“South of the Dirty South” Brantley Gilbert and Jelly Roll Changed the Game

            We are the #1 outlaw page in country music. We just made Whiskey Riff cry themselves to sleep, and now I am declaring this page #1. We don’t yet have the numbers, but we have the attitude. As a result of the events from the past few days, we are being heavily watched. Every day I look and see another page, or another “country influencer” is viewing my shit. People I used to dream of doing content with now have eyes on me. It’s too bad because most of them hate me now, they think I’m a wild card. This truth of the matter is I’m really not. I called out some bullshit and the people who made an entire brand around calling out other people’s bullshit couldn’t handle it. They blocked me, sent me a very rude message that quickly got unsent, and told all their buddies that I’m a terrible person.

I don’t care if any of these aforementioned “influencers” want to work with me anymore. They are more than welcome to reach out, but there are only two groups of people in this “country music page war:” either your on my side or your in my way. This article isn’t about that though, and as far as I’m concerned, the war is over and I’ve won it. This article is about another outlaw, one with a much bigger following and cultural relevancy than I am right now. On the day that my war started, Brantley Gilbert did something I never imagined I would ever see a mainstream country artist do.

First if you haven’t yet, go listen to “Son of the Dirty South” by Brantley Gilbert. Don’t even leave the page, just click play below.

 It’s a fucking jam. If you don’t know who the other guy is in the video, and if you’re reading this you probably do, but let me introduce you to Jelly Roll. For those of you who don’t know the story of Jelly Roll, its fucking insane. If you have time watch this video, or go listen to the podcast, I promise you it’s worth it. If you don’t have time, skip to the next paragraph and I’ll give you a very brief and undetailed summary.

Jelly Roll was born in Antioch, a Nashville suburb known for being rough. A lot of people are products of where they grow up, and for a long time Jelly Roll was no exception. Heavy drugs, and jail time were a common theme for him growing up. However, Jelly Roll knew he wanted better for himself. He began rapping, and through collaborations with other Tennessee rappers, he grew his following into millions of people. Since then, he has been able to straighten out his life, now has a family, and wants to use his well-earned fame and fortune to show kids in prison they can make it in this world. He is proud of where he is from and instead of turning his back on it, he is embracing it and trying to make a difference.

            It really is an amazing story, but that’s not what this article is about either. This is about how he grinded his way onto a song with Brantley Gilbert. Brantley Gilbert has always been an outlaw with a bit of a soft side. His discography bounces between rebellious party songs like “Kick it in the Sticks” to softer more emotional songs like “Bad Boy.” He very rarely sings songs that the average radio listener will appreciate because he isn’t pop country. His music probably belongs on heavy rock/metal radio than anything. Yet his themes relate to those who did grow up in the country. Think of him as of a better version of Jason Aldean who didn’t sell out.

            Brantley is at a fork in his career it feels like. He hasn’t had a successful radio hit since “What Happens in a Small Town” back in 2019. His song “Hard Days” which felt like a monster to me, stalled out in the high 20s. His last album “Fire and Brimstone” was ok but compared to his other music it felt like a miss. I think Brantley might be at the end of his country music radio days. But does he need country radio? Until recently, an artist named Eric Church didn’t have much radio success, and he is one of the biggest names in the genre. Brantley has a monster following of very loyal fans. He sells out the biggest venues in the country still, I’m not sure compiling more #1 songs need to be his priority anymore.

            Instead, he should do exactly what he is doing. Gilbert has put out 5 songs over the past year. “The Worst Country Song of All Time,” “Gone But Not Forgotten,” “How to Talk to Girls,” “Rolex on a Redneck” and “Son of the Dirty South.” Each song speaks to a different part of his audience. None of the songs have gone viral or anything, but they each serve a purpose. At this point Gilbert should just drop an entire album including these songs and call it the “Redneck Tapes.” They don’t have to serve as radio singles, just let the fans have them on their playlists and jam to them.

