Oliver Anthony Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100

What this means for the 2024 Presidential Election

Oliver Anthony (Image: X)

So viral country-folk star Oliver Anthony’s song “Rich Men North of Richmond” has debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 at the No. 1 spot this week.

This marks the first time an artist has ever made their debut at No. 1 without any kind of previous chart history of any kind.

Now much of this success has to do with the song’s sentiment of disparity with the current direction America is going in. It’s a narrative that’s been received warmly by the right wing of this country, who’ve helped propel the tune to such astounding heights in such a short order. In many ways, it’s similar to the hype surrounding that Sound of Freedom movie they were so crazy about this summer. It also proves the strength of their mobility, which does not bode well for those of us banking on a Trump loss in 2024. 

For Anthony, whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford (Oliver was his grandpa’s first name), a statement he made on Facebook is reflective of his apprehension to all this sudden attention, claiming his motives for writing “Rich Men” were purely therapeutic rather than political.

“I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression,” he wrote. “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.”

Meanwhile, the song inspired English folk great Billy Bragg to write a fantastic response song — “Rich Men Earning North of a Million” — that offers logical, progressive counterpoints to Anthony’s allusions to child trafficking and welfare stereotypes.


AUDIO: Billy Bragg “Rich Men Earning North of a Million”

“Since I saw that clip of Oliver Anthony singing his song ‘Rich Men North of Richmond,’ the ghost of Woody Guthrie has been whispering in my ear,” Bragg said in the spoken word intro to the video for his sonic retort. “‘Help that guy out,’ Woody keeps telling me. ‘Let him know there’s a way to deal with those problems he’s singing about.’ So today I sat down and wrote this response to Mr Anthony’s song, for people like him and people like you.”

The song then proceeds to go line for line about how joining a union would be the answer to all of Anthony’s ills, even addressing him directly in the song’s final verse:


Know your culture wars are there to distract while libertarian billionaires avoid paying tax

You want to talk about bathrooms while the flood waters rise, the forest is on fire

They want to divide us because together we’re strong

Are you gonna take action now you sung your damn song?

You don’t like the rich man having total control

You better get the union to roll


The success of “Rich Men North of Richmond” follows the backlash-laced chart domination of Jason Aldean and his dog whistle anthem “Try That In A Small Town,” and indeed signifies the undeniable power in the right wing’s motivation to get things done when they hitch their wagon to something they support.

As for me, I heard the song and it’s fine for what it is. He’s almost like a down-home, scruffier version of Tim Robbins’ character in Bob Roberts. But it’s unfortunate to see how this guy, though he claims to be centrist in his political views, isn’t exactly debunking the crazy narratives that have popped up since “Rich Men” debuted on August 8th, which happened to be my 50th birthday. It also gives me concern to see the power of the right wing in this country on display through the viral nature of this song.

If these folks can get a virtual unknown like Oliver Anthony to the top of the Billboard chart, imagine what might happen once Election Day 2024 comes around. Do not underestimate them. 

Watch the video for “Rich Men North of Richmond,” which currently has 32 million views on YouTube, below.


VIDEO: Oliver Anthony “Rich Men North of Richmond”


Ron Hart
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Ron Hart

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Roll Globe. Reach him on Twitter @MisterTribune.

One thought on “Oliver Anthony Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100

  • August 22, 2023 at 2:43 pm

    Excellent article.


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