Country singer Oliver Anthony has been in the headlines recently after his song ‘Rich Men North Of Richmond’ was criticised as a “right-wing anthem” and branded “offensive”.
In the eight days since its release, the song has hit Number One on the iTunes Country charts and has racked up over 17million views on YouTube, and has soared to Number One on Apple Music’s Global Music Charts.
In a statement, Anthony has said he won’t rush into signing a record deal though, and has turned down multiple offers.
“People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers,” he wrote on Facebook. “I don’t want six tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight.”
It’s been difficult as I browse through the 50,000+ messages and emails I’ve received in the last week. The stories that…
He continued: “I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression. These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they’re being sung by someone feeling the words in the very moment they were being sung. No editing, no agent, no bullshit.
“Just some idiot and his guitar. The style of music that we should have never gotten away from in the first place.”
Here’s everything we know about the singer and why he has been stirring up controversy.
Who is Oliver Anthony?
Anthony is a former factory worker and farmer, who then decided to become a country singer.
“There’s nothing special about me,” he recently wrote on Facebook. “I’m not a good musician, I’m not a very good person. I’ve spent the last five years struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it.
“I am sad to see the world in the state it’s in, with everyone fighting with each other. I have spent many nights feeling hopeless, that the greatest country on Earth is quickly fading away.”
Last weekend (August 13), he held his first public concert since the viral attention for his song, and appeared to draw a huge crowd to the North Carolina gig.
In a recent tweet, the singer said he was “in a state of shock at the outpouring of love I’ve seen in the comments, messages and emails”.
Rich Men North of Richmond has been uploaded to all major streaming platforms and will show up there in a few days.
Im still in a state of shock at the outpouring of love I’ve seen in the comments, messages and emails. I’m working to respond to everyone as quickly as possible. pic.twitter.com/iScaYp9AWQ
— Oliver Anthony (@AintGottaDollar) August 11, 2023
Why is Oliver Anthony controversial?
Upon its release, ‘Rich Kid North Of Richmond’ has been praised on social media by right-wing media figures including Dan Bongino and Matt Walsh. Republication representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, meanwhile, described it as “the anthem of the forgotten Americans who truly support this nation and unfortunately the world”.
This is the anthem of the forgotten Americans who truly support this nation and unfortunately the world with their hard earned tax dollars and incredibly hard work.
This song represents my district and the people of America I know and love.
I will fight for the forgotten…
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) August 11, 2023
At first listen the song could be interpreted as a working class anthem, as he sings of “sellin’ my soul” for “bullshit pay“. He also lambasts politicians and the “rich men north of Richmond” who “just wanna have total control“.
The song raises societal problems like homelessness and the country’s mental health crisis, but also sees Anthony punch down on the “obese milkin’ welfare“, singing that that “if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds / Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds.”
Elsewhere, The Guardian so it was “no surprise” that the right wing loves it, while The Independent asked if “Republican anthems have to be as terrible as Oliver Anthony’s viral hit ‘Rich Men North of Richmond?”
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