This approach has done something, likely unintentional, but it still has given Country Rap legitimateness. It no longer is just a underground subgenre that Music Row can ignore. The world has produced its first mainstream star in Jelly Roll. Does Adam Calhoun follow and hop on a Jason Aldean song? Probably not… but all the sudden its possible. Honestly a song of Jason Aldean and Calhoun rapping about gun rights would be insane, but it will NEVER happen. Does Upchurch come out and rap on a Justin Moore song? Again, not likely, but it feels possible now. Big Machine Records released a song with Jelly Roll on it. Maybe I’m making more of a deal of this situation than it is, but it feels like a genre changer.

            Now don’t misread what I’m saying, Brantley isn’t the first mainstream country artists to work with a country rapper. Clay Walker and Upchurch did “For a Little While” together in 2020. Craig Campbell and Demun Jones did “Take Me Back” in 2019. The difference though is Craig wasn’t on a major label, and Clay’s peak was the 90’s. In my opinion neither moved the needle as much as “Son of the Dirty South” will. This song put Music Row in Nashville on notice that Country Rap has finally arrived.

            Jelly Roll is having himself a year. Not only is he on this song, but his song “Son of a Sinner” is rapidly moving up the country charts. In just 16 weeks (at the time of writing this article) the song sits at 23 on the country charts. That’s a pace faster than established artists like Gabby Barrett, Lee Brice, and Zac Brown Band. What is the secret to this rapid rise into country? Simple, “Son of a Sinner” is simply the BEST country song that has come out in a long ass time. It’s very raw, its painful, its truthful. This isn’t a song that can get written in a writer’s room. This is a song that your soul truly has to be hurt to write. It makes other country songs sound manufactured because you can hear Jelly’s past pain in his singing.

If that isn’t enough to prove his talents, it doesn’t stop there. He just topped the rock charts with his song “Dead Man Walking” in early 2022. I’m not sure if an artist has ever had 2 different songs that both go #1 in 2 different genres off the same album before. If it has, I’ve never heard of it. If you’re the type of person whose idea of country is listening to Walker Hayes while drinking an overpriced fruity drink at the club, you probably don’t know Jelly Roll. But he’s about to change country music forever.

            I started this article out talking about outlaws. People who act all tough but can’t take pushback. The truth of the matter is that only history can tell us who the outlaws are. Will Beats Beer Bonfires actually go down as the #1 outlaw country music page ever? You never know I guess. Does Brantley Gilbert releasing a song with Jelly Roll truly make him an outlaw when Jelly Roll is already closing in on the top of the country radio chart? Clearly in my mind it does, but we won’t know until we see what happens next. But outlaws are having a moment. Adam Calhoun, and Upchurch, my eyes are on you next, because a movement is happening, and I’ll be watching every second of it.

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New Music Roundup

           Due to Covid, 2020 pretty much didn’t see any music released. Artists like Hardy still pushed an album out, and other artists like Dustin Lynch released music right before the pandemic that pretty much was just lost. 2021 has been the complete opposite, as everyone seemingly everyone has released new music. Alan Jackson, Chris Young, Clay Walker, Florida Georgia Line are among dozens of artists with new albums this year. The end of 2021 and 2022 will continue to see that trend, with many artists releasing new singles from upcoming albums. With that being said, let’s look at artists that should be releasing music within the next few months.

Brantley Gilbert 

           Sitting on his latest single, “Worst Country Song of All Time,” Brantley, Hardy, and Toby Keith are grinding up the charts as we speak. The single is the first off his upcoming project, and hopefully, we see it by the end of the year. “Fire and Brimstone” will be two years old in October, a good indication that it will be replaced with fresh music very soon. “Brimstone” didn’t reach the level of success of some of Brantley’s past albums, with songs like “Fire’s Up” not making it past the mid-’40s and “Hard Day’s” dying in the high 20’s. It did breed “What Happens in a Small Town” being a number one, but that song won’t go down as a favorite of Brantley Gilbert’s biggest fans. 

           I’m not sure if Brantley will still try for radio success or if he might transition to just making music for his fans. I’d like to see him go back to his rock roots a little more, making music that sounds closer to Lynyrd Skynyrd than George Strait is his bread and butter. I’ll always buy his shit, though, so I’m excited to see what happens with his next album whenever it comes out. 

