Fancy like a hit
28 January 2022-
There are very few stars, let alone overnight sensations. Walker Hayes, for one, was an overnight star — almost 20 years in the making...
If you discovered this song watching TV, it’s alright: Applebee’s ran the ad for months. And there’s a reason for that: “Fancy Like” is perhaps the best product placement in music of any kind in this millenium (so far)… But let’s rewind. Its author, country music veteran Walker Hayes, had been at it for a minute before any success came knocking at his door. As it happens, the man had been working in Nashville since the mid-2000’s as a songwriter before starting to release his own work back in 2010. Many singles, EPs and a couple of albums followed, garnering the man a certain status in the country world, but no proper breakout success.
Then covid hit, touring became impossible and Hayes was stuck at home with his wife and six children (six!) trying to work on new material. The story goes that he went to the studio one day to start working on a new song with fellow musicians. Noted songwriter Shane Stevens mistakenly dropped by as he was supposed to be working with somebody else the next day. The little group started shooting the sh*t, until the “fancy” theme came up. Apparently, the rest of the lyrics was written pretty swiftly by Hayes, who then recorded his vocals back at home. You can reportedly hear the sound of a nearby kitchen sink in the background: the track that ended up on the release was only supposed to be a demo…
Believing in the effortless charm of his down-to-earth everyman story, Hayes then had to fight with his record label to have the song not only out, but as a single. Surprisingly, talking about date night at Applebee’s with the mother of your six children is not typically what country labels — or any record labels for that matter — have in mind to try and make a splash on the airwaves. And they were right: the song was out, and that was it. Then, a funny thing happened, paradoxically thanks to covid: Hayes had been making a bunch of TikTok dance videos with his teenage daughter, because what else are you gonna do all day? A few days after “Fancy Like” was out, said daughter decided that song needed a dance, and the pair started working on purposefully corny steps to keep with the song’s candid vibe.
A few (more) days later, that video had been seen millions of times, radio stations started picking up the song, which eventually reached the top of the country charts, winning awards in the process and eventually making its way into that pretty obvious Applebee’s commercial… And, “just like that”, Walker Hayes became a household name, at the grand old age of 41. That Applebee’s deal was not even a done deal, by the way: he was the one who contacted the firm and suggested they use the song — twice. The moral of this story?
- Don’t be fancy;
- Never take no for an answer…