Anthony Oliver Music’s viral hit “Rich Men North of Richmond” arrives on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart (dated Sept. 2) at No. 45. In the tracking week ending Aug. 24, the song, released Aug. 11 (after the singer-songwriter had previewed it on TikTok), drew 2 million audience impressions, up 294%, according to Luminate.
The single, which the Farmville, Va.-based artist (born Christopher Anthony Lunsford) solely wrote, marks his first chart entry. On the Aug. 26-dated charts, “Richmond” launched at No. 1 on the all-genre, multimetric Billboard Hot 100, as well as Hot Country Songs. He became the first artist with no prior chart history in any form to soar in at the summit of each survey.
The former factory worker’s song, a lightning rod for media coverage from both left- and right-leaning media outlets and pundits (and which sparked the opening talking point in the first Republican presidential primary debate on Wednesday, Aug. 23), drew 17.5 million streams and sold 147,000 downloads in the U.S. in the tracking week ending Aug. 17.
In the past week, many media outlets have been wondering if country radio would get behind the breakout hit. Although the song is not being promoted to radio, at least yet, one programmer giving avid support is Bo Matthews, program director at Alpha Media’s KBAY, San Jose, Calif. It “simply sounds great on the radio,” he tells Billboard. With 32 plays, “Richmond” was the Country Airplay-reporting station’s 16th most played song Aug. 18-24.
“We haven’t gotten any negative feedback for playing it, and I think we are merely meeting the expectations of our listeners,” Matthews muses. “In fact, I have been impressed and proud of the positive feedback we’ve received from people in the industry and the record community expressing their thanks that we’re supporting it. Finally, it’s obvious that radio listeners are becoming the real gatekeepers for the music we decide to play.”
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