Cody Johnson

           October 8th is the day! “Human: The Double Album” will finally be released. To date, nine songs from the album have already been released, ranging from classic Cody Johnson jams such as “Til You Can’t” to slower, more meaningful songs like “God Bless the Boy.” It also features the legend Willie Nelson on “Sad Songs and Waltzes.” Like Brantley Gilbert, Cody’s last album “Ain’t Nothin’ to It” came out in 2019 and spawned three singles, with “On My Way to You” reaching the low teens, “Nothin’ on You” and “Dear Rodeo” both dying in the ’40s. 

           Like Brantley Gilbert, Cody Johnson isn’t out there trying to make radio country music. If Gilbert is Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnson is George Strait. He makes very traditional country music, proudly repping his Texas roots and mixing traditional country sounds with modern-day storylines and relatability. I would argue that Johnson is the most underrated artist in modern music. Hopefully, “Human” can be Cody’s huge radio breakthrough, and he can start country music’s renaissance. Still, even if not, it will be a fantastic album that his fans will truly enjoy.   

Cole Swindell

           Cole Swindell, for me, is something of a guilty pleasure. I admit that he is basically just a Jr. version of Luke Bryan, but I just like the guy for some reason. I get excited when he releases new music, and a new album has to be coming soon. “Single Saturday Night” finally topped the charts recently, after about a year and a half. His new single is “Some Habits,” a slow ballet where he talks about how some habits can’t change from being single to being in a relationship. It’s a good song, not my favorite, but it seems like it’s trying to be the opposite of “Break Up in the End.” Two singles recently usually mean that an album is on the way. I’m willing to bet early quarter one of 2022 will be the release of it. 

Dierks Bentley 

           This will be an interesting case; what will Dierks Bentley do with his new album? He basically is on record saying that he released “Gone” to stay relevant in these weird musical times. “Beers On Me” is his current single, featuring Hardy and Breland, and will probably make its way to the top of the charts. What makes this interesting is that I don’t think Dierks cares to release a radio country-friendly album; I think he wants to do another bluegrass album. He released the live album “Live from Telluride,” which features “Pride (In the Name of Love),” which he does as bluegrass. 

           “The Mountain” was released way back in 2018, so Dierks is due for a new album. With his second single climbing, I would expect any day for a preorder to come up. I just hope that he makes the album he wants, not the one that the record label tells him to make. Dierks Bentley has grinded to being one of the top names in country music very quietly. I think Dierks will fade much better than artists like Luke Bryan will; he makes more timeless music that mixes relevancy and reflection of who Dierks really is. 

Hardy

           Hardy is about to change country music. 33 artists, 14 songs, 14 weeks, one album. Mixtape Vol. 2 is here. Almost every artist who is remotely relevant is on this album. Highlighted by Brantley Gilbert, Justin Moore, Dierks Bentley, David Lee Murphy, Jon Pardi, and of course Ernest and Morgan Wallen, this album is going to be fucking insane. Hardy is literally taking over country music right now. My man has fifteen songs on country radio that he wrote, two features with Dierks and Brantley, and his own single climbing. He writes everything for everyone. 

           Hardy has to be on cloud nine right now. He recently got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Caleigh. He is opening for Jason Aldean on his “Back in the Saddle” tour, and everything he touches turns to gold. I don’t think he’s going to slow down either in 2022, as he will get his second number one with “Give Heaven Some Hell” and hopefully a third with another song off “A Rock.” 

Jason Aldean

           “If I Didn’t Love You” with Carrie Underwood is going to be a smash. Aldean knows that he can pretty much release anything and have it be a number one, but he also knows what his fans want. He usually stays in his lane with a big guitar sound and rocking songs. I would expect more of the same on this next album. The next album will also be his tenth career album, a massive accomplishment for the artist of the decade for the 2010s. I think the artists that came out in the late 2000s are doing something cool and teaming up a little bit more. Aldean, Underwood, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert are all a part of that generation who know they are the cream of the crop and taking advantage as they know their best days are probably behind them. 

