Featuring the propulsive punk bass playing of Mark Hoppus, ‘All The Small Things’ became Blink-182’s biggest selling single of their career, reaching number one on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart and peaking at number two in the UK charts. The second song released from 1999’s Enema Of The State, ‘All The Small Things’ was written by the band with the intention of creating something ‘catchy and basic’ to gain radio airplay.
The song definitely ticked both of these boxes, bringing the band into the consciousness of the mainstream pop market and reaching the Top 20 in twelve countries. The video also got the band plenty of press; it featured the band parodying various manufactured pop acts like ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
Bassist Mark Hoppus keeps things simple throughout. Very simple. This is pop-punk 101; straight 8th-notes following the root movement of a three-chord sequence. The song’s basic chord progression and the ‘na-na-na’ vocals towards the end of the track are intended as a nod towards (singer/guitarist) Tom DeLonge’s favourite bands, The Ramones.
The tempo isn’t too fast, meaning that most players should be able to get around the song without breaking too much of a sweat. Tonally speaking, a pick is preferable to fingers in order to get the requisite ‘bite’ from the bass. If you’re new to pick playing, then ‘All The Small Things’ is a good training ground for developing a consistent sound; there’s not much work for the fretting hand to do, so the majority of your attention can be devoted to the picking hand.
Whilst you can opt for the more ‘punk’ strategy of playing everything with downstrokes, which gives the part more attitude, I find that this makes my arm feel like it’s going to fall off after 30 seconds; my preference is to use alternate picking throughout. The aim when using a pick in this way is to try to make your upstrokes and downstrokes sound identical.