Who Is Oliver Anthony? His Viral Song Is a Hit Among Conservatives, But He Doesn’t Exactly Lean Right-Wing
Oliver Anthony Music's viral song "Rich Men North of Richmond" is the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for the second week in a row.
According to Billboard, the song's breakout success makes Oliver Anthony the first artist to ever top the chart with no prior chart history in any form.
Oliver Anthony's song snagged the No. 1 spot thanks to massive streaming numbers and a surge in country radio airplay.
"We just knew if we got the video out there, people were going to love the song and it would resonate with a lot of folks. There wasn’t some big, massive planning team around this," Oliver Anthony's co-manager, Draven Riffe, told Billboard.
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The song also gained notoriety after it was posted on the radiowv YouTube channel on Aug. 11. The channel spotlights up-and-coming Americana and country music artists in the Virginia and West Virginia area.
What Is "Rich Men North of Richmond" About?
"Rich Men North of Richmond" is a country-folk song that criticizes both the state of the world and corporate politicians. The song also expresses the emotions and frustrations of the average blue-collar worker in America.
"I've been sellin' my soul, workin' all day / Overtime hours for bulls--t pay," Oliver Anthony sings on the opening lines of the track.
"Livin' in the new world / With an old soul / These rich men north of Richmond / Lord knows they all just wanna have total control," he croons on the chorus.
"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," Oliver Anthony shared on Facebook regarding the creation of the song.
Listen to Oliver Anthony's "Rich Men North of Richmond":
Where Is Oliver Anthony From?
Oliver Anthony is a former factory worker-turned-musician from Farmville, Va. The independent singer-songwriter's real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. His stage name honors his grandfather, Oliver Anthony, who was raised in Appalachia in the 1930s.
The 31-year-old folk singer-songwriter began writing music in 2021. "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," he shared in a Facebook post on Aug. 17.
According to his Facebook, the musician dropped out of high school in 2010. He obtained his GED before working in multiple factories until he fractured his skull in a work-related accident in 2013. Since 2014, he's worked in sales in the industrial manufacturing world, which introduced him to blue-collar workers in his area who shared stories similar to the experience he sings about on "Rich Men North of Richmond."
Oliver Anthony's music is reportedly influenced by older country artists such as Hank Williams.
Is Oliver Anthony a Republican or Democrat?
Oliver Anthony's blue-collar song has been embraced by conservatives. However, the artist himself says he sits "pretty dead center down the aisle on politics and always have."
"It’s aggravating seeing people on conservative news try to identify with me like I’m one of them. It was funny seeing my song … at the presidential debate because it’s like I wrote that song about those people, you know, so for them to have to sit there and have to listen to that, that cracks me up," Oliver Anthony explained in a recent video, according The Washington Post.
"That song was written about the people on that stage [at the GOP debate] and a lot more," Oliver Anthony added after also denying that he supports President Joe Biden.
In another Facebook post, he explained the song is about criticizing "corporate-owned D.C. politicians on both sides ... It’s knocking the system collectively."
"We are the melting pot of the world, and that's what makes us strong is our diversity, and we need to learn to harness that and appreciate it, and not use it as a political tool to keep everyone separate from each other, you know?" Oliver Anthony said in a recent interview.