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Smooth McGroove: How a bearded gamer became YouTube's next big star

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Move over, Bieber. There's a new YouTube singing phenomenon in town—and he makes his own chainmail.

With a massive, bushy beard and hair flowing past his shoulders—plus the aforementioned light armor—Smooth McGroove hardly looks like a typical pop star. But wait until you hear him sing.

He’s been described by fans as having the appearance of a viking and the voice of an angel, and his a cappella arrangements of popular video game music have set gamers swooning since his debut mere months ago.

"I [subscribed] in the first five seconds... that's never happened to me before," one fan admitted after being blown away by McGroove's version of a track from Final Fantasy VII.

He’s not alone. With nearly 150,000 subscribers and millions of YouTube views piling up for McGroove’s videos, it’s clear that Smooth-mania is rising.

Though he’s a relative newcomer to YouTube, McGroove is no stranger to music. He has been a drummer for 17 years—nearly as long as Justin Bieber has been alive—but it was only recently that he decided to start singing. At first, he was actually hesitant to kick off a YouTube career.

"I'm a fairly introverted guy, so it took quite a bit for me to put up my first YouTube video," he told the Daily Dot. "When I decided to start releasing my songs on the Internet, I didn't want to use my real name. I wanted to use something funny and original, and after a few days of laughing back and forth with some friends, 'Smooth McGroove' was born."

In a revelation that may come as a surprise to his growing fanbase, McGroove didn't set out to do video game music covers.

"I started off writing original songs about games that I love, and eventually I decided to cover one—'Zelda's Lullaby' from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time—using only my voice," he said. "I enjoyed it so much that I kept doing it!"

 

McGroove wasn't the only one who enjoyed the track. "Zelda's Lullaby" received over 70,000 views in less than three months. His most popular video, "Guile's Theme" from Street Fighter II, was released on April 8 and already has nearly 1.5 million views.

Since attaining notoriety on YouTube, McGroove has parlayed his fame into other corners of the Internet. Both iTunes and Louder.fm carry his album and his Facebook fan page has racked up 7,000 likes.

McGroove's repertoire includes everything from Mega Man X to Castlevania. In addition to his own favorites, he also takes fan requests and can complete a complex video project in roughly a week.

He’s adopted the multitrack style made popular by YouTubers like MysteryGuitarMan and Matt Mulholland, with as many as 12 separate McGrooves on screen at once, all stringing together a series of whistles, pops, hums, and other sounds into pitch-perfect melodies. If he has room, he’ll even throw in the game footage that corresponds with his vocal stylings. And almost every Smooth McGroove video features a cameo from his beloved black cat, Charl.

While he is proud of all of his work, McGroove admitted that he has a soft spot for role playing games in particular.

"I enjoy 'JENOVA' from Final Fantasy VII the most," he said.

As for his signature hairy appearance?

"My hair's been this long for about ten years," he said. "The beard's been around for about two years."

But unlike his facial hair, Mc Groove’s fame is still young. His plan for the time being is simple: to continue doing what his fans love.

"I'd like to keep covering video game songs a cappella as long as people enjoy watching/listening," he said. "I'd eventually like to make arrangements of an entire game soundtrack."

Paging Scooter Braun: We may have found your next project.

Photo via Smooth McGroove/Facebook