Holler Country Music
lists

The Top 10 Viral Moments in Country 2023

December 12, 2023 2:00 pm GMT

t-logo
f-logo
email logo
link icon

Link copied

Content Sponsor

The world feels so enormous sometimes, it’s easy to feel emotionally disconnected from other people. We’re all so busy doing our own thing in our own little bubbles that we forget how important shared experiences are in bringing people together.

Thankfully we still have those moments when we do come together. When we all enjoy exactly the same thing as each other at exactly the same time. The internet is a crowded place that floods us with information every second of the day, but sometimes we stumble upon something so incredible that we click the “share” button and send it on to our friends and loved ones without even thinking.

These are the moments that unite us: the clips that we watch over and over again; the posts that we @ our friends on; the memes that say, “Look at this! I found this funny and think you will find it funny too because I love you!”

These are the moments when it felt like, wherever we were, we were all laughing at the same joke or crying at the same song for once. When we all felt less alone together.

From topping the charts to run-ins with the law, star-studded half-time shows to embarrassing stage stacks, country music was making all the headlines this year.

We take a look back on 10 of the biggest viral moments in country throughout 2023 - the hilarious, the impressive and the downright weird. Something for us all to share.

1

THE Mug Shot

Zach Bryan's mugshot plastering the tabloids was a surreal thing to wake up to on the morning of September 8th, and the consequential support and ridicule that followed on social media even more so.

Bryan's arrest for the obstruction of a law enforcement officer after interfering in the pulling over of his security detail was immediately subject to either messages of guidance or sneering jibes - particularly from the homies who resented his backtracking on ever working with Ticketmaster again. "Cops saw the ticket prices", one commenter stated on Instagram.

This is probably the sort of behaviour a few had in mind when they exclaimed that Outlaw was back. Sort of weird to think of some sad boi country fan in 30 years having Zach Bryan's mugshot on a canvas in their toilet like Johnny cash, mind.

- Ross Jones

2

Country Takes Over the Hot 100

Country music reigned supreme in 2023 as the genre's new class of superstars were ushered in in a big way.

Starting with Morgan Wallen's 'Last Night', which sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 for 16 nonconsecutive weeks (and broke the record for most weeks at No. 1 as a non-collaboration), the chart saw plenty of others make its way to the No. 1 spot, including Jason Aldean's 'Try That In A Small Town', Oliver Anthony's 'Rich Men North of Richmond' and Zach Bryan's 'I Remember Everything' with Kacey Musgraves.

All four of these were back-to-back-to-back-to-back No. 1s, which has never happened in the history of the chart.

There were plenty of other country entries on the Hot 100 this year, from Luke Combs' 'Fast Car' and Tyler Childers 'In Your Love' to Warren Zeiders 'Pretty Little Poison' and Hailey Whitters' 'Everything She Ain't' among many others.

A little food for thought: this summer, Billboard reported that country music consumption in the US increased by over 20% year-over-year in the first half of 2023. That's up from a mere 2.5% in the same period in 2022.

- Lydia Farthing

3

Everyone's Going Up the Country

Country got all the love in 2023, as a shit-ton of artists flocked eagerly over from their own genres to snatch up a cheeky slice of the pie.

From Post Malone's viral introduction at the CMA Awards with HARDY and Morgan Wallen, Hozier popping up here there and everywhere, Bon Iver joining forces with Zach Bryan or Lana Del Rey covering 'Take Me Home, Country Roads', everyone was craving a nice little trip out to the country.

All were, of course, welcomed with open arms. It's a promising sign for the genre; the crossovers offering further growth and extended fanbases. Keep those collabs comin'!

- Ciara Bains

4
Lainey Wilson accepts the award for Entertainer of the Year at the 2023 CMA Awards.

Lainey Wilson Wins CMA Entertainer of the Year Award

The 2023 CMA Awards were rife with surprises, shocks and celebration, all of which culminated at the end of the night when Lainey Wilson was crowned the CMA Entertainer of the Year.

Seeing as she served as support on fellow nominee and outgoing Entertainer of the Year Luke Combs' 2023 touring venture and will be doing the same for Morgan Wallen in 2024, it was a bit of an unexpected win.

However, as the most nominated with nine nods, it was no surprise that she emerged the most decorated. Wilson also secured awards for Album of the Year (Bell Bottom Country) and Female Vocalist of the Year, as well as Musical Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year for her and HARDY's duet, ‘wait in the truck’.

