Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen… bam… click bait. These two are on absolute tears right now. Wallen is having a remarkable comeback from his controversy in the beginning of the year, with “Sand on My Boots” climbing the charts as his first single back. Luke Combs is sitting on his 12th number one hit with “Cold as You.” We could very easily be watching two all-time greats at the beginning stages of their careers, and it’s a lot of fun. There have been artists before that started hot and phased out, artists like Hunter Hayes had his first six singles all do well before disappearing. I think we are watching these two challenge some of the greatest commercial country artists, Luke Combs could realistically beat out George Strait for the most number ones of all time, and Wallen could challenge Garth Brooks for the best-selling artist of all time. How possible is it and how hot are these guys right now? Funny you ask, read on to find out.
Luke Combs just got it all overnight right? Amazing music, extremely hot wife, money, fame? It just popped up one day… right? Don’t tell Luke Combs that. He struggled early to get any traction or attention on music row. He was told that the songs he brought to the city were terrible, and he should just give it up. Those songs by the way included “Hurricane” and “When it Rains it Pours.” However, after grinding for a while, Combs finally did get the chance he deserved, and after “Hurricane” slowly climbed the charts to #1, the rest of the music took off. In fact, Luke Combs has never not had a song top the charts, he is a perfect 11 for 11 to this point, and “Cold as You” will probably ring the bell in a few weeks. You might say, “who cares, there are lots of artists with radio success who no one cares about,” and you would be correct, but out of his singles, the WORST selling one still is certified gold. I don’t think I need to really sell Luke Combs; I think he’s doing ok, but the streak he is on is fucking crazy, and it just started.
Ya know what, I will continue to sell Luke Combs, and I’m going to do it by comparing him to, who else, Justin Moore. Justin Moore has had 19 songs released as singles, of those, 10 have topped the charts. In reality, that’s a widely successful career, that’s more than Eric Church, Lee Brice, and Chris Young. Moore released his first single in 2008, Luke Combs released his first single in 2016. That’s how fast Luke Combs has been piling up number ones, he is dwarfing Justin Moore’s numbers and Justin had an eight-year lead on the guy. This is why I think that Luke Combs should be compared to the likes of George Strait, or Alan Jackson.
First off, I am by no means saying that Luke Combs is George Strait. I am however saying that I do believe that Combs could challenge him for the title of most number one hits by the end of his career. Luke Combs is 31 years old, which gives him about 19 more years of relevance. Let’s say that he has two number one songs per year, that would be 38, plus at the 11 he already has would be 49. George Strait has 44 number ones, and although Luke probably won’t be able to keep up the pace he is on, it’s not impossible. The other part of this is likeability, an artist can do well on the radio but not actually have many fans. Who doesn’t like Luke Combs? He has found the perfect formula of love songs for the girls, 90s country for the traditionalists, and rock songs for the hardcore guys. Anytime Combs comes around me, nosebleed tickets are selling for well over $100.
So what about the either guy at the top of the country music world? Morgan Wallen is still too new to have the crazy stats Luke Combs has overall, but what his two albums have done in a short time are crazy. Morgan Wallen was another guy who didn’t exactly pop off right away. He was on “The Voice” but failed because he didn’t sing One Direction as well as he sings country. He went to Nashville after that and released “The Way I Talk” which died early on the charts. In 2018 he released the album “If I Know Me” and it didn’t really make much noise. His second single, “Up Down” with Florida Georgia Line topped the charts but didn’t really do much at the time for Wallen. The next single, “Whiskey Glasses” really is the song that changed his career. After that, the mullet came out and the rest is history. Wallen is 4 for 6 with singles going number one, and that’s only because “7 Summers” got dropped off the radio because of the bullshit N-word thing.
Wallen essentially took 2021 off from the public eye, yet his album “Dangerous” will probably be the best-selling album of 2021, setting a shit ton of chart records in the process. I really don’t think this is going to be a phase either, Wallen has done something similar to Combs in the fact that he has captured a wide audience. He has the look, which is literally setting a trend across America with the mullet and cutoff flannel. The women love him, songs like “7 Summers” went from being a demo he teased on Instagram to a platinum selling smash hit. Men love his as well, songs like “Country A$$ Shit” are meant to fire up his redneck following. I think that Morgan Wallen has a legitimate chance to be the next Garth Brooks.
The thing about Garth Brooks is that no one really thinks about him as a true country artist or a radio successful guy. He is known as a cowboy who stayed true to himself musically yet competed with the biggest pop stars in the 90s. He also is known for his crazy energy during performances and often is considered the best performer of all time. He is second to only “The Beatles” in all time album sales. I’m not exactly sure how streaming numbers will translate to album sales, because in reality no one buys albums anymore, but I would expect Wallen to be making his way towards the top of the charts regardless.
If you look back the past ten years, there were artists like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Carrie Underwood dominating the genre, but these two just feel bigger. Luke Combs is just on fire, and although he is far away, he could eventually end up at the very least challenging Strait for the most number ones of all time. Wallen has had a roller coaster of a career so far, yet his controversies (that no one actually gives a shit about) have really only vaulted his success to the next level. I can’t wait to look back in 2030 at this next decade, because I want to see how much more success these guys had over the third most successful artist of the decade (Thomas Rhett maybe?) It will be interesting to continue to track these guys, because I think we are watching two all-time greats battle it out to be the biggest name in country music.