“All Star” by Smash Mouth is the musical equivalent of the tardigrade. Like the eight-legged, water-dwelling micro-animal of documentary fame, this 1999 song can survive in seemingly any environment, including the airless vacuum of space. Neither extreme cold nor extreme heat can kill it. This song can go decades without food or water and still be able to forage and reproduce like a champ. Mouth Sounds by Neil Cicierega was practically an album-length dissertation on the astonishing durability of “All Star.” In his mashups, Cicierega puckishly paired the ubiquitous Smash Mouth song with everything from “Imagine” by John Lennon to the Full House theme, and even that couldn’t kill it. The indestructible nature of “All Star” is further proven by “Winter Star,” an incongruous new mashup by Star Man that joins the raspy lead vocals of Smash Mouth’s Steve Harwell with the sensitive piano stylings of Tori Amos. Even here, the frat-boy loutishness of “All Star” shines through.
Amos helped to usher in the alternative rock scene of the 1990s with the intimate, confessional compositions on her debut solo album Little Earthquakes. In this mashup, Star Man has essentially taken one of that album’s loveliest, most memorable songs, the backwards-looking “Winter,” and gleefully spray-painted graffiti all over it. As one commenter on Star Man’s SoundCloud page laments, “I am just so goddamn angry that this works so goddamn well together.” And so it does. Amos’ crystal-clear mezzo-soprano voice is nowhere in evidence here. Likewise, the deeply personal lyrics about the lessons Amos learned from her father have been utterly erased. They’ve been replaced by the proudly meaningless, oafish lyrics of “All Star.” Only in the second verse do these two compositions ever overlap thematically. “It’s a cool place,” Harwell sings, “and they say it gets colder. You’re bundled up now but wait ’til you get older.” That’s at least within spitting distance of what “Winter” was originally about.