Justin Moore

           2021 will go down as a massive year for Justin Moore. He now has ten career number ones as “We Didn’t Have Much” topped the charts. He released “Straight Outta the Country,” an absolute smash record, even if the numbers don’t necessarily back that. He already announced a new single from a new album that will probably drop in 2022 as well. Moore is touring arenas right now all over the country. While I don’t see him jumping up to the level of popularity as Luke Bryan, I think he has a chance to have even longer-term success if he stays in his lane and keeps doing what he’s doing right now. I could see him going down as someone on the same level as Tracy Lawrence, someone who had an excellent career with a few all-time great songs but maybe overshadowed by George Strait and Alan Jackson for most of his career. He just got onto “Mixtape Vol. 2” with Hardy, which speaks to the state of his career right now as well. He can be the “country guy” in a time where pop is ruling the country airwaves. 

Thomas Rhett

           Another guy with a double album on the way, Rhett, released “Country Again (Side A)” was released early in the summer. He hinted that “Side B” will be out before the end of the year, and “Redneck Be Like” has been released as a single. “Side A” was his best album ever, so hopefully, “Side B” is more of the same. “Be Like” is much poppier than anything on the first side, but if you can get over the fact that it isn’t the next great country song, it’s actually fun to listen to. I think “Side B” will produce more great music, and Thomas Rhett might be angling himself to be one of the faces of country music for a long time with Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs. 

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10 Artists Upchurch Should Team Up With

Obviously, it’s been no secret that Upchurch has made it his life mission to take down mainstream country. However, he had massive success teaming up with a country legend in Clay Walker. This got me thinking, who are other artists that Upchurch could team up with that would not only benefit him, but benefit both artists? I tried to pick artists who are wild cards or outlaws. Artists who failed at making it into the traditional country mold or have similar followings to Upchurch. Here are my picks.

10. Tyler Farr

            Tyler Farr came on strong, with “Redneck Crazy,” “Whiskey in My Water,” and “A Guy Walks into a Bar.” Then his career sort of went the wrong direction, and he hasn’t had a hit since. The thing with Farr though is that despite not having radio success in almost ten years, he still is relatively relevant. Currently he is on Night Train Records, Jason Aldean’s label under the Broken Bow umbrella. That might stop this from ever happening, but let’s look at why it could be good.

            Tyler Farr already has appeared on multiple songs with Colt Ford. “Chicks, Trucks, Beer” was on his first album, and “My Truck” was on Colt Ford’s “Love Hope Faith” album. Upchurch is definitely a less PC version of Ford, so it would be a step further than that sort of clean rap, but instead of fighting to be relevant to an entire country maybe try to become relevant in a new lane. Tyler Farr has always come across to me as a real redneck, so why not join Upchurch and appeal to that crowd?

9. Trey Lewis

            Anyone ever hear of “Dicked Down in Dallas?” Listen, if Trey Lewis can turn his success from this song into long term radio success, then good for him. But there isn’t much precedent for viral songs like this to the artist into radio success long term, but never say never. However, if Trey Lewis doesn’t make it on radio, why not dip back into what made him famous? Lewis and Upchurch in a room together could lead to hilarious music. “Dallas” will make Lewis have a career in music forever if he wants it, but I think aligning with underground country rap would help him with peak popularity.

8. Florida Georgia Line

            This will probably never happen, just saying it up front. However, the band that lead Nelly to put out a “country” EP could lead the charge in bringing country rap truly mainstream. I also think there’s a chance that Upchurch wouldn’t want to work with FGL, so that dynamic would be interesting, but I think they could make some magic. Imagine the heat that Upchurch could bring to “Cruise” if he was on it instead of Nelly. Just let that set in. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think this would be a sick combo.

7. Trace Adkins

            If it wasn’t for his newest album, Trace wouldn’t be on the list. However, since then he has released music with both Pitbull and Snoop Dogg. Trace has been a polarizing figure in country music for much of his career, but I don’t think he really gives a shit. “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” is a song that will forever live in infamy as one of the weirdest jams in country music history. What does Trace have to lose by teaming with Upchurch?

            It would actually be perfect. Upchurch would gain because he would get another legit huge name on one of his songs. Although it isn’t Alan Jackson like he might prefer, Trace is a respected name that never really had his “countryness” doubted. It might be worth it for the two to go in together on a song.

