Mouth Mash - Solution

Written by Cameron Montag. Web implementation by Ivan Wang.


This puzzle contains 24 audio files, each 30 seconds long. 12 of them are snippets from popular songs, and the other 12 are edited vocals from Smash Mouth’s “All Star”. Each All Star vocal track corresponds to one of the songs, and will line up when the two audio files are played together. This can be done by ear, or by using the key and tempo of each track. Other features can also be helpful, like Mambo No. 5’s swing rhythm or Orinoco Flow’s key change. Additionally, each of these pairings is given a score:

All Star VocalsSongSong NameScore
1IMen in Black5/28
2ABaby Got Back2/3
3EHarder, Better, Faster, Stronger7/9
4HMambo No. 51/13
5LYou Oughta Know2/6
7CBullet With Butterfly Wings6/24
8DChocolate Rain8/24
9GImma Be4/11
10KThe Power of Love3/12
11BBillie Jean8/19
12JOrinoco Flow1/10

The next step is to realize the connection between these twelve songs; namely, that they all appear in Neil Cicierega’s mashup album Mouth Sounds. This can be found by Googling the songs together, and is hinted at by the puzzle’s title and flavortext. Each of the songs corresponds to one track from the album, and each score’s possible total is equal to the length of that track’s title. We can use the scores to index into these titles:

Song NameMouth Sounds TrackScoreExtracted Letter
Men in BlackVivid Memories Turn To Fantasies5/28D
Baby Got BackD'oh2/3O
Harder, Better, Faster, StrongerDaft Mouth7/9U
Mambo No. 5Bega Interlude1/13B
You Oughta KnowAlanis2/6L
ImagineImagine All Star People7/20E
Bullet With Butterfly WingsMullet With Butterfly Wings6/24T
Chocolate RainLike Tears in Chocolate Rain8/24R
Imma BeImma Let It Be4/11A
The Power of LoveNo Credit Card3/12C
Billie JeanBills Like Jean Spirit8/19K
Orinoco FlowSmooth Flow1/10S

This gives us the solution DOUBLE TRACKS.

Author's Notes

I’d had the idea of a puzzle which involved making mashups for a long time, and I’m very pleased with how this turned out. I was extremely careful to make sure that the audio files' metadata couldn’t be used to cheese the puzzle, removing tempo data and changing the date created of each file to May 4, 1999 (the release date of All Star, and the same creation date of every track in Mouth Sounds.)

Getting the tempos to line up exactly was surprisingly tricky for a few of these songs, since many of them have non-integer BPM values (Men In Black is 107.6, Harder Better Faster Stronger is 123.4, You Oughta Know is 105.3, etc). Imagine and Bullet With Butterfly Wings were particularly difficult, since their tempos change slightly over the course of the song, so I had to stretch different parts of the All Star vocals to get it to fit perfectly. Overall, I’m really happy with how the finished mashups sound; my personal favorites are Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger and Billie Jean. I hope you had fun making them too!

Huge thanks to Patrick, Liam, and Ivan for their help in getting this puzzle written, and especially for Ivan’s fantastic audio implementation on the website.