Country’s Rising Hitmakers: Morgan Wallen, HARDY & ERNEST 

Morgan Wallen, Hardy, and Ernest are arguably some of the top rising artists of today’s country music. Not only do they have outstanding vocals, but they also have incredible songwriting talent. Whether it’s a phone call in the grocery store or a sit-down session in the studio, these three Big Loud artists often find themselves writing together.

In 2021, Morgan Wallen dominated the country genre with the release of his sophomore album Dangerous: The Double Album. Much of the successful lyric crafting of these songs are credited to Morgan who co-wrote 18, Ernest who co-wrote 11, and Hardy who co-wrote 7, out of the 32 total songs (30 original tracks and 2 bonus tracks). In October of 2021, these three artists hit the road together to play a few shows before the holidays, setting attendance records nearly everywhere they went. Whether they are writing together or apart, each of them have been writing hits for years, not only for themselves but also for other artists. Let’s take a deeper look into their careers.


Ernest Keith Smith, better known by his stage name ERNEST, released his debut album back in 2019 titled Locals Only. This album consisted of 9 songs all co-written by him. Following that release, came a single called “Cheers” in 2020 and a single called “American Rust” in 2021. On top of releasing music of his own, Ernest has written plenty of songs for others, making a name for himself as a songwriter. So far, he has contributed to over 70 songs for himself and other artists such as Walker Hayes, Kane Brown, Chris Lane, and more. His number one co-writes include “More Than My Hometown” by Morgan Wallen, “Big Big Plans” by Chris Lane, “I Love My Country” by Florida Georgia Line, “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90s” by Sam Hunt, and “One Mississippi” by Kane Brown.

Now, Ernest is working hard to make a name for himself as an artist. Right before 2021 came to an end, Ernest released a duet with Morgan Wallen titled “Flower Shops.” Yet before this highly anticipated single was released, the two were performing it to crowds of over 30,000 and leaking it on social media. This resulted in the duet instantly becoming a fan favorite. When the song did come out, it debuted at #1 on the iTunes All-Genre Chart, #1 on both the USA and Global Spotify Top Songs Debut Chart, and #44 on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart, earning the breaker award. Ernest was also able to hear himself on the radio for the very first time as this song was the most added song of the week it impacted country radio.

Since then, Ernest has been taking to social media to share his studio time, share unreleased music, and has officially confirmed that his next album is finished. Just recently, he released three songs called “What It’s Come To,” “Some Other Bar,” and “Feet Wanna Run” all on the same day. On top of that, Ernest announced his second studio album, Flower Shops (The Album), will be an 11 track album being released on 3.11.22.

As for touring, he has been the opening act for Chris Lane’s Fill Them Boots Tour and will be joining him again for all 2022 March dates. In addition, fans can expect to see Ernest making surprise appearances throughout Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous Tour. He has already appeared at Morgan’s first sold-out Madison Square Garden show to sing their duet “Flower Shops.” 


Michael Hardy, better known for his last name, HARDY, has had lots of success mixing his love of rock and roll to form a bro-country sound. He has become one of the most popular new artists of country music and is arguably one of the best songwriters in the genre. Since 2018, Hardy has been releasing new music yearly. That year he released a 4-song EP titled This Ole Boy and released another 4-song EP in 2019 titled Where To Find Me.

Later that year, Hardy also introduced Hixtape Vol. 1, a joint album with himself and Hixtape, that is filled with features by country music’s biggest stars. This project consisted of 10 songs with 18 different artists. It also gave Hardy his first number one song as an artist with “One Beer.” In 2020, Hardy released his debut album titled A Rock, again consisting of 10 songs. Finally, in 2021, Hixtape Vol. 2 was born, this time doing things a little differently. This album was only a Hixtape album, where Hardy was a feature on 6 songs, allowing other artists to include these songs on their own albums. This project upgraded to 14 songs with 33 artists/bands.

Not only has Hardy been hard at work writing and recording for himself, but he has also co-written for various other artists, totaling over 100 songs he has been a part of. You can even find him featured in many of these songs. As a songwriter, Hardy takes great pride in writing every single song he has released as an artist. His hard work and dedication to songwriting have surely paid off as he has been nominated for ACM Songwriter of the Year for three consecutive years. Over the years he has written hits for many artists including Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Dallas Smith, and more. His number ones as a songwriter include “Gods Country” by Blake Shelton, “I Don’t Know About You” by Chris Lane, “Some Girls” by Jameson Rodgers, “More Than My Hometown” by Morgan Wallen, “One Big Country Song” by Locash, “Up Down” by Morgan Wallen, “Simple” by Florida Georgia Line, “Single Saturday Night” by Cole Swindell, and “Sand In My Boots” by Morgan Wallen. 

Writt-en By Wall-en

As mentioned before, Morgan Wallen’s fame and success skyrocketed like no other throughout 2021. Thanks to his fans/supporters, Dangerous: The Double Album broke records and received the Billboard honor of being the number one album of 2021. In addition, Morgan is arguably the most wanted performer as he has nearly sold out all 54 dates of his 2022 Dangerous Tour with Hardy, Larry Fleet, and unannounced help. As well as writing a fairly good portion of his own music, Morgan has also written songs for Jason Aldean, Lil Durk, and Walker Montgomery.

Before Morgan became one of country music’s biggest superstars, he was auditioning for season 6 of The Voice, landing on Team Usher. On The Voice, Morgan auditioned with the song “Collide” and luckily Shakira and Usher turned their chairs. He went on to advance in the first battle round but was eliminated in the second. Luckily, Adam decided to steal him, which meant that Morgan would now be competing on his team. His Voice journey ended in the playoff round where he was eliminated. Looking back on this experience, Morgan sure is thankful that he was eliminated because it allowed him to seek a vocal coach and rediscover his sound.

In 2015, he released a 5-song EP titled Stand Alone. In 2016, he released three singles called “Stand Out,” “Chain Smokin’,” and “American Nights.” Soon enough it was time for Morgan to release his 14-song debut album titled If I Know Me, which includes the number one song that launched his career, “Whiskey Glasses.” In addition to his songs “Whiskey Glasses,” “Up Down,” “Chasin’ You,” “More Than My Hometown,” and “Sand In My Boots” all reaching number one, he has also co-written Jason Aldean’s number one hit “You Make It Easy.” Furthermore, Morgan Wallen had his first rap collaboration with Lil Durk’s “Broadway Girls,” a song that was co-written by both him and Ernest. This song went on to debut at number one on five different Billboard charts. Morgan has already successfully kicked off his massive Dangerous Tour and will be headlining a plethora of festivals this year. 

Friends Forever 

Whether these three are writing, recording, touring, or just having fun, they have become best friends, sharing loads of fond memories together. Since quarantine, they have picked up a new enjoyment for golf. Now that things are opening back up, they have been hitting the road, performing for sold-out crowds all over the country. The future is bright for these Big Loud boys, with many more hits to come. Be sure to check out the Apple Music playlists that are filled with the songs written by each artist (links below).


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