In 2018, YouTube channel CM Skits posted a 16-second video titled “Let’s Play Fortnite!!!!”, wherein a high-pitched distorted voice crooned a pained song snippet about the battle royale shooter Fortnite to the tune of “American Boy” by Estelle. It is the kind of video you chuckle at, close the window, and forget about forever five seconds after watching it. For YouTuber Leviathan, a then-13-year-old that enjoyed Fortnite, it was a video that seemingly stuck with him. Using the CM Skit video as a basis, Leviathan then wrote and performed an entire song based on that concept and called it “Chug Jug with You”.
(Thank you to Polygon and Ana Diaz for educating me on this topic of Chug Jug.)
Now at three million views after two years, “Chug Jug” has found a bit of a resurgence on TikTok and irony-dripped Discord chats from people who either start out sincerely digging the song or find themselves genuinely liking it after enough repeated playthroughs.
First off, the vocals are…well, they’re vocals by a pre-pubescent child. There’s no criticizing that. What kind of monster would go “This child’s singing voice isn’t up to my standards?” It actually comes off as more adorable than anything else, so good job, Leviathan. Way to be.
For songwriting, though, I have nothing but praise. It doesn’t always fit nicely into the rhythm Estelle laid down with “American Boy,” but that kind of just makes it funnier. Also, hell, he wrote a whole song. I can’t write a whole song. Moreover, despite the fact that the central thesis in the song is about an item that no longer exists in Fortnite, the lyrics keep to their theme pretty well. The kid knows his Fortnite.
Cover art for the video is where I start to part ways with Leviathan here. Look, maybe I’m just old, and I’m fairly certain I am, but everything about the video image weirds me out. Granted, I also grew up on music videos where I’m pretty sure Paula Abdul and a cartoon wolf were arguing about sleeping together, so every generation has their weird shit. I’m just saying, not necessarily feeling this.
Either way, “Chug Jug With You” is surprisingly okay. It might speak to the strong fundamentals of “American Boy,” but this kid got three million views for speaking of the much more relatable subject of Fortnite. And, hey, there’s also a pretty good irony here in Fortnite having shamelessly taken the battle royale concept from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and making it more popular inside their survival game. You have to at least kind of appreciate that.