Morgan Wallen Is Making Country Music More Popular
Country music is growing globally and according to The Economist, the genre has superstar Morgan Wallen to thank for that.
The UK publication reports that the 30-year-old Tennessee native's chart domination of late has seen it give country music a major boost.
Wallen’s latest album, One Thing at a Time, has reigned Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart for 12 straight weeks – the longest since the Titanic soundtrack owned the chart 25 years ago. His current single, “Last Night,” has spent 30 weeks on the Hot 100 chart and has spent more time at #1than any other country song in history. The song is one of three currently occupying the Hot 100's first three slots on its U.S. chart: “Rich Men North Of Richmond” by Oliver Anthony Music (1), “Fast Car” by Luke Combs (2) and “Last Night” by Wallen (3).
The Economist learned that in the first half of 2023, country streams in the U.S. have risen 20% overall compared to last year. And according to analytics firm Luminate, Wallen is responsible for 40% of that growth.
A recent poll conducted by YouGov also discovered that country music has become more popular in America than hip-hop and R&B. Approximately 45% of the country (150 million) listens to the genre at least once a month, while 36% of the top 50 songs streamed on Spotify are country, which is a 34% growth from 2016.
Not only has country music become more popular in cities, as opposed to rural areas where it originated (Wallen’s biggest audiences are in Minneapolis, Chicago and Boston), but its reach is growing outside of the States. The Economist notes that countries such as Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Philippines are becoming priority markets for record labels thanks to huge increases in streams on TikTok and other DSPs.
One of the greatest draws for an artist like Wallen is his relatability and modesty, The Economist explains. Alongside artists like Zach Bryan and Luke Combs, Wallen exudes the persona of “a simple man chasing big dreams,” which tend to be about finding love or drinking beer.
Country music’s shift towards sounding more like pop has helped expand its appeal. Following in the footsteps of Shania Twin, Faith Hill, and more recently, Taylor Swift, the genre has utilized signature production tricks from pop, as well as hip-hop (i.e. Wallen's hit 2022 collaboration with Lil Durk, “Broadway Girls”).
The report goes on to state that while Wallen may be bringing country music to the masses, he isn’t quite a household name just yet. Only one-third of Americans actually know him by name, but that much like the rise of country music, that too will no doubt change.
Listen to music from Morgan Wallen