Oliver Anthony went from amateur singer-songwriter to having the No. 1 song in America in less than two weeks. "Rich Men North of Richmond" topped the Billboard Hot 100 this week and made history.
Anthony becomes the first artist to debut at No. 1 after having not appeared on the chart ever before, in any capacity. His meteoric rise comes as record labels clamor for his attention, and fans scour for new songs and tour dates.
Related: Here Are the Lyrics to Oliver Anthony's "Rich Men North of Richmond"
- Per Billboard, "Rich Men North of Richmond" sold 147,000 downloads last week.
- The song also tallied 17.5M streams across all DSPs.
- Radio has been slow to embrace the song. Last week's 553,000 airplay impressions would not have been enough for the song to chart on the Billboard Country Airplay chart the previous week.
Anthony's reign atop the Hot 100 means Morgan Wallen won't inch closer to a chart record of his own. His song "Last Night" had spent 16 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 in 2023. That's second all time longest, behind the "Old Town Road" collab between Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus at 19 weeks.
The song "Rich Men of North Richmond" dropped on YouTube on Aug. 8 and quickly gained millions of streams. Jamey Johnson helped boost the song when he appeared alongside Anthony (real name Christopher Lunsford) at a show in Eastern North Carolina.
However, the primary driver has been a lyric that ordinary Americans can relate to.
While deemed divisive by some, Anthony insists he's down the middle politically. Conservative political pundits have embraced the track more than their liberal counterparts, but Anthony hasn't stoked those flames in any way.
Despite multiple record label offers, he's still an independent artist and says he'll plan his next steps slowly.
The Best Oliver Anthony Songs — His Entire Catalog, Ranked
A chronological listen of Oliver Anthony
's songs shows a longterm effort to massage the themes present in "Rich Men of North Richmond." Fans will also find he's capable of so much more than being a blue collar folk hero.
The best Oliver Anthony songs are dynamic and complete. They also hold true to the buoyant optimism he speaks of during candid conversations on his YouTube page. Hope isn't always present, however — tracks released in late summer 2022 find the Virginia-raised singer on a dark path, singing of heartbreak and suicide. You can hear and see (if there's video) the strains of life across his face.
Taste of Country ranked all 16 songs Anthony has released so far. Most are cell phone recordings, but we didn't hold a lack of production quality against him. Instead, each song is rated based on strength of message, originality and overall appeal. "Rich Men ..." ranks third, which is not a criticism of his debut hit as much as it is praise of two other mostly unheard-of songs.
11 Country Stars Who Don't Write Their Own Songs + 1 You'll Be Shocked to Learn Does
If you think a country singer needs to write their own songs to be a legitimate artist, take this short quiz:
Just two of those names make this list of 11 country stars who don't write their own songs, and one you'll be surprised to learn does. It's a list that includes four Country Music Hall of Fame inductees and at least two others sure to get in soon. The takeaway is that great singers are great storytellers, especially when they're telling someone else's story.
26 Country Stars You Won't Believe Aren't Grand Ole Opry Members
That answer is often difficult to determine, but this list suggests reasons where appropriate. Membership
into the Grand Ole Opry comes with an obligation to play the show frequently, but that's often set aside (Barbara Mandrell is an inactive member, for example). Only living artists are considered, and once a member dies, they are no longer a member.
As of 2023, there are more than 70 members of the Grand Ole Opry. Historically, nearly 250 men, women and groups were members — so, it's a select group that excludes several Country Music Hall of Famers.