Oliver Anthony, the overnight sensation behind the viral working-class anthem “Rich Men North of Richmond,” is addressing the politicization of his song. In a recent YouTube video, he expressed his frustration at seeing his song being used for political purposes.
Anthony found it amusing that his song was played at the 2024 Republican presidential primary debate, as it was originally written about the people on that very stage. However, he emphasized his discomfort with the song being intertwined with politics. He stated, “It’s aggravating seeing people on conservative news try to identify with me, like I’m one of them. It’s aggravating seeing certain musicians and politicians act like we’re buddies and act like we’re fighting the same struggle here, like that we’re trying to present the same message.”
“Rich Men North of Richmond” has been embraced by conservatives, but Anthony was critical of both sides of the political spectrum in the video. He clarified that his ballad “has nothing to do” with Democratic President Joe Biden and expressed his disdain for the song being weaponized.
He urged an end to attempts to characterize him as a political figure, saying, “I see the right trying to characterize me as one of their own, and I see the left trying to discredit me, I guess in retaliation. That sh*t’s gotta stop.”
The song skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, amassing millions of views on social media in less than a week. Anthony’s sudden success led him to reflect on the music industry, describing it as “dirtier than you think.”
He also noted the diverse range of people who have been moved by the song, as indicated by YouTube reaction videos. While the track has received praise from country stars like Travis Tritt and John Rich of Big & Rich, it has also stirred controversy due to its lyrics referencing politicians and welfare recipients.
In terms of his personal politics, Anthony previously stated that he falls “pretty dead center down the aisle” and finds fault with leaders on both the left and the right.
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