Last week I wrote an article about a video I found on the internet. Which isn't how most great stories begin, I'll give you that, but this one is different. This one is about a man called Jon Sudano.
Jon Sudano, for those who aren't familiar, is the guy who went viral in a matter of days for singing Smash Mouth's "All Star" over a litany of modern hits. It began innocuously enough with John Lennon's "Imagine", went on to tackle Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life", and has since stepped to such cultural totems as "Hello" by Adele and "Y.M.C.A" by The Village People. Each of them somehow more profound, more spiritual, than the next. Soon, his name began to pop up everywhere. Everyone from influential music site Noisey.com to The Lad Bible had dubbed him, in all seriousness, the saviour of 2016. People have even hinted that they may start a religion based on his likeness.
Whether it's his voice – comforting in its pitch and inspirational in its imperfection – the fact that every single video is filmed from a dog's eye view, or that people just really fucking love hearing the lyrics to "All Star" by Smash Mouth recontextualised as epic, melodramatic ballads, who can say. But one thing's for sure: this year has been awful and divisive and full of hate and, somehow, millions of content consumers across the world have been brought together in commonality and joy by the unlikely force that is Jon Sudano's YouTube account.
But who, really, is Jon Sudano? Does he enjoy that we have unanimously dubbed him the Spiderman of vlogging? Fame can be cruel and fickle – especially when it's achieved in a weekend. Has anyone stopped to ask "Hey, Jon Sudano, how are you doing?"
Since his videos have lifted our spirits so, we did just that. We contacted Jon Sudano and, humble artist that he is, he was kind enough to sit down and chat to us about his work, the beast of viral fame and, of course, the 90s American rock band from San Jose, California: Smash Mouth.
Noisey: Hi Jon. Thanks for taking the time. Tell me, how did you come up with this amazing concept?
Thanks for interviewing with me! I actually got the idea from a karaoke party I attended a pretty long time ago. We thought it'd be funny to do "All Star" by Smash Mouth, and eventually that evolved into singing the lyrics of that song over other ones as well. It actually worked for a shocking amount of them.
What makes "All Star" by Smash Mouth such a good tune?
It's fun, simple, doesn't take much skill to sing and is enjoyed by many. It's an iconic 90's staple hit and remains relevant through many cinematic classics like Shrek and Mystery Men. I like the hip-hop breakdown in the middle.
I mean, it really does seem to fit with almost any song. How do you decide what it goes with? Is there a specific process involved? Is it like pairing fine wines with different meals?
It's exactly like pairing fine wines with different meals. Actually I like to think of it like which colour fanny pack I should wear today. The process of finding songs isn't necessarily hard if you know what to look for. Chord phrasing, structural similarities, verse/bridge/chorus/etc. Once you find a song that fits, it's like true love's first kiss.
Tell me a bit about your relationship with Smash Mouth.
Smash Mouth have stuck with me through both the best and the worst of times. Growing up they were on MTV and every major station every 10 minutes so it was hard to avoid them. I regret to say I have never seen them live, but with the events that have transpired over the last few weeks I hope to attend a show very soon.
How did you decide on the camera angle? It's iconic.
Every video is recorded with my iPhone 6. There is no editing whatsoever. The angle was a result of combined laziness and hastily uploading a video to my Facebook so my friends could watch. Now, when I watch the videos back, I can't help but feel like the neckbeard has been the real star of the show all along.
Your YouTube channel is barely a week old and you have almost 90,000 subscribers, including me. That's pretty amazing.
It has been pretty surreal, to be totally honest. I've tried multiple times and spent countless dollars to achieve fame through music, whether it be playing drums in my old band or networking with other touring bands or otherwise. If you told me a year ago I'd become a famous YouTuber using the song "All Star" I would have laughed in your face.
I've heard fame can come with a lot of pressure. Is it lonely at the top?
Sometimes when I think about how fast my channel and popularity is growing I get a little sick to my stomach, but it soon passes after I realise that memes are memes and they generally wane over time so it's possible that it won't be like this forever. I think it's important to stay grounded and not let the memes give me a big head.
What about your fans, how have they been treating you?
The response has been pretty overwhelming. Whether it's them spamming my videos with loving positive comments, sending me Snapchats of them singing along to my covers or retweeting images of my blown up face, I'm extremely appreciative and I love my followers dearly.
Someone in your comments said they wanted to start a religion based on you. What would that look like?
Hopefully it'll entail treating each other with respect, upvoting each other's memes and buying each other Mexican food.
What would your religious principles be?
Trolling in the comments section is punishable by death. Or at least a 6 day ban followed by limited posting privileges.
Do you ever worry that memes might get out of hand. That memes will not just infiltrate but completely take over politics and then the world and, ultimately, lead to the demise of humanity?
Let's just say that watching Hillary Clinton dabbing on live television distorted my face into the hardest cringe imaginable. I still have not recovered.
Ok. Back to the music. When the years start coming, do they ever stop coming?
Well eventually the universe will diminish to a state of no thermodynamic free energy, it will cool to an equilibrium that can no longer sustain the processes necessary for entropy and computation to occur, and will result in the ultimate heat death of the universe. So yes, the years will eventually stop coming.
Which, in your opinion, is the sharpest tool in the shed?
The sharpest tools in the shed are the ones who take risks following their dreams doing what they love or are passionate about. Unless those dreams include invading Poland
Is all that glitters actually gold?
No, all that glitters will actually be spending the rest of the day brushing that crap off of you and still somehow finding little bits of it on your clothes and skin until you die.
Out of the bunch, the Evanescence one has really taken off. Why do you think people have connected with that one the most?
Once two hits from the late 90's/early 2000's collided together, it triggered something in everyone's brains reminding them just how cool shockproof CD players and JNCO jeans were.
Amid all the "All Star" mashups there's a video of you straight up singing the Neon Genesis Evangelion theme. How come that one gets special treatment, huh?
Because it's my favourite anime. That's about it. I wish there was a better explanation, but I've literally seen that series so many times that the theme song is ingrained in my memory forever.
Word. What happens when you eventually run out of songs that go with "All Star"?
As long as pop stars continue to rise to fame and their ghostwriters continue to squeeze out 4 chord bangers to be played on the radio and the audience beaten over the head with it for hours on end, as far as I'm concerned that will never happen.
Are you currently taking requests?
For every request I receive, I offer a counter-request to stop requesting songs that don't work with "All Star".
Have Smash Mouth The Band been in touch with you yet?
No and I pray that they aren't taking all of this meme stuff to heart and are managing to take it with a grain of salt.
Are there any words you would like to extend to Smash Mouth?
I appreciate the fact that you guys continue to play shows and embrace the culture surrounding your 90s fame. I can't imagine what it's like going online to find your life's work being parodied countless times, but I do hope you find enough humour in it to laugh at yourself from time to time.
What is your favourite Smash Mouth song?
Their piano arrangement "Clair de Lune" in D-flat major. That was Smash Mouth, right?
Pretty sure, yeah. Thanks Jon!
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Find more of Jon's masterpieces on his YouTube channel.