An Unlikely Candidate; How Joseph Gaines Swiftly Rose to Popularity

Miles Plueger #21, IJ Contributors T2-2018 (16-29)

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Two months ago, if I had asked a random person in the hallway if they knew who Joseph Gaines was, they most likely would have said no. Surely if I pulled someone aside and asked them now, they would know exactly who I was talking about. How is this possible? Why, “Jingle on the Streets” of course. This is the story of a guy who went from ordinary to MORP royalty.

A few years ago, the picture on this album was taken:

From there, not much progress was made until around October 2017, when Gaines’ work began on his first recorded album “Jingle on the Streets”; that picture became the album cover. Ethan Wright, a friend of Gaines, claimed that the idea for the album was his when they talked over the popular voice-chat site “Discord”. You may notice that the album cover says “Parental Advisory”. Rest assured parents, this was done as a joke.

The whole idea for the album was a joke in and of itself, according to Gaines. “…since we already had the cover for Jingle on the Streets, we chose to make that a real thing,” he said. The incredible thing was that the albums sold like hot cakes. The lack of seriousness could have been what allowed the album to take off.

When I asked Joe about the rather interesting song choices for his Christmas themed album, he told me that they had some songs planned for a purely Christmas themed album, but added a couple of classics from the hit cartoon TV show Spongebob Squarepants. “The others were chosen because we thought it would be funny at the time,” he said.

Gaines had a lot to say about the recording and producing of the album. He explained that the recording was not too difficult, however they recorded in the winter in his garage, so the temperature was less than optimal. Producing was where they ran into problems. “…I had issues setting up the software I used to mix the album, several crashes, then the actual mastering was just tedious,” he explained. When it came to the equipment, they had not thought out what they might use, so they did a little improvising. “I used a Blue Snowball microphone, threw a wool sock on it for a makeshift pop filter and used Sony Vegas to record the audio since Audacity wouldn’t recognize the microphone,” he said.

Despite hiccups along the way, the album was a huge success when he handed out copies at school. He started by giving them out for free, but realized he could make a profit, so he started charging people, and the demand kept growing. Gaines sold some 50 or more copies. After just a few days, teachers and students alike were talking about this amateur artist. A friend of mine, Andrew Truong, told me that even his Social Studies teacher Ms. Polloway was playing it during a test!

For an entire week, Gaines was the talk of the school. I asked him if he had ever expected this to blow up like it did. “Not in a million years, one of my fears about the release is that I would be bullied for it,” he said. He continued to say that he was very glad that people took it the way it was intended: a joke.

I asked some of Gaines’ friends who helped produce, record, copy, and distribute the album, if they expected this to happen and what might have attracted people to it. Trenton Falconer said “F[***] no it’s Joe Gaines, I think people wanted it just because it started getting popular and someone actually made a[n] album in this school.”

Logan Hartfiel replied, “I figured it would be a[n] inside joke and maybe a couple people would want one. It was shocking that so many people wanted one that I was still passing them out about a month later.”

Ethan Wright commented, “No, we expected to just push them into people’s hands out of my locker. People were probably attracted because it was not expected to be something serious at all. Also going around to teachers’ rooms…and giving them copies likely stirred up interest.”

Judging from various responses, people seemed very impressed that a high schooler could pull off something like recording an album, but also because it was from someone they had never heard of.

However, Gaines’s fame didn’t end there. As MORP began to roll around in January 2018, word spread that people were going to vote for Gaines to be MORP king. Students got really excited over the idea of electing him, as it would be the ultimate rise to fame. He became a finalist, and a few days before the final election, I asked him if he had expected this to happen, or if this was something he even wanted. He claimed he had ‘mixed feelings’ over being MORP royalty and had never been to a school dance. He claimed he didn’t expect to win, saying “Despite how many people liked Jingle on the Streets, It wont [sic] be enough to be close to coronation king”.

He referred to potentially becoming MORP king saying, “I, objectively, am not a man who should have any form of power. But who cares, it’s high school”.

Joey lost in a very close race against Christian Johnson.

My final question for Gaines’ friends was whether we could expect another album from him. Get ready ladies, because the next album drops on Valentine’s Day. For all the seniors kicking off the summer, another is expected for graduation day.

Unfortunately, I was not able to get my hands on his first album, however I have listened to the album in full, and it was a masterpiece, a 10/10 in my book. His album also has also been released on soundcloud.com.

Whether you have heard about Gaines by now or not, he’s a talented kid, and who knows, he could be seen as a big time producer one day.

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An Unlikely Candidate; How Joseph Gaines Swiftly Rose to Popularity