HARDY on-stage looking into the camera

HARDY Says Chris Stapleton and Luke Combs are the Reasons Bro-Country Ended

January 24, 2024 10:52 am GMT
Last Edited February 6, 2024 9:11 am GMT

email logo
link icon

Link copied

Content Sponsor

HARDY has cited Chris Stapleton and Luke Combs as the two artists that diverted the genre away from the so-called ‘Bro-Country’ era of the late 2000s and 2010s.

The ‘QUIT!!’ singer-songwriter appeared on Troy Cartwright's Ten Year Town podcast, during which he made the amusing comparison between Bro-Country and WWE, “Bro-Country was like a professional wrestler era....every single was their theme song”.

He went on to explain, “Everybody was fit and good looking, and that was your thing, and then the moment for me that it changed was when Chris Stapleton sang on-stage with Justin Timberlake”, referencing the duo's famous 2015 CMA Awards performance.

Many critics and commentators dub Luke Combs as the artist that brought an end to Bro-Country, but HARDY underlined that Stapleton's influence is often understated, “I love Luke Combs. Everybody says it’s Luke but I swear to God, I think it was Stapleton before Luke because he was the first dude that was popping off and had a completely different sound…It pivoted for the first time in...five, six, seven years”.

Bro-Country is used as the - generally negative - title for the brand of music pioneered by the likes of Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton.

Artists looked towards the likes of Hip Hop, Rock and R&B to bring new energy and electricity to their songs, but the subject matter was criticised by many for being superficial, revolving around tropes of parties, women in Daisy Dukes, beer-chugging and more. Additionally, the key proponents of Bro-Country had to fit a certain image, something HARDY credits Chris Stapleton and Luke Combs as changing.

HARDY shared how this helped to expand the genre, “Dude, to me, [Stapleton] immediately broke the mould of what you have to look like. Then, two or three years later, Combs came out, and it just busted wide open with a bunch of normal-ass looking dudes...and all of us were like, ‘Fuck yeah! I can get a record deal now’”.

During his 2023 interview with Joe Rogan, Luke Combs expressed a similar appreciation for Stapleton and Timberlake's CMA Awards duet, “I think Chris Stapleton singing ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ with Justin Timberlake at the CMAs was an earth-shattering moment for country music... that opened the door up for guys like myself to pursue a career…somebody who didn’t look like every other guy in town”.

Troy Cartwright and HARDY's discussion is particularly insightful given the fact that the latter was a regular writer for Florida Georgia Line during their last two albums, as well as being Morgan Wallen's go-to songsmith from the start of his career. Wallen's early sound drew heavily from Bro-Country figureheads such as FGL and Jason Aldean.

While Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake's CMA Awards set was undoubtedly pivotal for Music City, it feels like HARDY's own CMA performance last year with Morgan Wallen and Post Malone will be looked back upon as a game-changing moment for the genre, as more Pop and Hip Hop artists look to venture into country.

For more on HARDY, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
Content Sponsor
Artist - HARDY 10

HARDY Catapults into Next Music Era with New Song & Tour

Single - HARDY - QUIT!!

'QUIT!!' by HARDY - Lyrics and Meaning

Dylan Marlowe performing live on tour

Exclusive: Dylan Marlowe Talks Touring with HARDY, Lainey Wilson and Morgan Wallen

Artist - Brian Kelley 3

Exclusive: Brian Kelley Reveals He Wanted to Keep Florida Georgia Line Going Alongside Solo Career