"Mouth Sounds" is an hour-long mashup / performance art tribute to "All-Star"

After the recent death of Steve Harwell from Smash Mouth, I was reminded of one of my favorite works of bizarre art from recent years: Mouth Sounds, an hour-ish long musical album by internet artist Neil Cicierega that's sort of an hour-long stand-up comedy piece that functions as a work of performance art to deconstruct the concept of "mashups" in an impressively post-postmodern way.

Also, it's fucking hilarious. And the songs are awesome. I used to use this as my go-to party starter. Any time someone let me near the aux cable or the shared group Bluetooth speaker, it was Mouth Sounds time. At first, this would get some annoying groans — "Ugh, Thom is playing 'All-Star' again." But the brilliance of Mouth Sounds is how it lulls you into a false sense of comfort. Some of the mashups are genuinely great, to the point that, if you don't really pay attention, they could just sound like a classic GirlTalk song. This makes it a truly great Trojan Horse for parties, as it your guests might be sincerely bobbing their heads along before realizing — wait, did they just replace the riff from that song with an auto-tuned version Homer Simpson's "D'oh!"?

And yes, "All-Star" rears its head as a sort of recurring motif throughout the set (as well as its equally brilliant sequels, Mouth Silence, Mouth Moods, and Mouth Dreams). But it's a testament to Cicierega's skill as both a mashup artist and a comedian that he always finds new ways to surprise you with it, even when you're sort-of expecting it. He also knows when to back off, and give you 20 minutes of Smash Mouth-free air time … so that the "All-Star" drop hits even harder upon its return. Is it annoying? Hell yeah. But Mouth Sounds elevates that trolling to a level of truly provocative art.

Just…give it a try. You'll understand. Or if I can't convince you, this Vox culture article explains the allure of it much more succinctly:

All three of Cicierega's albums throw your favorite '90s songs into a postmodern blender — with a particular fixation on Smash Mouth's "All Star." The best mashups unite unlikely songs, lyrics, or musical ideas and turn them into something simultaneously familiar and new, and Cicierega's are nearly always weird and/or wonderful enough to delight.

Each of Cicierega's three albums emphasizes the enduring influence of the 1990s in modern pop culture. The artist, who has spent most of his life creating stuff on the internet, also makes digital music that's about digital culture itself, and all of his work prompts questions like: What does it mean to take two songs with totally different meanings and fuse them into something else? What does the resulting mashup say about its components, and what does it say about us as listeners?

If nothing else, "T.I.M.E." from Mouth Moods perfectly captures the existential comedy horror of it all.