That Time Smash Mouth Warned Us About Climate Change In ‘All Star’
Smash Mouth are undoubtedly best remembered by music fans for their sunny 1999 hit "All Star." What many listeners might not recall, however, is that the tune's lyrics contain a deceivingly playful message about global warming. As it turns out, the songwriter made a point of including it.
The podcast How to Save a Planet examines that lyric in an Earth Day episode on Thursday (April 22). The show's hosts, journalist Alex Blumberg and scientist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, talk to former Smash Mouth member Greg Camp, the guitarist who wrote the song, about the hidden-in-plain-sight warning.
Before the full episode drops later today, and exclusively on Loudwire, listen to a clip from the show down toward the bottom of this post
Thursday's episode takes a look at a simple question: Is there a climate change anthem? How to Save a Planet ponders various popular songs about saving the world and tries to learn what makes an anthem stick and inspires people to take action. See a more detailed description of the show below.
In "All Star," among other clever musings spouted by lead vocalist Steve Harwell, the second verse brings the climate-concerned line that almost seems to have prophetic powers now:
"The ice we skate is getting pretty thin / The water's getting warm so you might as well swim / My world's on fire, how 'bout yours?"
The wording that has since become both a meme and a protest sign wasn't unintentional. In fact, Camp tells How to Save a Planet that he very specifically used the opportunity in the song to talk about the issue that holds major significance for the world.
"I felt, once we got onto our second album and I was writing 'All Star,' that I might want to slip something like that in there because I had a podium," the musician explains. "It was kind of my duty, and I think our duty as songwriters and musicians and artists and the creative people who have a lot of people listening, to at least mention it. Just to get awareness happening and to try to get people to be a part of the problem solving as opposed to part of the problem."
Listen to the rest of the How to Save a Planet episode by clicking here. The podcast also has a special Spotify Earth Day playlist, including "All Star" alongside tracks from Cattle Decapitation, Killing Joke, Paul McCartney and more. Check that out underneath the audio clip.
Greg Camp (ex-Smash Mouth) Talks to How to Save a Planet - April 22, 2021
How to Save a Planet's "Songs to Save the Planet to" Playlist
Smash Mouth, "All Star"
The current lineup of Smash Mouth may have different ideas about things these days, though. They controversially performed at the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally during the coronavirus pandemic.
How to Save a Planet Episode Description
Most major social movements have anthems, or at least popular protest songs — think ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,’ ‘This is America,’ etc. Such songs resonate and often unite people across the country. Yet despite the growing social movement around climate action, there doesn’t seem to be one song that stands out. In this episode, we ask, Is there a climate change anthem? Reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis scours the charts to find what’s out there and brings the best (and worst) contenders to hosts Alex and Ayana. In the process, we’ll learn what makes an anthem stick and inspire people to take action.