Country music is having a Cinderella moment of sorts with Morgan Wallen, Jason Aldean and even newcomer Oliver Anthony claiming a top spot on the Billboard100 with his viral hit.
While it appears as though country’s success is only a recent fairytale come true, the genre has been a staple sound in homes, on radios and played live on stages across America for decades.
Kenny Chesney exclusively told Fox News Digital that the surge in popularity is not so sudden after all, “people are so drawn to country music all the time.” John Rich surmised that listeners were simply drawn to “real music” from the heart.
“The essence of timelessness defines country music. As fans increasingly embrace streaming platforms, their listening habits are propelling country artists up the charts,” Holly Baird, artist branding and crisis communications expert, told Fox News Digital.
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“Country music’s authenticity shines through, rooted in narratives about family, faith and life’s journey,” Baird said. “As the genre evolves and resonates across generations, its renewed influence stands as a testament to its lasting appeal.”
Wallen’s third album, “One Thing At a Time,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard200 in March and held the top spot for six months. He currently joins Luke Combs and Internet sensation Oliver Anthony in the top three spots on the Billboard100.
“The surge in the popularity and influence of country music is undeniable, echoing the crossover trends of the ’90s when artists like Garth Brooks made their mark on pop stations,” Baird said. “Today, country music is once again seamlessly crossing over, driven by collaborations with artists from diverse genres. Notable examples include partnerships like Florida Georgia Line and Nelly, P!nk and Keith Urban, and Kelsea Ballerini with Halsey.”
Country has seen a boom in audio streaming in the last year alone. Luminate Research’s Artist & Genre Tracker showed that the average country music fan spent 7% more time listening to music via terrestrial radio than a typical U.S. consumer, but Wallen fans (mostly composed of GenZ and millennials) generally consider streaming as their No. 1 source for music.
“When it comes to country music, in particular, the world is discovering the songs and specifically the stories that are told by those songs,” Guy Blake, founding member and managing partner at Granderson Des Rochers, LLC, told Fox News Digital.
“The stories that are being told in country songs are speaking to the audience today with broader and diverse messaging. There are a lot of different messages at play speaking to people’s culture and upbringing, the challenges they had, and who they loved. These messages are resonating with a younger audience today.”
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Blake added, “The genre itself is multifaceted. Country music is broader today than it was in the past. There are elements of traditional music, but there are also non-traditional styles which incorporate blues like Chris Stapleton or Morgan Wallen, or country pop like Taylor Swift.”
Wallen’s latest album accounted for almost 10% of all country on-demand audio streaming since its March release, and garnered 2.26 billion streams (the highest weekly total ever for country U.S. audio streaming the week ending June 1).
Swift has remained on the Billboard charts for nearly 500 weeks, and recently earned the status of having more No. 1 albums than any woman in history.
Her latest re-recorded album, “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” officially debuted on top of the Billboard 200 in July. The catalog is her 12th album to reach the top spot.
“Racially diverse artists are also coming into play like Kane Brown and Mickey Guyton speaking to a whole other type of audience and bringing diversity to country music that can speak to an even broader culture,” Blake said. “The bottom line is there is something for everyone in country music, as there always was, but more people are realizing it is not just a two-dimensional genre.”
Blake added, “Ultimately, the message of country music is real relatable stories. We may not always agree with the messaging and what is said in country, or any music genre, but it speaks to the artist and their story, which is a beautiful thing.”
Chesney’s not surprised that country’s such a hot commodity – he’s witnessed millions of fans belting out his songs at his shows over the last 18 years. The “When the Sun Goes Down” singer wouldn’t say country music has become a bigger phenomenon than what he’s known it to already be, though.
“Maybe because of streaming and a few hot button songs, it feels like it’s now, but the truth is: I’ve been playing 18, 21, 24 stadiums a summer since 2006,” Chesney said. “Even when we weren’t, I watched a lot of artists sell a lot of tickets, put a lot of smiles on people’s faces.”
He added, “Sometimes I think the media doesn’t pay attention to ‘the flyover,’ so they have no clue about what’s happening with the people who love this music. No Shoes Nation (Chesney’s devoted following) is a real thing: passionate, hard-working, fun- and life-loving people who know how to have a good time.”
Chesney guessed that a few country acts could be “landing on the pop charts because of streaming,” he also estimated, “I bet you there are a bunch of country artists who’re selling more tickets than some of the big streaming acts.”
“So, if you’re measuring beyond how much people are listening to something – and that’s an amazing thing – but looking at who’s spending the money, who’s making the trip out, fighting the traffic (though at our shows, people hit those parking lots, set up barbecues and the party starts early!), hanging out in the sun all day,” Chesney said.
“To me, that says country music’s been healthy all along. It’s how people look at it that maybe misses how popular this genre really is.”
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John Rich recently self-released his album “The Country Truth” on Rich Records, with tracks including “I’m Offended,” “Progress” and “Shut up About Politics.” He’s praised both Jason Aldean and Oliver Anthony for their straightforward approaches in connecting with fans.
Anthony is enjoying sudden success after becoming the first ever artist to debut at No. 1 this week without any prior chart history with his political anthem “Rich Men North of Richmond.”
Anthony, a former factory worker from Virginia whose full name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford, became a viral sensation just last week with his breakthrough song detailing his frustrations with the country. He’s since racked up more than 30 million views on YouTube and also turned down an $8 million record contract.
“People are waking up to the fact that what they thought was true is probably not,” Rich said. “So when songs come out that actually speak the truth – they’re not a marketing angle, it’s not somebody came up with something at a big company and tried to hoist it upon the American listener – when it’s real music set in a real way from a real place in somebody’s heart. Well, brother, that’s called the truth.
“And the truth cannot be stopped, and so when people are exposed to truth after being lied to for so long, they respond en masse. That’s why I think you see all these songs at the top of the charts.”
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