6. Josh Thompson

            Thompson never really had radio success as an artist, but for anyone who knows his music, its fucking fantastic. I honestly think of him as Morgan Wallen, just ten years to early. After trying hard and being disrespected, he gave up and went into song writing. Recent songs to his credit include “One Margarita” “Drowns the Whiskey” “I’ll Name the Dogs” and “Ain’t Always the Cowboy” among many other hits. I think that he could write a good ole hit with Upchurch, something that mixes “Black Sheep” with some of his more country songs. Josh Thompson isn’t the household name that some of the other people on the list are, but I think the quality of this song would be better than anyone.

5. Kid Rock

            This is where the list turns into artists, I think who would be cool to team with Church to artists that I actually could see making it happen. Imagine the guy who helped get Morgan Wallen in trouble one time teaming with the guy who publicly said the Morgan Wallen drama was a bunch of bullshit. The guy who has been in trouble with the media at least 1,000 times, yet still has one of the best bars in the entire city of Nashville. The guy has a song called “Bawitdaba” where the first minute and a half he just yells his name. He also did the exact same thing Church did, going from rap to rock to country. He had a few hits like “All Summer Long” and “Picture.” I think a night of Upchurch and Kid Rock together would be great for Instagram as well. I think the rap song that would come out of these guys coming together would be fucking amazing.

4. Wheeler Walker Jr.

            This combination would be absolutely electric. The guy behind the songs, “Fuck You Bitch,” “Drop ‘Em Out” and “Eatin’ Pussy/Kickin’ Ass” combining with the guy behind songs like “Rolling Stoned.” I can only imagine what type of music would come out of these two smoking a bunch of weed and writing together. Wheeler Walker hasn’t had music out in a few years now, and, his next album will probably get him canceled the day its released, but it’ll be fantastic. The best thing about these guys is that they don’t give a shit about cancel culture. They aren’t trying to be offensive to anyone, but they don’t have a filter either and will say exactly what they feel. They are almost uncancelable however because of that, they are just going to keep coming back.

3. Craig Campbell

            I really think this is going to happen, and I think I created this if it does. Craig Campbell is the definition of having bad luck in his music career, yet he has managed to stay relevant because of his talent. His song “Keep them Kisses Coming” was on its way to #1 when his record label abruptly closed, and the song dropped off the chart. A few years later he released “Outskirts of Heaven” which was easily the best song of 2016, yet the radio deemed it “to country” and it didn’t gain radio traction.

            Backed by a new investor, Campbell has the freedom to pave his own career path. His new song “Never Mine” was sent to radio, but unfortunately since radio is just a bullshit record label game, it probably won’t get the airtime it deserves. Recently, Campbell teamed with Cypress Spring and Demun Jones on the song “Take Me Back” which is a fantastic country rap song. Campbell has done a number of other features on underground artists like Kristen Kelly and Justin Lee Partin.

            So why should an Upchurch combo come as a result of this? Upchurch recently teamed with another artist that feels like he is similar to Campbell at this stage of his career in Clay Walker. Walker had a few number ones in the 90s, and has had a fantastic career, but his newer music doesn’t sell the same as it did in his prime. I think Campbell also matches this and is a big enough name that it would bring attention to Upchurch’s music. Both artists could receive bumps from teaming up, plus I think the song that would come out of it would be fantastic.

2. Brantley Gilbert

            I don’t want a Church/Gilbert country song. Give me a Creeker 3 hard core rock song from these guys. Let’s be honest, no one turns to Gilbert to get a fix of traditional country music, we listen to him because he’s modern-day southern rock. I want to see the two guys just absolutely tear it up. Unfortunately, this will never happen, because of one name, Big Machine Records. Big Machine will never let Brantley do music with the guy who is trying to take them down, so this will have to be a dream that stays just that. If you want to get a fix of what it might sounds like, just play “Read Me My Rights” and “Hillbilly Psycho” at the same time, and then imagine a crossover.

