UNKNOWN VIRGINIA COUNTRY singer Oliver Anthony and his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” have had an unusual, stratospheric rise over the past several days as the track, championed by conservative pundits and politicians, has unexpectedly become one of the best-selling songs in the country this week. “Rich Men” now sits atop Apple Music and Spotify’s U.S. charts along with the iTunes sales chart, and Anthony — wholly anonymous until last week — is now among the strongest contenders for a Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100 next week.
In recent days, the song has been widely lauded by far-right politicians including former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, who called it an “anthem for our times.” It’s also received praise from country stars like Travis Tritt and John Rich of Big & Rich.
Quotes Slate, “Don’t be fooled by the title: The most vividly drawn villains in “Rich Men North of Richmond” aren’t rich. “Lord, we got folks in the street, ain’t got nothin’ to eat/ And the obese milkin’ welfare,” Anthony yowls in the second verse. In the next couplet, he completes the picture: “Well, God, if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds/ Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of Fudge Rounds.”
Per the BBC, “Oliver Anthony’s Rich Men North of Richmond represents the image of the rural, put-upon white working-class hero, and the song reflects the narrative of grievance espoused by some right-wing politicians. His lyrics describe: “the obese milkin’ welfare” as well as saying: “I wish politicians would look out for miners/ And not just minors on an island somewhere”, which some have suggested is a reference to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. In another part of his introductory video, Anthony says the issue of child abuse made him decide to speak out, “when I started to see that becoming normalised.”
Rolling Stone, CNN