Tag Archives: music

Please enjoy this selection of All Star meme videos

There was a trend early last year of making meme videos around Smash Mouth’s 1999 hit “All Star”. And today I want to revisit some of the best content that came out of that trend.

2018 memes are pretty boring for me. They’re standardised to the point of redundancy. I’ll write a longer blog post about this at some point, but I’m sick of seeing ‘three thing’ memes consisting of a trifecta of me // thing i like or should do // thing i don’t like or shouldn’t do. Literally they all follow this format: distracted boyfriend, ‘off ramp’, ‘bowling’, ‘gru’s plan’, ‘Jason Momoa Sneaking Up on Henry Cavill’, ‘is this a pigeon’. It’s all awful and contributing the internet hellscape we are all living in.

So 2017 Smash Mouth video memes an oasis of purity in this desolate wasteland of content. Let’s start off with something simple.

‘All Star’ by Smash Mouth, but all notes are in C

This is fun! I love when people take songs and mess around with the keys and stuff, like the major version of REM’s Losing my Religion.

This is especially fun because of how annoying it immediately gets. You’re so used to hearing the song rise and fall in pitch that hearing it entirely in one key is extremely frustrating. Good luck making it through the whole thing.

All Star but the melody is digitally remastered to be 200% more depressing

Actually quite moving.

SMASH MOUTH – ALL STAR BUT IT’S 1 BEAT OFF

This is so so so annoying. But it must be the hardest thing in the world to do, so I have nothing but respect for it.

“All Star” but it’s Sweet Home Alabama

This is when things start getting real good. Changing Smash Mouth to fit a different song. Especially when it’s a song as stupid as Sweet Home Alabama.

All Star but it’s Walking On The Sun by Santana feat. Rob Thomas

But it doesn’t have to be another band’s song! In this video, All Star is crunched up to fit into the lyrical tempo of another Smash Mouth song: ‘Walking On The Sun’. And in the video it’s played by Santana feat. Rob Thomas for some reason.

“All Star” by Smash Mouth, but only using the sounds and beats on my synth (and Ten Second Songs)

Here it is in a whole bunch of different genres! How fun!

All Star but it’s Donald Trump saying “covfefe”

Lol, I’d forgotten about the whole covfefe thing. Was that ever explained?

All Star by Smashmouth but every other word is reversed

Now we delve into the sub-genre of “but every word” videos. In this one, every other word is reversed. Why not every word? I don’t know!

“All Star” by Smashmouth but every word is someBODY

Sure, make EVERY word somebody. Why not? God is dead.

Allstar but every word is in alphabetical order

They sure do say “All Star” a lot.

All Star but the words are ordered by scrabble score

Just very very good.

All Star but “star” is replaced with Gordon Ramsay insults

Lmao. I love how long some of the clips are.

All Star but it’s played on the sharpest tool in my shed

Does what it says on the tin.

All Star But It’s Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in C Minor (1st mov.)

Similar to the ‘Smash Mouth mixed up with other pop songs’ genre, there’s another genre of All Star in the style of classical music. Sorry to all musicians.

All Star but it’s a Bach chorale following the conventions of the Common Practice Period

This is the one that convinced me All Star videos would be the greatest meme of all time. Not only is it a fantastic idea, but it’s perfectly executed. It’s not just a cheap joke, it’s fully backed up with knowledge and expertise. Kudos to the creator.

“All Star” by Smash Mouth but it’s Pachelbel’s Canon

The absolute pinnacle of the form. A modern masterpiece. The perfect bridge of modern and classical music. The zenith of human creativity and perfection.

And an honourable mention goes to…

Steamed Hams but it’s All Star

Delightfully devilish!

My Spotify playlists are awesome and you should follow them

I’ve got a bit of free time, so I thought I’d write something about music. But since I don’t really know anything about music history or the current ‘scene’ I thought I’d instead write about what I do know. And that’s me.