1. Justin Moore

            This one was easy and let me spoil it by just repeating Big Machine Records with Justin as I did Brantley. But damn the song would be amazing. Upchurch regularly names Justin in his songs, “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” comes to mind. I think the fanbases between the two are very similar, so it would produce good numbers. Justin is only thirty-seven, so he probably has at least another eight years of relevance, but eventually the radio will move on. This could be a cash cow for Justin, turning into the biggest name that is willing to work with country rap artists. It makes a lot of sense for the two to come together, but unfortunately, like Gilbert, it’ll be a long time if it ever happens. If you want to hear this combo together, listen to “Black Sheep” with “Jesus and Jack Daniels.”

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“Outlaw in Me” by Brantley Gilbert is one of the most underrated songs… ever

           I heard a song on shuffle that is probably one of the most underrated songs I know of. Yes, I understand that every artist has a few underrated songs. This song is probably the most underrated song by the second most underrated artist in the game. I think I would have to give Justin Moore and his eight number one hits the most underrated, but Brantley Gilbert with his six are right behind Moore. I think both are similar in terms of crowd, Brantley Gilbert is southern rock, and Justin Moore is southern rock meets traditional country. His current single is “Hard Days,” which seems like it might be sliding off the chart, which is bullshit because it’s a hit. That song will have its own article soon, but since it still could regain some momentum and continue its charge up the charts, I’ll hold off. However, a song that won’t be a radio single at this point, and it probably wouldn’t be a hit because the radio sucks, is “Outlaw in Me.”

           If you don’t know this song, go fucking listen to it right now. The song just starts with a simple guitar riff, nothing fancy, nothing overpowering. Basically, picture a shirtless guy and a girl lying on the couch together. The girl asks the guy about his scars, and he basically says I don’t want to talk about it. The song’s premise is that the girl understands everything wrong with the guy, all his outlaw ways, but that’s what she loves about him. She is a girl that understands what she has and is ok with it. However, she is also a badass, and she wants to hang with the guy. She understands that the guy is who he is, but he will unconditionally love her despite his flaws.

           The message is very Brantley Gilbert. It isn’t anything overpowering, but it just fucking hits. The type of guy reading this has that rebel heart, and he doesn’t give a shit about norms. He has made a few mistakes, some he might regret, some he might not, but fuck, he isn’t sorry for any of them. I know personally, my girlfriend knows that I’m not the flowers and cuddling type guy, but the fact that I stay with her and am loyal to her every day is my way of saying I love you. Is it right? Maybe not, but it’s just who I am as a person. This song makes me feel something, which is something that Brantley is very good at, making songs that make outlaws feel.

           This article is pretty short, and I apologize for that. I think that everyone should just go listen to the song instead of listening to me ramble. Brantley Gilbert is fucking amazing, and although he might not get the respect he deserves, he puts on a hell of a live show. He can mix songs like “Outlaw in Me” with songs like “Bottoms Up” or “Hell on Wheels,” and it’s fucking amazing. Go give my boy BG some love; this won’t be the last time you hear about him on this site because he is one of the best out there.

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2021 Bar Fight Bracket

Here we are, the first debate in Beats, Beer, and Bonfire’s history. We all know that it’s March, and everyone makes brackets for everything, so who are we to be an exception. Unlike other brackets, though, we do one that we think people will actually give a shit about. Country music singers should handle themselves at a bar, but most of them can’t. I don’t think that chart-toppers like Dan and Shay or Sam Hunt would throw hands in a bar, but the old-school rednecks of country music past are a totally different story. On top of not being country at all anyway, they are more Hollywood and pop than gritty country artists. I genuinely like all of the artists in this bracket, and I think they all make fantastic music, which was not a qualifier. If someone had listed Sam Hunt, he would be on the bracket, but obviously, no one thinks he is tough.

I made an Instagram poll and asked people who they thought would win a bar fight to start this bracket. Conveniently enough, 12 artists were nominated, so it was easy to put a bracket together. These artists come from different backgrounds, from more radio-focused names like Morgan Wallen and Tyler Farr to Texas country master Cody Johnson to rap artists Upchurch and Adam Calhoun. We even have women in the bracket, as Carrie Underwood might not be known as the toughest chick, but she did grow up on a farm and has mom instincts. I think that if any modern female artist got nominated, it would behave to be her.

