Oliver Anthony is the 'nobody' who's gripped America: What you need to know

Here's why you're about to hear a lot more of the 'Rich Men North of Richmond' singer.

If when you hear the name Oliver Anthony, it doesn't ringing any bells, you're not alone. The obscure country music singer from Virginia, who before this month lived in virtual anonymity, has sensationally debuted atop the US Billboard charts with his viral breakout “Rich Men North of Richmond” — and it's got millions talking.

What you need to know

  • The hit song from Anthony, a heavily-bearded former factory worker, has been dubbed both a working class — and bizarrely — right-wing anthem.

  • The success of the single has seen Anthony become the only person in history to debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 without any prior chart history.

  • Anthony sings about selling his soul by "working all day... for bulls*** pay" – an issue that resonates with millions amid a global cost of living crisis. He also criticises high taxes and elitism.

  • The song has raised eybrows for hints to Jeffrey Epstein, 9/11 conspiracies, and curiously, even seemingly casts judgement on overweight people.

  • Anthony, who performs under his grandfather's name, has detailed a lengthy battle with alcoholism and depression, which led to him recording the song.

Oliver Anthony performs Rich Men North of Richmond at the Eagle Creek Golf Club on August 19, 2023 in Moyock, North Carolina. Source: Mike Caudill for Billboard via Getty Images.
Oliver Anthony's hit Rich Men North of Richmond has shot straight to the top of the US Billboard Hot 100. Source: Mike Caudill for Billboard via Getty Images.

❓How did this happen?

The song has been vocally supported by right-wing politicians and has been pushed by conservative media, proving to be a major driving force in it's popularity.

The single is controversial, a little jarring, has been criticised by the left and lauded by the right, but above all, is incredibly catchy, all the makings of a sure-fire smash hit. The Billboard Hot 100 is calculated based on a mix of physical sales, streaming downloads as well as radio play across the US.

Anthony's unassuming and modest persona has added to his allure and popularity. He claims to have turned down multi-million dollar recording contracts following his music's meteoric rise.

🗣️What are they saying

Oliver Anthony in the wake of his success: "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.

"People are so damn tired of being neglected, divided and manipulated."

English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg released his own rewritten version, criticising some perceived fat-phobia and anti-welfare rhetoric mentioned in the original, advising: "Join a union, fight for better pay, you better join a union, brother.. Organise today.”

Laura Ingham, a conservative Fox News TV host, attempted to cement the tune as a right-wing anthem. "The left is so used to having [a] monopoly, aren't they, in music and in film, theatre, even sports, that they start to sputter and fume at any perceived encroachment by non-wokesters."

Oliver Anthony at the Oliver Anthony concert at the Eagle Creek Golf Club.
Oliver Anthony meets with fans after performing at the Eagle Creek Golf Club. Source: Mike Caudill for Billboard via Getty Images.

Read more about Oliver Anthony's viral success

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