At the turn of the millennium, Smash Mouth’s “All Star” seemed inescapable. Since then, it’s become a cultural punching bag, and few rise to its defense.
But among those few are the staff members of WMUC, University of Maryland’s student-run freeform radio station. On Feb. 2, the station commemorated its love of the hit song with an official “All Star” Day, during which the station broadcast the California band’s ode to self-confidence — plus covers and alternate versions — for 24 straight hours.
WMUC DJ Dan Singer claims responsibility for the idea.
“‘All Star’ Day loosely has its roots in a WMUC inside joke, known by some as ‘Shrekwave,'” Singer writes in an email. “We would play ‘All Star,’ ‘Accidentally in Love‘ and other classics from the Shrek movies at radio station parties and drunkenly sing along to them.”
But Singer insists his appreciation for Smash Mouth is sincere. “‘All Star’ was one of my favorite songs as a kid,” he writes. “By the time I got a Walkman, my favorite band was Smash Mouth, and my CD collection initially consisted of mixes of Smash Mouth songs I downloaded off of Morpheus.”
WMUC DJs worked hard to prevent the monotony of an all-day “All Star” rock block. “Some DJs turned to YouTube and elsewhere for Mario Paint covers, live versions and other eccentric renditions,” Singer writes. “I played an Alvin and the Chipmunks pitch-shifted version of ‘All Star’ several times in a row to cope with the madness.”
The station also requested and received a dozen “All Star” covers for the big event. Locals including Aphids, Knuckleberry Finn and Singer’s comedy group Football Is A Sport submitted takes that ranged from the heartfelt to the absurd. WMUC played the covers throughout the day, and put them up for download on Bandcamp.
Biggest of all, though, the station got Smash Mouth on board. Bassist Paul DeLisle gave a 30-minute on-air interview (hear it below) and the band recorded WMUC radio drops.
Singer calls “All Star” Day a “major success,” but he concedes it posed a challenge for the station’s staff.
“I probably listened to ‘All Star’ hundreds of times that day,” Singer writes, “and by the time I began my DJ block at 4 p.m., I felt like I was in some sort of druggy trance where the years started coming and they didn’t stop coming.”
Singer can’t be sure everyone who tuned in loved what they heard, either.
“Like me, I’m sure many listeners and station members needed an ‘All Star’ detox once Tuesday came around,” he writes.