The first round of the bracket had eight artists, while four artists had byes. This means round two had eight artists, round three had four, and round four was the finals. To determine the matchups each round, I put each artist’s name on a wheel. I then had another wheel with the appropriate number of numbers on it. I spun the wheel with the artist’s name, followed by the number. In round one, numbers one through four received the byes into round two. Then in the following rounds, the wheel was spun again. I went through all of this trouble because I wanted it to be random and unbiased throughout the tournament. It also led to some exciting matchups, which can be seen below.

Round 1

Round 1 featured some exciting matchups and a few upsets right off the bat. The artists that received byes were Brantley Gilbert, Trace Adkins, Trey Lewis, and Cody Johnson. Artists like Gilbert and Adkins are favorites in this tournament and didn’t really need help. However, Trey Lewis, who isn’t a household name, and Cody Johnson, who isn’t nearly as physically big as some other contenders, might have benefited from the early advantage. The rest of the matchups are as follows…

Carrie Underwood 28% vs. Hank Williams Jr. 72%

           The first matchup, Underwood vs. Williams Jr, I didn’t think would be much of a discussion. I think Carrie Underwood might have gotten a boost against most people due to being the lone female, but it’s hard to vote against a legend. The one argument that could be made is that Carrie Underwood is a super athletic 38-year-old, and Hank is 71 years old who has spent more of his life at a bar than at a gym. Personally, I would expect Underwood to be able to beat Hank. Still, I didn’t expect the majority to agree with me. At the end of the day, Hank Williams Jr. took this matchup by a considerable margin. I think we will see the trend throughout this tournament that people are voting on legends like they are in their prime. That isn’t necessarily the way I intended this bracket to go. Still, at the same time, I didn’t really make rules, so it was up to interpretation. 

Morgan Wallen 81% vs Tyler Farr 19%

           In my opinion, the first upset of the tournament, I expected Tyler Farr would take Morgan Wallen down. Honestly, if this fight actually happened, I would still expect Farr to win. Still, Morgan Wallen has a considerable following, so I think his fans stepped up this round. Not that I don’t think Morgan Wallen is a tough dude, and I’m sure he has been in a bar fight or two in the past based on his drinking habits, but I don’t think he would beat Farr. Regardless my opinion doesn’t matter. The people have spoken, so Morgan Wallen will move on round to, and really the voting wasn’t even close.

Adam Calhoun 51% vs. Toby Keith 49%

           In the best matchup of round one, Adam Calhoun was pitted up against the man who admits he is only as good once as he ever was, Toby Keith. Adam Calhoun has gone to jail for aggravated assault, which I would’ve assumed gave Calhoun a massive advantage, but I was wrong. Toby Keith made it close, and for about 22 of the 24 hours, the two went back and forth; in hour 23, they were tied. At the last minute, one final person gave Adam Calhoun the nod. This was a crazy close poll, and I hope this isn’t the last one like this. 

Randy Houser 37% vs. Ryan Upchurch 63%

           The final matchup started very similar to the Calhoun vs. Keith matchup. Both of them were back and forth,  as I would check one minute and see Upchurch winning, but the next minute Randy Houser would pull ahead. However, about halfway through, Upchurch started to pull away from Houser. I think physically, I would take Randy Houser, but Upchurch just has a dog in him that I think would overcome Houser. Again in a super close pull, the general public agreed with me as Upchurch pulled ahead and moved onto round two.

Round 2

           Round two saw every artist who received a bye in round one facing off against a last-round winner. I think that we might see some close matchups again. Looking at these matchups, I believe I know who would win in real life, but this isn’t reality, and the underdogs with big fanbases have been showing up. Also, Adam Calhoun himself voted on all of these polls, so we will let you know what he voted as we go. Without further ado, round 2 results… 

Cody Johnson 31% vs. Hank Williams Jr. 69%

           The Texas cowboy went up again, Bocephus, and based on the last round, I wasn’t surprised by the outcome. I voted for CoJo because, again, he’s a 33-year-old cowboy going up against a 71-year-old legend who, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly in fighting shape. However, like I’ve said before and will probably say again, I didn’t make rules, and I think many people are picking Hank Jr. in his prime, so that is why he took down Cody Johnson. As for Adam Calhoun, he was on the winning side as he voted Hank Jr. to win.

