Perhaps there’s never been an individual inhabiting the Earth that has felt more safe and happy in the enveloping arms of corporate America while suckling off the industry teat of high fructose corn syrup than Walker Hayes.
This fucker has purposely allowed himself to become synonymous with Applebee’s, a.k.a. the Destroyer of Worlds when it comes to locally owned eateries. Forget having no shame. Walker Hayes actively leans into being a corporate shill.
So a couple of weeks ago, Zach Bryan tweeted out his surprise that despite all of Tyler Childers’ popularity, the first time Childers ever charted in the Top 50 of country music’s mainstream radio charts was the second week of 2024 with his current single “In Your Love.”
Zach Bryan tweeted, “‘First ever’ is fuckn insane, one of the best songwriters to ever do it.” And then later, “Imagine being radio (whoever the hell that is), hearing Shake the Frost and being like ‘no no let’s go with the Applebees song’.”
This prompted Walker Hayes of “Fancy Like” fame to respond, “Big shout to radio for playing dat Applebees song. Zach and Tyler praying y’alls continued success.”
Even in the Walker Hayes response, he can’t help but lick the ass of corporate country radio because he knows who his master is. Walker Hays has no “fans.” There are simply people who scantly pay attention to his music as it’s shoved down their gullet by mainstream country radio as they sit in a traffic jam. Even the people who find guilty pleasure in the Applebee’s song don’t admit to that in polite society. It would be like picking your nose at a board meeting.
Though a bunch of websites rushed to print spreads about the “controversy” between Zach Bryan and Walker Hayes at the time, it really amounted to a popcorn fart of an interaction. Even the fights in mainstream country music suck these days. A corporate shill dud and a soft-hearted Millennial going at it is like watching a bout of patty cake between two school girls. What happened to stuff like Toby Keith vs. The [Dixie] Chicks? Now that was a donnybrook worth popping up some ol’ Orville Redenbacher for.
So after the initial X/Twitter interaction between Walker Hayes and Zach Bryan, it seemed that everyone had moved on with their lives. But then in all of his infinite wisdom, Walker Hayes thought it would be a good use of his time to write and record a supposed “diss track” to Zach Bryan.
If nothing else, you’ve got to give Walker Hayes credit for being on brand. Some music outlets were characterizing the track as a “scratch track” to an upcoming song. No, this is the kind of shit Walker Hayes releases as actual music—slapdashed shitty lyricism over the most simplistic electronically-generated MIDI beats.
This is a fully formed song in the Walker Hayes universe. Where most actual musicians reach for the legal pad and pencil when in the throes of an emotional moment and filled with the muse to write a song, Walker Hayes grabs an Oreo Shake from Applebee’s and amid a sugar high, hits “New Project” on his laptop and comes up with something your cat walking across a keyboard could compose better. The lyrics don’t even rhyme. It’s easier to find a clean table at a Starbucks than it is anything resembling even a modicum of substance or creativity in a Walker Hayes song.
Walker Hayes. Seriously, dude. When trying to compose a clapback, for God’s sake, don’t bring up Jesus like the dork you are. Get rude. Insult Zach Bryan’s family. Tell him he looks like that fat kid from the Home Improvement show back in the ’90s, who by the way, IS NAMED ZACH BRYAN TOO. Tell him his music is a mess and needs a producer. Don’t go asking, “What Would Jesus Do?”
I’m sure Walker Hayes is a great guy, a great father to his 14 kids or however many he has, and that he smells terrific. But seriously, count the millions you’ve made off of your shitty songs and corporate brand deals, and leave the dissing to the pros.
Sure, Jesus Chris taught about forgiveness and turning the other cheek. But the other thing Jesus did was drive the merchants out of the temple where they didn’t belong, and overturn the tables of the greedy.
Someone needs to compose the ditties for the detached and disinterested fans of “music.” But in the holy temple of country, it should be the devout and those filled with country music’s spirit that should be allowed to enter. Not genre-bending, corporate name-dropping hacks.
Let the others have their all-you-can-eat boneless wings at Applebee’s for a limited time.