Thanks to the weird and wonderful inanities of the internet, you can now hear at least two cherished ’90s pop smash hits rejiggered to be all about cum. It all started when someone going by “Mammon Machine” tweeted in May that they wished the lyrics to Smash Mouth’s “All Star” were different.
The second verse of the song, which debuted in 1999 and hit No. 4 on the Billboard charts with its Jock-Jams-ready anthemic appeal, originally goes, “Well the years start coming and they don’t stop coming/ Fed to the rules, I hit the ground running.” Mammon Machine had a better idea:
Twitter user Gayest Dog stepped in with an assist, linking to someone who did it one better on Tumblr: “Well the years start coming and they don’t stop coming/ Fed to the rules, I hit the ground coming/ Didn’t make sense not to live for come, your brain gets smart but your head gets come.”
Jill Katze, a self-taught audio engineer in her late 20s who lives in Seattle, saw the exchange and was very amused. “I could hear it clearly in my head, and it bounced around in there for a few hours before I realized I had the separated vocals and instrumental tracks for ‘All Star’ sitting around somewhere from a few years before,” she told me via email. “I’d made a quick mashup of ‘All Star’ and ‘Emerald Hill Zone’ from Sonic the Hedgehog, after Neil Cicierega’s Mouth Sounds inspired me to dabble in shitpost mashups. I decided it was a thing I wanted to exist in real life, so I fired up Adobe Audition and got to chopping.”
The result is Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” except now it’s called “Cum Star.” Everywhere “cum” makes intuitive lyrical sense, it appears.
Here’s how she did it: Katze isolated an instance of the singer singing the word “come,” then replaced the desired words with it, tuning “cum” to match the original vocal, then syncing the vocal track back up with the rest of the song, also keeping in mind to make “cum” fit in rhythmically. The trick here is it requires having access to the isolated vocal stem, something that isn’t easy to, ahem, come by. (People might hack play-along video games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero for these stems and trade them online, or DJs or people who work in the music industry who have access may circulate them, too.)
The splice is an art, though, not a science. Katze has to keep tense and grammar straight. “This is the majority of the joke, and striking the right balance is important,” she said. “I can’t replace everything with ‘cum,’ but also I need to replace enough things so that there aren’t just long chunks of the original song.”
The redo grabbed over 86,000 plays on SoundCloud, joining the ranks of a subculture of silly swapped songs where a thing is replaced with another thing to comical effect. There’s “Fatlip” by Sum 41, except every time they say the word “don’t” in the song, the song speeds up. Or the song “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies, where all of the instruments are replaced with the phrase “It’s Been.” (You kinda just have to listen.) Or the song “All Star” by Smash Mouth, but the entire song, maddeningly, stays entirely in “C,” withholding the entire payoff of a perked-up chorus. (“Holy fuck this is torture,” a listener comments in response.)
These Frankenstein creations are sometimes called shitposts, shitpost mashups, or SoundClowns; many are hosted on the subreddit SoundClown. And while they all inspire a kind of prankish amusement — a shitpost mashup of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” with all palms is particularly idiotic, and therefore, great — “Cum Star” really takes the juvenile cake, a perfectly low-hanging fruit example of collage culture on blast.
What used to be lyrical directives in the original to launch your hyperwad into the star space of personal excellence — “You’ll never know if you don’t go / You’ll never shine if you don’t glow” — are now rendered gleefully dirty. “You’ll never know if you don’t cum / You’ll never shine if you don’t cum,” it now goes, and the chorus completes the circle jerk: “Hey now, you’re a cum star get your game on go cum/ Hey now you’re a rock star, get the cum on, get paid. All that glitters is cum / Only shooting stars break the mold.”
“I did end up with some regrets of missed opportunities here,” Katze said. “Multiple people pointed out that ‘only shooting cum breaks the mold’ would have been a good edit, but it didn’t occur to me at the time because that would have involved changing ‘break’ to ‘breaks’ to make the grammar work, and I was only looking for places where it worked as an exact drop-in replacement.”
Katze said “Cum Star” earned her a little bit of attention Tumblr, but it was SoundCloud where it really took off. “I’m honestly not sure what happened that caused it to blow up, but within a couple weeks it had over 25,000 listens and dozens of comments.”
That warm response led her to decide to give the process another shot. “I tried to think of other ’90s songs where this could work and quickly arrived at Blink 182’s ‘All The Small Things,’ which just so happened to be the perfect candidate for it. I was able to make the joke format work perfectly with it.”
The original song’s lyrics are an ode to a girlfriend who would later become singer Tom DeLonge’s wife, who documents her little gestures of affection while putting up with his rock-star life of always playing shows and coming home late, he told Rolling Stone in 2000. “All the / small things / True care / Truth brings / Always / I know / You’ll be / At my show / Watching / Waiting / Commiserating,” the original goes.
Then there’s Katze’s version, all cummed up, perverting that sweetness into silliness.
“All the cum things / True care / Cum brings / Always I know / You’ll cum at my show / Watching / Waiting / Cumming / Cumming.” The money shot is that instead of the traditional Ramones-inspired chorus of “Na na / Na na / Na na / Na na / Na na,” it’s “Cum cum / Cum cum / Cum cum / Cum cum / Cum cum.”
That post has close to 30,000 plays on SoundCloud, and copious praise in the comments. “This is literally my favorite track on all of SoundCloud,” someone writes. “Hey please make more cum things,” someone else suggests.
But Katze — who never considered herself a connoisseuse of cum jokes in the first place, even if she appreciates them — thinks her cum-song days are probably numbered. “Unfortunately, every time over the last six months I’ve tried to recapture the magic, I just haven’t been able to,” she wrote. “In order to do this sort of mutation to a song, it has to not only contain a moment of speech that sounds like ‘cum,’ but it has to have the right sort of vocabulary and sentence structure for that to work as a drop-in in enough places to really be funny. Plus, it has to be a song where people can be reasonably expected to understand the lyrics in the first place, and I have to be able to find the stems for it online, which has become harder as the site where I used to get them from no longer exists since it was extremely legally dubious. I really wanted to do it to ‘Tom’s Diner’ by Suzanne Vega but I could never find the suitable audio files to get me there, sadly.”
The world may just have to settle for only two cum songs, at least until some other internet hero gifts us another. “I dunno if I’m gonna do any more of these because I don’t know if I want to be known as ‘that girl who takes 90s pop songs and makes them about cum,’ ” she wrote on the SoundCloud track to her followers. “But uh, for now, here’s this monstrosity.”