I’ve spent years curating my own playlists in Spotify. They’re my own little babies. Some of them are totally stupid, but I love them all. So here they are.

discovery
This is a basic list of everything I’ve “discovered” in Spotify since August 2011 (coincidentally the month I began to work at a certain music streaming service). It’s really interesting to me as a history of the music I’ve come across over the years. They’re not songs that are new as such, or even ones I hadn’t heard before, but ones that sort of became surfaced in my consciousness for some reason. So probably not that interesting for anyone else (1 follower though!).

musique
Apparently I started this one in 2010. Nice. It’s a collection of songs sung in French. There’s something about them that makes me happy. They also tend to be kind of 60s new wave things as well, so maybe it’s just an idle nostalgia for that time; back when Eurovision wasn’t the horrific spectacle it is today.

nostalgia
The title is probably ironic. These are songs that sound old. They’ve got that old crackly analogue recording sound to them, which instantly takes you back. Not that I recall listening to, say, Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday, as a child. But it’s a kind of false nostalgia, a longing for a better time in the past (Golden Age fallacy, I know right).

Wes
A simple one. Every song on Spotify featured in Wes Anderson films. Not as straightforward as you might think though, since not all the soundtracks are uploaded and have to be reconstructed manually (it took me a while to track down the right version of The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra for the Moonrise Kingdom section).

DAMN, SON. WHERE D’YA FIND THIS?!?!
Deliberately the most ridiculous playlist. This contains the most outrageous dubstep I’ve come across on Spotify. Some people confuse this with a dubstep adoration, but it’s more of a study into the excesses of the genre (particular via the ‘brostep’ subgenre). Wubs and drops are thrown together in the most audibly offensive way imagineable, taking it to almost an artform. Fascinating.

Glaze
An attempt to kind of focus in on a particular sound I like. Technically, it’s a shoegaze playlist, but it verges into anything kind of long and noisy. It’s called “Glaze” as a shoutout to its shoegaze origins, but also because it contains songs like The Jesus And Mary Chain – Just Like Honey and The Smashing Pumpkins – Mayonaise. I like the idea that it’s these big heavy dollops of sound coming at you through your headphones. Super pretentious, yeah.

Breeze
When I Met You
Jelly
LJBB
Four similar playlists. Just playlists of DJ sets by The Avalanches and Lemon Jelly. Finding the samples and arranging them in the right order is strangely satisfying.

It’s a rap!
My rap playlist. I don’t know anything about rap, but I know what I like.

it’s a live! (version)
Live versions of songs I like by bands I like.

ha.
Comedy bits. Playlists don’t just have to be just music! I should really add more to these.

Talk To Me
Songs that have talking in them. Either as a sample or just as an introduction or something. It’s always interesting when songs do this. Bright Eyes – Firewall is a good example – that opening insane monologue is just a killer.

Covers
Covers! I love covers. Everyone loves covers.

QQ (why can’t I hold all these feels?)
Like a kind of playlist of sad songs. This is like a necessity on Spotify. Music to weep to.

‘intensity’
I keep changing the title of this one. It’s meant to be a reference to Lost in Translation, but that’s not at all clear. Anyway, this is songs that have a sense of urgency about them. It’s an interesting sound and I like how it’s presently differently across the genres.

Broadside Ballads
My cheesiest playlist. Mostly just a way for me to have easy access to Bonnie Tyler, etc. But some of them are ok.

seen live
An odd playlist, since the actual songs themselves don’t matter. This is just a way for me to keep track of all the bands I’ve seen live (which I previously did with a Last.Fm tag – ouch).

Music for my bookshop
One day I will have a bookshop. And this is the playlist that will play in it. I’ll probably need more than seven, so I should expand the scope beyond songs about books I suppose.

yehaw
Cowboy songs. After seeing Django Unchained I kind of went off on one with this. I should probably review this at some point.

electro-swing
This is such a tiny subgenre, pretty much dominated by Parov Stelar and The Correspondents. I’ve tried to find some other stuff, but it is all more or less the same.

coolkid
Songs that have children singing in them. A ‘challenge playlist’ because there’s not as many songs as you think.

jimmy unrustler
My relaxation playlist. This is the playlist I like to listen to in the bath. Lovely stuff.

