The year is 1999. Y2K mania is at a fever pitch as people terrifyingly wait for the computers to take over (I was eight so I don’t actually know why people were scared for Y2K but I imagine it was something along the lines of the plot of Terminator 2 maybe?). You’re walking to the movie theater to go see Star Wars Episode 1, which is for sure going to be the coolest movie of all time because how could they possibly screw it up? Have you seen how badass Darth Maul looks? Anyway, you’re accompanied on your walk by your handy portable CD player. What are you listening to? Why, smash hit “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, of course. Like most of the country, it’s your favorite song and you can’t sop listening to it. All of a sudden, you trip and fall down through a manhole into the sewers underground. You’re trapped there, and you don’t have a cell phone because I don’t think they were invented yet. So you live down there. For 17 years you survive (basically becoming a Ninja Turtle except you’re not actually a turtle and you’re definitely not a ninja). Finally, in the year 2016, you’re rescued and brought back to the normal world. You acclimate yourself to a world that has gone through insane changes since you were last there. You boot up the Internet since Y2K was apparently a bust, and take a look around. Then you see it. “Smooth”. Everywhere. Memes based on the song. Shirts that simply have the song title on it. Kids who were barely even born when the song was released referencing it. What’s going on?
Now, you’re probably wondering “Nick, why did you make me read an entire paragraph of that dumb story? An introduction is supposed to draw the reader in, not make them actively hate you as they trudge through your weird 300-word fan fiction about the song “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty.”
The answer is simply to set the stage. Isn’t it weird that a track that came out 17 years ago has recently become the internet’s theme song? Why is this happening? Is it a joke? Or is it truly the greatest song ever recorded?
(Also that was kind of an elevator pitch for the screenplay I’m working on. I don’t have a ton of the details ironed out yet but I will say that ideally Vin Diesel would be playing several different roles a la Eddie Murphy in Norbit.
Anyway, here are five reasons why “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty is the greatest song of all time.
1) Matchbox Twenty Is Kind Of A Rad Band
Growing up in Houston there was a radio station called Mix 96.5 that specialized in playing your favorites from the 80s, 90s and today. It was basically the soundtrack to the suburbs so it was accordingly on every time I got into the car. Sometimes they played good songs. Other times they played Guns N’ Roses. But one thing they played a lot of was Matchbox Twenty. I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of the band, but I’ve heard a bunch of their big singles and I’m willing to step out on a limb here and call them kind of rad. “Push” and “3 A.M.” are certified bangers and the riff on “Real World” is killer (Wikipedia calls the band “post-grunge” several times and if that’s the case I’m willing to put any of their singles over anything Nirvana ever made. Don’t @ me). So yeah, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty carries a lot of star power with him, something every 90s kid knows.
2) Rob Thomas’s Wardrobe In The Music Video
Simply put, dude is killing it. In half the video he’s wearing a button up shirt with a dragon down the side of it, a wardrobe choice normally reserved for nerds who get shoved in trash cans for playing Yu-Gi-Oh at lunch, but here an iconic rock star look.
For the other half he’s inexplicably wearing a cowboy hat. I have no idea why. There’s nothing western about this song or the video. They’re performing in the middle of the street in a city. But does Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty care about this?
3) Carlos Santana Is The Coolest Human To Have Ever Walked This Earth
Carlos Santana is a true legend. Arguably one of the greatest Mexican-American musicians of all time (Selena is number one. Forever. No questions asked. Anything for Selenas.). He has been a groundbreaking musician since the 60’s, so for him to carry his career all the way to collaborating with pop stars at the turn of the millennium is extraordinarily impressive.
And just look at this guy.
You will never be as cool as Carlos Santana. Never in a million years. Carlos Santana is the cool tio you always wished you had.
4) The Lyrics Are Pure Poetry In Motion
First off, “Man, it’s a hot one” is an iconic opening line, up there with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” from Charles Dickens and “I came in with my dick in my hand” from Mystikal.
Then it moves on to “If you say this life ain’t good enough/I would give my world to lift you up”. Beautiful. What an upstanding gentleman Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty is.
The most memorable line, however, comes with “It’s just like the ocean under the moon/It’s the same as the emotion that I get from you”. The most impressive lines are the ones that get the listener thinking and asking questions. Like “What does this even mean?” or “What emotion should I be getting from looking at the ocean under the moon?’ or “Has he ever seen the ocean under the moon? I feel like it just looks like an ocean except it’s dark and also oh yeah there’s the moon”. Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty is modern day philosopher.
5) The Song Unironically, Genuinely Rips
Look, I know it’s hard to parse through the layers upon layers of irony that make up internet culture. What do people like versus what do people like to say they like because it makes other people laugh. I’d say “Smooth”’s position in 2016 is about 50% in each of those camps. The internet is weird. It takes things and morphs them around into something else entirely. I know I’ve spent 1,000 words cracking jokes about the song, but don’t get it twisted: “Smooth” is a truly fantastic song. It’s great. It’s insanely catchy. It has some gnarly solos from a guitar legend. Hell, don’t just listen to me, look at it’s chart performances. It was the number two Hot 100 hit OF THE 20TH CENTURY. Billboard ranked it as the second most successful song OF ALL TIME. So no, it’s not an exaggeration. I’m making a ruling. “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty is the greatest song ever recorded in the history of mankind.
It is decided.