Bobby Bones Declares Himself The King of Country

photo: Zack Massey

Like a tinhorn despot looking to consolidate power by exacerbating a minor spat into an existential crisis, pop country radio personality Bobby Bones has used the Morgan Wallen ‘N’-bomb situation to declare himself the current King of Country. No, not just the king of popular country, or the king of country radio. But all of it. The entire genre. Everything. He is quote, “The Guy,” unquote. Apparently, that position isn’t held by an artist, past or present. Sorry George Strait. Not all of us as country fans and performers in a collective comprise the voice and conscience of country music. Nope, it’s just Bobby Bones. All hail.

On his syndicated radio show Wednesday morning (2-3), Bobby Bones addressed the Morgan Wallen situation in an obviously scripted scenario, even though it was set up to appear to be an impromptu answer to a caller. For the most part, what Bobby said was pretty smart and measured. His take that Morgan Wallen probably shouldn’t be banished forevermore, but definitely needs to go away for now and work on himself is a pretty good one.

“I like Morgan Wallen as a person. This, I don’t like one bit,” Bones said. “I’m also not a big cancel culture guy. But I do think I’m a ‘go away for a while’ guy. And if I think you’re not going to allow someone to take some time away and learn, I think you have some self-evaluation [to do]. He’s got a lot of self-evaluation to do, friends.”

But it was Bobby’s declaration that he is “The Guy” in country music that must speak on these matters—and when he does, the word is final—that even had many of Bobby’s own dedicated listeners looking sideways.

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown,” Bones declared in the middle of his Morgan Wallen decree. “Listen, I’m THE GUY. I get it. Right now, in this brief period of time, I am THE GUY in country music. That’s it. It’s not something I set out to do or be, as far as being THE GUY. But when something has to be said, comfortable or not, it’s me. I have to say it. From now until you guys remove my anointment, I have the biggest voice. I am THE GUY in country radio. I’m THE GUY in country music. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”

Along with illustrating Bobby’s arrogance and lack of self-awareness, the moment illustrates one of the underlying problems in this Morgan Wallen situation. We can poke fun of Bobby Bones all day long. And most certainly, he is not “The Guy” in country music, however you want to quantify that. But Bobby Bones is most certainly one of the guys that is directly responsible for the ascent of Morgan Wallen, and guys like him. Morgan was hanging out with Bobby in the studio just a couple of weeks ago, and has been one of the favorites of The Bobby Bones Show.

As the voice behind country music’s biggest radio show, Bobby Bones does have a major impact. It’s no coincidence that Bobby’s hire as iHeartRadio’s #1 country radio personality (even though he’d only worked in pop before) paralleled the ascent of Bro-Country, and the rapid descent of popular country music in recent years. And just like the rest of media inside and outside of country music, Bobby Bones ignored Morgan Wallen’s major red flags for months and years, helping to prop him up.

In the Bobby Bones address to the country music fiefdom, he said to Morgan Wallen specifically, “You make country music look bad. You make me look bad.” Most certainly Bobby Bones isn’t directly responsible for the Morgan Wallen outburst. It’s the entire country music system that ensconces characters like Morgan Wallen in the few and precious top tier positions of country music. And yes, he has made us look bad. Morgan Wallen’s N-bomb was the word that launched 1,000 think pieces about how the entire genre of country music is racist, and needs to be remade in the image of angry women from New York who will never be happy until the rest of us are as miserable as they are.

“I have people beat me up for everything,”
Bobby also says in the segment. Perhaps it’s because even in Bobby’s best of moments, he can’t help but veer into self-centeredness, including buying Billboards in Nashville to demean yourself to garner sympathy. His comments on Morgan Wallen were pretty good, and reasonable. But no, he’s not “The Guy.” Nobody’s “The Guy.” Country music is all of us: fans, artists, industry workers, big time DJs, and two-bit bloggers. And we should all take some responsibility for what happened with Morgan Wallen. And some should probably take more responsibility of others.

Thanks to the Florida Red Dirt Country Club for the tip.

(relevant quotes at about the 6:20 mark)

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