S.P.E.L.L.I.N.G.
Another challenge playlist. I try to find songs that have people spelling things out in them. More than you think.

poetry
Poetry on Spotify! Who’d have thought there’d be so much? Anyway, these are my top picks.

disnizzle
Samples from the Walt Disnizzle mixtape.

short but sweet
Songs under two minutes, an idea I totally stole from my friend Jamie.

>10
The opposite of the above. Songs greater than 10 minutes. Lots of post-rock and things.

oOo
A ridiculously niche one. Songs that have people going “oooh!” in them. Please let me know if you have any of your own.

Females
I should probably change the title. But it’s songs I like by female-fronted bands. Female singer-songwriters don’t really count.

uni
The music I listened to in uni, back when I bought physical CDs. Since this was pre-Spotify I listened to these albums basically on repeat for three years and they’re indelibly burnt into my brain. Good memories, mostly.

plinky
Piano songs. But specifically ones that have a nice bouncy sound to them (I don’t know if there’s a proper word for that style so I opted for ‘plinky’ instead – it sounds about right).

twang
Banjo songs. The banjo is so in right now – I really need to start practising on mine again.

classics
Classical music I like. I need to put more effort into keeping this updated. I don’t look very cultured atm.

The answer is Jesus. What is the question?
A joke playlist! Based on the Stewart Lee routine of the same setup, I answer using things on Spotify.

songs what are years
As the name says, songs that are years. Obviously there are many more, but these are the ones I like the most.

There are some that I’ve had to archive since they’re seasonal: xmas (Christmas) and 2spooky (Halloween).

And that’s it! I also have about 300 other playlists I’m subscribed to or albums I’ve saved as playlists. But no way am I going through all of those.

This will be interesting for me to revisit in a year or so. So consider this a sort of time capsule. And I’d encourage you to do something similar if you’re on Spotify.

And if you’re not on Spotify, what the hell is even wrong with you.

Review: Mouth Sounds by Neil Cicierega

JAN 2017 UPDATE: MOUTH MOODS ALSO NOW AVAILBLE HERE OMGGGG

Today I’d like to do my first music review on this blog. And it’s something rather special.

I’ll be reviewing “Mouth Sounds” by Neil Cicierega. It’s a 56 minute mashup of popular culture, with All Star by Smashmouth as a recurrent motif throughout. Sounds good, right?

Give it a listen here:

The first thing to say is that I’m already a huge fan of this format. I think that The Avalanches’ Gimix is one of the greatest musical works of all time. If you haven’t heard it before, give it a listen. It’s 45 minutes of pure aural bliss.

I’m also a huge fan of Walt Disnizzle by ARKHAM.p77, a more focussed mashup piece, which blends disney songs with rap. As with Gimix, it’s all samples but the composition makes it work wonderfully.

I’ve even had a go at the genre myself, with my own 27 1/2 minute mix receiving absolutely no critical acclaim whatsoever. But enough about that.

Mouth Sounds, then, is my latest infatuation. There’s also a sister mix Mouth Silence that you can check out, but here we’re just talking about the original, created by Neil Cicierega.

But who is this Neil Cicierega anyway? Well, chances are you’ve already heard of him, but didn’t know it. Ever heard of Potter Puppet Pals? Yup, Cicierega.

He’s also the creator of The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, one of my favourite youtube videos. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a flash animation about an all-out battle royale between various characters in pop culture. Godzilla fighting Shaquille O’Neal, that kind of thing.

Aside from being a catchy song, and extremely catchy, I loved TUSOUD for the way it called out pop culture figures. It’s like a game where you have to try and see how many references you can get (‘Spock, The Rock, Doc Oc, and Hulk Hogan’ is a fantastic line). It’s a masterful blend of these references as well as being a celebration of their fandoms. I don’t feel guilty for being able to recognise all these characters, despite them all being pretty nerdy. Instead it’s turned into something actually cool through the medium of song.

I think that last point might not be the clearest one I’ve ever made, but luckily I’ve got two great illustrations. And yes, they’re also mashups.

First up, Pop Culture by Madeon.

