Jordan Maron is a 26-year-old pop star forged in the digital fires of the 21st century. He’s impeccably groomed. He’s totally ripped. He drives a half-a-million dollar vehicle (a Ford GT) and lives in an infinity pool-equipped mansion in the Hollywood Hills. In other words, he’s the standard social media influencer, magnified. Except you probably haven’t heard of him. Don’t laugh, but he colloquially goes by the name CaptainSparklez (yes, with a z).
CaptainSparklez rocketed to fame thanks to a video game called Minecraft—and the YouTube videos he makes based on it. (He’s not alone. Daniel Middleton, another stratospherically famous Minecraft YouTuber, raked in $16.5 million last year alone, and currently has a New York Times bestseller, a sold-out world tour, and more followers than every late-night host on TV.) Maron, however, has differentiated himself from the standard tips-and-tricks video game videos by tacking to a novel format: He makes music videos.
And they’ve taken the Internet by storm.
For instance: CaptainSparklez has more views on YouTube than chart-topping pop stars The Chainsmokers, Demi Lovato, Eminem, Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, Selena Gomez, and Sia—combined. And just last year, he collaborated with EDM maestros Seven Lions, Illenium, and Said the Sky, along with consummate electronica vocalist HALIENE, to produce the song, “Rush Over Me,” an equal parts rousing, somber, shivers-inducing ballad that shakes the soul. (The accompanying video tells the story of a dog who sacrifices himself to save his master from all-but-certain doom. To call it emotionally manipulative wouldn’t be unfair—or incorrect.)
Other than that, CaptainSparklez’s typical musical fare tends toward poppy and tonally upbeat—all major keys and bright synths, typically set to heart-pumping BPMs. It’s the type of music that’ll give you an instant energy boost. CaptainSparklez also dabbles in derivative work—generally parodic pop covers, wherein he takes an existing song and overlays it with new, Minecraft-themed vocals (and sets the whole thing to a non-derivative Minecraft-themed video, of course). Despite whatever madness exists in Maron’s artistic method, it works: All told, he’s garnered nearly 3.2 billion views.
Still, Maron doesn’t tour. He doesn’t have a Spotify presence. And he certainly doesn’t have a big four record deal. He’s the spitting image of how a musician can become world-famous these days without following any of the established tracks for artists from decades past. (He still follows the tried-and-true merch method, however. You can buy everything from t-shirts and hoodies to iPhone cases and coffee mugs on his branded store.)
The only way Maron puts CaptainSparklez into the world is through YouTube. But seeing as, since starting out in July 2010, he’s produced hundreds of videos, stepping into the CaptainSparklez oeuvre can be daunting. So, if you’re interested in getting your toes—or rather, your ears—wet, here’s the place to start. Below, we’ve gathered his greatest hits; consider this the setlist for his tour—that is, if he ever schedules one.
Views: 169 million
CaptainSparklez’s most popular jam is pure Minecraft fare (with lyrics like “MLG pro, that diamond sword/come at me, bro, I got it forged”) and features a catchy rap interlude.
2. “Take Back the Night”
Views: 125 million
The second part of CaptainSparklez’s narrative “Fallen Kingdom” series features blackbelt-level acrobatics and an Excalibur-themed adventure.
3. “Fallen Kingdom”
Views: 112 million
The first part (and the namesake) of the “Fallen Kingdom” series is a Minecraft-themed parody of Coldplay’s Grammy-winning “Viva la Vida.”
Views: 99 million
This explosively popular track is a parody of Taio Cruz’s Billboard-topping “Dynamite.”
5. “Find the Pieces”
Views: 32 million
The third part of “Fallen Kingdom” features pleasant acoustic strumming and tropical motifs. Good luck keeping the peppy chorus out of your head.
Views: 20 million
The finale to “Fallen Kingdom” starts with an epic piano lick worthy of a Christopher Nolan film before the bass drops into a fist-pumping club anthem. (Though it’s markedly less popular than some of his other tunes, for our money, this is the best CaptainSparklez composition out there.)
7. “Hey CaptainSparklez”
Views: 17 million
Maron enjoyed this fan-made video—an upbeat homage to CaptainSparklez peppered with references to his popular songs, like the “Fallen Kingdom” tetralogy—enough to put it on his own channel.
8. “Minecraft Style”
Views: 16 million
“Diggin’ Minecraft style!” (Yes, this is a parody of “Gangnam Style,” by K-pop legend PSY.)
9. “Revenge: Remixed by ‘2AM’ “
Views: 8.7 million
2AM’s take on “Revenge” includes a melodic, bass-driven dub line and off-kilter staccato beats.
10. “Harlem Shake v. Minecraft”
Views: 8.2 million
Based on the content of this brief video, Maron isn’t fond of the “Harlem Shake.”
11. “Rush Over Me”
Views: 2.4 million
Here’s the video version of “Rush Over Me,” the collaboration we mentioned earlier. Watch and weep.
Top image via @captainsparklez Twitter
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