Trey Lewis 21% vs. Adam Calhoun 79%

           This is an interesting one, and not because of the results. This is the first poll so far is the first time that BOTH of the guys voted for themselves. Trey Lewis and Adam Calhoun each picked themselves to win, which led me to put up a poll asking them if it was time to put on the gloves. Neither replied to that, which is a little unfortunate, but probably better off for Lewis. I still am siding with the guy who literally has gotten arrested for aggravated assault, and I think that I will until the end. Most people agreed with me, and Calhoun moves onto the semifinals.

Morgan Wallen 38% vs. Brantley Gilbert 62%

           This is the matchup that I was the most nervous about. I think everyone knows who would win the fight. Brantley Gilbert would absolutely dominate Morgan Wallen. I’m sorry, Morgan, I like you, but damn son, you would go down. I think that Wallen still was being voted on by fans, but it just isn’t happening. Adam Calhoun agrees with me, as he voted for Gilbert as well. Brantley Gilbert will be moving on into the semifinals, and I think he has a legitimate shot at making the finals.

Ryan Upchurch 53% vs. Trace Adkins 47%

           Last round, Upchurch and Randy Houser were both close for a lot of the poll, until closer to the end when Upchurch pulled away and took a commanding lead. This one was almost the opposite of when Upchurch was out to a massive lead before Trace came surging back. However, it was too little too late, as Upchurch held off the charge and won this fight. Adam Calhoun had his boys back, so he ended up picking perfectly this round.

Round 3

           I don’t expect this round to produce any close results. Nothing against Upchurch, but I think that people realize that Calhoun is just a physically bigger human, which will propel him to the win. On the other side, Hank Jr. has taken out Carrie Underwood and Cody Johnson, who aren’t exactly known for putting off fighter vibes. I think that if we don’t see a Brantley Gilbert, Adam Calhoun finale, it would be a shock. However, I don’t want to count out Hank Williams Jr.

Ryan Upchurch 54% vs. Adam Calhoun 46%

           Well, I guess I got the first part of my shocker. When I went to bed last night, Calhoun was leading Upchurch by a few votes. I wasn’t ready to call it, but when I woke up, and the lead changed, I was shocked. Upchurch received a streak of at least ten votes in a row, which took him from down four to up six votes. I would be interested to see this fight in real life because as much as I love Upchurch, I wouldn’t be putting money on him. Maybe this came down to a popularity contest a little bit, but that’s the risk you run with a public poll. Well, congratulations are in order for Ryan Upchurch and welcome to the finals.

Brantley Gilbert 38% vs. Hank Williams Jr. 62%

           The other matchup, and the other upset, in my opinion, in the semifinals. Again, just like the first matchup, Brantley Gilbert led for well over half of the time. However, Hank overcame Gilbert last night and into this morning to move onto the finals. I personally looked at this bracket like it was a 71-year-old man vs. Brantley Gilbert, but I think most people were voting for vintage Hank, and he took it. The final round will feature a legend and the biggest name in country rap.

The Finals

           It all comes down to this. Two men have bested the other ten artists in the bracket. Upchurch had the tougher road to get here and really never beat anyone by a large margin. He took down Randy Houser, Trace Adkins, and Adam Calhoun in his path to the finals. On the other hand, this might be Hanks’s biggest challenge, as he had Carrie Underwood, Cody Johnson, and Brantley Gilbert. The first two aren’t exactly known for their hillbilly bar fight vibes, so it wasn’t much of a shocker that he went past them. Brantley Gilbert was my favorite in the previous matchup, but Hank proved that he still has the following to pass the artist. I’m excited to see this final round, I would have to say Upchurch has the edge, but I have slept on Hank enough and don’t want to anymore. I think it is a 50-50 tossup but let’s see how it goes!

Ryan Upchurch 33% vs. Hank Williams Jr. 67%

           I can’t say I’m surprised by the result, but I can say the split was much bigger than I expected. I expected this to be at least a 45 to 55 percent amount, but Hank didn’t even give Upchurch a chance. From the beginning to the end, Hank took a quick lead and never looked back. With that being said, congratulations on Hank Williams Jr. on being the first-ever Beats Beer and Bonfires Bar Fight Champion!

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