A viral song by country singer Oliver Anthony has been criticized for its “offensive” lyrics, while it has been praised by a number of prominent right-wing figures.
The song, titled “Rich Men North of Richmond,” has racked up more than 11 million views on YouTube in less than a week and has risen to #1 on the iTunes country chart.
Prior to the song’s release, Anthony was an unknown figure on the country music scene, describing himself as a farmer and former factory worker living off the grid.
The lyrics to Rich Men North of Richmond include a series of grievances about politicians, welfare recipients and taxes. Fans have hailed the song as an ode to working-class America, and right-wing media personalities including Dan Bongino, Matt Walsh and country singer John Rich praised the track on social media.
“I sold my soul, worked all day / paid overtime for bulls***,” Anthony sings on the song.
However, some of the other lyrics have drawn criticism from listeners.
“Lord, we have people on the streets who have nothing to eat and the obese milk welfare,” reads one line. “Well god, if you’re 5’7″ and 300 pounds, your bags of fudge shouldn’t be taxed.”
Elsewhere, he sings, “Your dollar don’t suck and it’s taxed to the max / Because of the rich men north of Richmond.”
On X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, listeners voiced their criticism of the song.
“‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ is not an ode to the working class,” one wrote. “It’s a reactionary song that upholds the fatphobia and classic ‘welfare queen’ popularized by [former US president Ronald Reagan]. It vaguely criticizes the rich but directly/falsely blames the poor for “milking out” the system.”
“‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ is an archetypal example of right-wing populist ideology,” commented another.
“There is a vague gesture against the elites who oppress working people, but the supposed mechanism by which they oppress them is by giving their tax dollars to ‘undeserving’ poor people.”
As someone else remarked, “Nothing expresses more class consciousness than a song that’s center verse all about how the poor can’t eat because of obese welfare recipients.”
“The beginning of the song makes you totally believe it’s going to have a compelling political message, so I figured he meant something like a ‘fat corporate cat’, but no, he just means the obese lmao. It’s such a weird, misguided anger,” another person wrote.
The Independent asked Anthony for comment.
In a video shared on YouTube shortly after the song’s release, Anthony describes himself as “pretty deeply into politics, and always has been.” [been]“.
On the iTunes country chart, Anthony’s song has overtaken Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town,” another song that caused controversy thanks to inflammatory lyrics.