2001 was when everything changed in the music industry. Seriously, fucking everything. It’s when shit got incredibly, incredibly bad. If I had a time machine, I would go back in time and assassinate every single musician, because that’s how bad 2001 was. 2001 represented technology mass invading the population, with the integration of P2P software, the iPod and Tiesto releasing his first album (thats another apocalyptic essay altogether). From this point forward, society engaged in a technological war with itself and music, demanding brighter, shinier and more colourful things every year. They were compensated with music more plastic and fake than Katy Perry’s boobs. In a sense, the music-buying public got what it wanted-stuff. They didn’t care what they got, so long as they were told it was good. And they fucking believed that! How else could Linkin Park’s album ‘Hybrid Theory’ have been the best selling album of the year? The demographic of 14 year old angsty boys isn’t enough to push a shitty album of that magnitude into history, so someone else must have been buying it. But most importantly, because of this terrific shift in people not giving a shit, because of the bright new millennial dawn that was surfacing, for the first time ever, literal pieces of shit were allowed to record music and sell millions of albums. Case in point: Smash Mouth.
Smash Mouth have to be one of the dumbest successful bands in history. And unlike their main competitor Insane Clown Posse, Smash Mouth were wholeheartedly accepted by the mainstream music industry. They’re music was syndicated to movies (albeit terrible ones like ‘Mystery Men’) and they got their videos played on MTV. But the how remains a stupefying question. Let’s examine Smash Mouth:
-They’re name is Smash Mouth. That sounds like someone got punched by oral herpes. Which isn’t too far off a description of the band.
-Led by Steve Harwell. The dude is basically Guy Fieri with an auto-tuned voice. He wanted to be in a pop-rock band. WHO THE FUCK WANTS TO BE IN A POP-ROCK BAND? So, he’s basically Satan with a soul patch.
-They’re music is a combination of all the terrible major label ‘grunge’ bands that sounded like the Backstreet Boys had cheesy guitars dropped on their heads from the height of the Empire State Building. Think of a music atrocity in which Lit, Buckcherry and Everclear had gotten their goatee’d faces sprayed with the jizz of Aqua, and you’ve got something like Smash Mouth.
-They’re lyrics entirely repurpose the word ‘simpleton’. From ‘All Star’: “She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb/In the shape of an “L” on her forehead”. Are you calling your female fanbase idiotic losers? I mean, they are, but it’s not nice to call them that in your biggest song. It’s kind of a testament to the fanbase of Smash Mouth that there’s never been any annoyance about those profound lyrics.
-Their entire presence is the equivalent to seeing that kid from primary school again as an adult, who annoyed the fuck out of you and reminds you within 5 seconds exactly why. Smash Mouth were frat boys who liked Dave Mathews Band a bit too much, and weren’t afraid to show it. And we all suffered because of it.
There are little to no redeeming factors to the Smash Mouth juggernaut. But that’s not the point of this pretty meaningless essay. It’s to point out how Smash Mouth represented the pinnacle of music industry excess and success. Smash Mouth have currently sold more than 10 million albums worldwide. How can that be? How can a band that sucks so much, and have such undesirability have sold so much petty garbage to willing victims. Where were we at as a society in 2001, in which Smash Mouth sold 10 million fucking albums? I would rather suck up the love juice from the carcass of a skunk than buy a Smash Mouth album.
But, Smash Mouth did succeed, and there is nothing we can do but sit in jaw-dropped amazement at their success. I mean, the music industry now is a pile of circle-jerking mixture of indie rock knock offs that appeal to teenagers that don’t know any better, and buxom pieces of two-month old celebrity, so the fact that a fat slob with a soul patch and frosted tips who liked to rip off The Monkees and wear polo shirts ‘made it’ in a conventional sense should be applauded. Maybe it was all a big joke, and Steve Harwell is the ultimate satirist? Maybe he can’t hear anything from his earlobes being dipped in gold. Maybe, when some kit with gelled hair at the end of Rat Race loses his shit that Smash Mouth are performing, we should applaud at Smash Mouth’s underdog success. Maybe, when that girl that Steve Halwell has been creepily pursuing until the end of the ‘I’m A Believer’ video (and she lacklustrely recites ‘Aren’t you Steve from Smash Mouth?’, a question no one has ever asked) asks for his number (?) and says she loves him (??) we should pray for their long term health and happiness as a power couple. And maybe, when we see the fact that Smash Mouth are still recording and touring in 2014, we should golf-clap their continued success as a band in this cutthroat, cynical industry.
Or we can curse Smash Mouth for existing and go back to listening to King Tears Mortuary. And wonder what the fuck people were thinking about in 2001.