Stone that sometimes it feels "a little disrespectful" and "an honor" at the same time, and "[t]hey wouldn’t do it if they didn’t love it."
Smash Mouth is named for a sports term, and the title has led many to assume "All Star" involves sports. Camp denied this, but that hasn’t stopped fans from playing it in stadiums.