The American country song that tops the list and sparks political controversy – DW – 08/26/2023

The song that was not known until recently nation Singer-songwriter Oliver Anthony became an overnight smash hit. Anthony’s song “Rich Men North of Richmond” has surpassed megastars Taylor Swift, Morgan Whalen and Olivia Rodrigo on the Billboard Hot 100. singles Chart classification. Such an unprecedented entry into the charts, according to Music Magazine painting He said.

painting He noted that Anthony, a self-proclaimed farmer from rural Virginia, became the first artist ever to top the chart “without any previous charting record in any way”.

according to paintingThe song has been streamed over 17.5 million times and downloaded 147,000 times in less than a week after it was released on YouTube on August 8. It also climbed to the top of the Apple Country Chart.

As of Wednesday, August 23, it has been viewed over 34 million times on the RADIOWV YouTube channel featuring his song.

This meandering anthem, which could be interpreted as an anthem for the working class, struck a nerve among the disenfranchised in the United States, as Anthony sang: “I’ve been selling my soul, working all day, working overtime for shit.” Pay, so I can sit here and waste my life away.

Part of the song’s appeal is that some of the lyrics sound so universal: “It’s such a shame what the world has come to, for people like me, for people like you, I wish I could just wake up and it’s not right.”

Anthony describes himself as a “guitar-playing idiot”, but says he wrote his music because he was suffering from depressionPhoto: Kendall Warner/The Virginian-Pilot/AP/Image Alliance

Policy or not?

As the United States prepares for what is likely to be another long-term round of political maneuvering ahead of the presidential election in November 2024, Anthony has captured the hearts of millions by stalking his view of the political and economic elite. “These rich men north of Richmond…they all just want total control, they want to know what you think, they want to know what you do…”

However, Anthony criticizes some of the other downtrodden in the United States: “Lord, we have people in the street, having nothing to eat, taking care of fat milkers… You shouldn’t pay taxes, for your candy bags.” Tours.”

It evokes a notion so widespread in the United States that people on state aid feed only from the system.

But the song’s title and lyrics also capture the common argument that Americans in the South, many in poor rural areas, have been left behind by those in power.

Oliver Anthony’s fans have put their trust in himPhoto: Kendall Warner/The Virginian-Pilot/AP/Image Alliance

Just a guy with a guitar and his dogs

Richmond in Rich Men North Richmond refers to the capital of the state of Virginia in the southeastern United States, where Anthony resides. It is also just a few hours’ drive south of the US capital political axisWashington, DC.

According to Anthony’s YouTube channel RADIOWV, he lives in the aptly named small town of Farmville, “with his three dogs and a plot of land he plans to turn into a small ranch to raise cattle.” In fact, in the “Rich Men of Richmond” video, he can be seen singing outdoors in a wooded area, with a hunting cabin in a tree in the background and a camp bench to the side.

He cites Hank Williams Jr. as his biggest musical influence. RADIOWV wrote on YouTube: “Oliver wants to give hope to the working class and to the average hard-working young man who may have given up hope trying to get by.”

Anthony has a lot of fans posting his songs on social media, like at his August 19, 2023 concert in North Carolina.Photo: Kendall Warner/The Virginian-Pilot/AP/Image Alliance

Politicians are seizing the opportunity

In the charged political climate in the United States, some politicians have seized on Anthony’s perceived message.

Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Southern state who has a history of supporting far-right conspiracy theories, said on Platform X (formerly known as Twitter) that Anthony’s song is one of the songs “Washington, D.C. needs to hear.”

However, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of northeastern Connecticut said left-leanings should heed Anthony’s call, writing on the same social media platform that “progressives should listen to this,” adding that the song “shows the path to realignment.” “He sings about lack of work spirit, meager wages and the power of elites. All problems the left has better solutions than the right.”

Anthony himself has described his political views as “very dead center”.

At a concert in North Carolina on Saturday, August 19, he told Fox News, “I don’t see our country continuing for another generation the way we’re going. We have to go back to the roots of what made this country great.” in the first place.”

Anthony claims he doesn’t like the spotlight

The country singer and former factory worker, whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford, adopted his grandfather’s name “Oliver Anthony” as his stage name. He has been writing music since 2021.

But despite his massive popularity at the moment, he says he’s in no rush to sign a record deal: “People in the music industry give me blank stares when I turn down offers of $8 million,” he wrote on Facebook, saying he hadn’t do that. I don’t want to go on big tours.

“I don’t want to be in the spotlight. I wrote the music that I wrote because I was struggling with mental health and depression. These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they are sung by someone who is feeling,” he said in his Facebook post on August 17. the words at the exact moment they were sung. No editing, no proxy, no bullshit. Just an idiot and his guitar.”

However, Anthony has already inspired other musicians. Across the pond, British punk has turned into–folk singer And labor rights activist Billy Bragg released on August 21 on YouTube his own response to Anthony’s song “Rich Men”.

Watchman It was mentioned in the introduction to Bragg’s video for his song “Corrective” to Anthony, in which he said he felt “the ghost of[the late American folk artist]Woody Guthrie whispering in my ear”. “Help this guy,” Woody continues to tell me, “let him know there’s a way to deal with those problems he sings about.”

Instead of lashing out at “overweight crooks in the welfare system,” for example, Bragg’s book “Rich Men Who Earn North of a Million” urges people to channel populist anger toward more deserving targets. Bragg sings: “We will not attack those who need a little understanding and some solidarity – it’s not right, my friend.”

Rather than just remain angry, he suggests joining the union as a productive form of protest.

Editing: Brenda Haas

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