And secondly, the Golden Age of Video by Ricardo Autobahn.

What do these all have in common? Well, they throw together dozens of short clips from various sources in an exciting and entertaining way. Just like a cover of a song can breathe new life into it, these mashups re-present elements we’re super familiar with as part of a new, larger arrangement. “We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!” as the refrain of TGAOV works perfectly, but in the most unexpected way – for instance.

And placed into the wider context, the samples become a celebration of the genres they’re taken from. Pop Culture is great for this. The clips are all from pop songs, which tend to get a pretty bad rap. And sure, I don’t like a lot of the original source songs. But arranged together in the way they are, they become part of the best pop song ever. Likewise with TGAOV, we assume an overall perspective over the whole of video/film, and can see what is is we love about it: crazy characters, badass moments, excitement and fun.

Going back to Ultimate Showdown for a second. That was a celebration of a more specific culture: cult followings. Things like Monty Python and Big Trouble in Little China have dedicated cult followings and this video is a great showcase of them, but also for the concept of ‘cult’ in general. We watch it and feel great about Godzilla and Jackie Chan, we’re so lucky to have them! Screw the haters, this is a love letter to anyone who’s ever loved something out of the mainstream. Nerd culture can be beautiful too.

It should be pretty obvious then how this ties back into Mouth Sounds. You see, Mouth Sounds is another example of a cultural mashup. Here are a few of the things it samples:

  • Smashmouth – All Star
  • Modest Mouse – Float On
  • Homer Simpson
  • Austin Powers
  • Dave Matthews Band – Ants Marching
  • Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot  – Baby Got Back
  • Will Smith – Men in Black

And that’s just the first ten minutes.

At first glance, it might look like the focus here is less targeted than the above mashups. And sure, the range is wider but I’d argue that it’s because the target here isn’t meant to be a specific band of popular culture – but instead popular culture itself.

That’s why we get clips from music, film, television (one song ends with just the outros of various TV networks) and the internet (of course Chocolate Rain makes an appearance). The source of the samples matters just as much as the samples themselves. And the achieved effect is a greater appreciation of how all these things entertain us in their own ways.

I should also point out that it’s funny as hell. The mashup is playful and teasing in parts, such as playing the theme from Full House followed by an Alanis Morisette song, before segueing right back into Full House again – which, as flamboyant saxaphone fills go, is hilariously jarring in its own right. And the lack of an obvious theme makes this even more effective – you never know where the next sample is going to come from so it hits you even harder when it does.

All Star sung to the tune of Imagine by John Lennon? You couldn’t predict that, and it’s just the best thing ever. I feel bad even telling you that actually, like spoiling the ending of a good book, the surprise is so effective throughout.

Why the focus on All Star though? Well, I’ve written about Shrek in popular culture before, and I’ve  argued that Shrek has become a fundamental part of our cultural zeitgeist. I’ve even gone so far as to argue that All Star was the song of the decade it came out in. It seems that there’s an echo of this in Mouth Sounds. Most the samples do come from the 90s/early 00s (though not all) so it’d make sense for the song to be as prominent as it is, should my theory concerning Mouth Sounds as a cultural retrospective be valid.

All Star is just a great song too, as well. It seems to go with everything.

Mouth Sounds also has the element I enjoyed from TUSOUD of playing the game of trying to spot all the references. It rewards frequent replays and a keen attention to the detail of the songs. I spent ages trying to track down the original source of the Full House theme used (it’s like an instrumental version of one of the outros, from what I can tell), and had a great time doing so.

So in conclusion, Mouth Sounds is a fantastic achievement. The pure technical skill in location, arranging and mixing the samples alone is at least as impressive as anything done by The Avalanches, etc. Added onto that you’ve got the skill of making something that makes me laugh every single time I listen to it.

It’s also an important work of art in terms of making a statement. The statement it makes, as far as I can tell, is that our popular culture (specifically, western media in the late nineties and early noughties) may be crass, kitch and just plain dumb, but that’s great. It’s put us where we are today and we shouldn’t shy away from our cultural heritage.

Not when it can sound this good.