Blue collar singing sensation Oliver Anthony has become the first debut artist to go straight to number one on the Billboard charts with his country anthem Rich Men North of Richmond.
The factory worker from Farmville, Virginia, has bested the Beatles and Elvis after his self-penned song attacking politicians drew 17.5 million streams and 147,000 downloads in the last week.
The song has captivated millions of disenchanted listeners and seen Anthony hailed as a hero by conservative commentators already excited by the chart-topping success of Jason Aldean’s Try That in a Small Town.
‘Thirty years from now Taylor Swift will be remembered as the Millennial Barry Manilow,’ tweeted James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation think tank.
‘Jason Aldean and Anthony Oliver will be remembered for protests songs that defined a generation.’
Oliver Anthony had plenty to smile about at his free concert in North Carolina at the weekend
Top of the pops: The country anthem has stormed ahead of offerings from Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift
Hundreds turned out to see Anthony at his free concert days before he stormed to the top of the charts
Anthony’s chart placing came without the help of 30 million YouTube views which did not count towards the charts because the video was uploaded to Anthony’s manager’s account.
His success has attracted the interest of industry figures including country producer John Rich and rapper Gucci Mane, but the bearded crooner insists he is not going to become a rich man south of Richmond any time soon.
‘People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers,’ he wrote on his Facebook page.
‘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.
‘I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression.
‘No editing, no agent, no bullshit. Just some idiot and his guitar.’
Anthony’s song slams high taxes, low wages, child trafficking and the ‘obese milkin’ welfare’.
‘Well, God, if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds,’ he sings.
He credits one of his biggest influences as Hank Williams Jr
He could be a rich man south of Richmond if merchandising sales take off
The populist anthem has already attracted a legion of devoted followers
‘Young men are puttin’ themselves six feet in the ground cause all this damn country does is keep on kickin’ them down.’
The song has been championed by conservative influencers including TV host Laura Ingraham, who paid tribute to its ‘haunting sound and commentary on what’s happened to America’s working class’, and has put the pop charts at the heart of the culture wars.
‘I can’t listen to Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond” without getting chills,’ tweeted former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.
‘It’s raw, it’s true, and it’s touching the hearts of men & women across this great nation.’
Try That in a Small Town became Aldean’s first national chart-topper after it was pulled by country network CMT for its video filmed at a courthouse which was the site of a 1946 race riot and a 1927 lynching.
The ban was slammed by Fox News host Jesse Watters and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as an example of left-wing cancel-culture.
The factory worker lives with his dog on a smallholding outside Farmville
Jason Aldean scored a number one earlier this summer with his incendiary Try That in a Small Town
But the controversial video in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Tennessee prompted a ban by the CMT
Oliver, real name Christopher Anthony Lunsford, blames the internet for dividing America and insists he is ‘pretty dead center down the aisle on politics and, always have been’.
‘You know, talking to their neighbors again and their coworkers and just trying to find similarities with each other instead of division—that’s really all I want,’ told Fox News after a free concert in North Carolina on Saturday.
But his populist anthem has attracted a backlash from left-wing artists, including English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg who responded with a parody entitled ‘Rich Men Earning North of a Million’.
‘Nothing is gonna change if all you do is wish you could wake up and it not be true,’ he sings.