- Lydia Farthing

5

Oliver Anthony & the Rise of Bloke-Folk

Considering the amount of lads with beards playing acoustic guitars in forests there are out there, you can't help but question the true reason behind Oliver Anthony's instantaneous rise to fame.

Regardless of the conspiracy theories and politics, 'Rich Men North of Richmond''s sudden explosion from budget recording on Radio WV to No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 was the catalyst to something that's been brewing since Zach Bryan posted his first sweaty recording on Instagram.

Bloke-folk has arrived. Let's see how long it stays.

- Ross Jones

6

NFL Goes Country

From the moment Stapleton brought Nick Sirianni and the rest of us to tears with his rendition of the 'Star Spangled Banner' at Super Bowl LVII, the M.O. was laid out - country was on the offensive.

Whether it was Dolly dazzling in her full Cowboys cheerleader outfit or The War And Treaty raising a revival for the Thanksgiving opener at the Vikings, country was at the forefront of the nation's favourite sport.

Even Monday night's game was packed full of country soundtracking the FOOTBALL - we didn't expect to hear Thomas Rhett and Maren Morris croon 'Craving You' as Patrick Mahomes moaned his way off the field, but here we are.

After all, country is cool again, right?

- Ross Jones

7

End of the Mullet

Morgan Wallen may've achieved record-breaking success and history-making levels of stardom this year, but we can take or leave that. What really rocked the world was the riddance of his (somehow legendary) mullet.

Fans took to socials to express their shock horror and despair at the savage shave, one claiming it to be like "the most traumatic breakup ever".

We can't decide what's more ridiculous - the fact that this was even news or the weird little moustache that remains.

Regardless, the only glow up we care about is Tyler Childers'... ;)

- Ciara Bains

8

Kelsea Ballerini... Heartbreak Sells

There's nothing scarier than a love-scorned woman, and let's face it... Kelsea Ballerini went off in 2023.

After revealing (and ending) her failed marriage to Australian country bro, Morgan Evans, she aired out all her grievances in the form of a surprise EP called Rolling Up the Welcome Mat and we couldn't get enough of it.

Our favorite Valentine's Day in history came and passed in 2023 and our country-pop queen gifted us with six songs for screaming and crying (use your own discretion), as well an extra one and a couple revisited in August on the extended For Good edition.

If we were reminded of anything this year it's that heartbreak sells, baby... but we are looking forward to Ballerini's next musical chapter which she's kindly started teasing in the last few weeks of 2023!

- Lydia Farthing

9

Ernest Takes A Trip

In July, Ernest Keith Smith gifted us the true creme-de-la-creme of stacking it.

On stage at Bush Stadium in St. Louis as support on Morgan Wallen's One Night At A Time Tour, Ernest had just performed his smash hit 'Flower Shops'. As he threw flowers into the crowd, the singer got a little too close to the edge and proceeded to fly off, promptly smacking into the guard rail below.

The consummate performer that the guy is, he jumped right up, dusted off his leather biker vest and celebrated with the crowd - still cementing himself into folklore alongside Gemma Collins and Madonna for truly classic stage falls.

- Ross Jones

10

Maren Quits Country

Since her groundbreaking, award-nominated 2019 record, GIRL, Maren Morris has been... quiet.

After a lack of commercial performance with 2022's Humble Quest and a relatively quiet 2023, aside from touring with The Chicks and a few appearances here and there, 'The Bones' hitmaker proclaimed her formal exit from country music during an interview with the LA Times in September.

To accompany the announcement, she released a pair of new, biting songs – 'The Tree' and 'Get The Hell Out of Here' – both of which were the most country sounding tracks that she's released in the better part of five years...

The memes (and mean comments) kept coming and they don't stop coming, but all we can hope for is another Zedd collab in 2024.

- Lydia Farthing

For more End of Year lists from Holler, check out the below:

Written by Ross Jones
Content Sponsor
Artist - George Strait 2
lists

ESSENTIALSThe Best Country Song Lyrics

Holler Country Music
lists

GUIDEA Guide To: What Is Americana?

Bob Dylan
lists

ESSENTIALSThe Best Bob Dylan Country Songs

Artist - Lucinda Williams 2
lists

ESSENTIALSLucinda Williams Albums - Ranked