Right now, Luke Combs is one of the most popular country stars on the planet.
But it’s more than just a great debut album, a distinct baritone voice and a string of infectious radio hits, Luke’s meteoric rise to fame is due in part to his relatable public persona. In short, Combs can’t be all that different from your buddies back home, after all, he still carries himself like a small-town dreamer.
In a genre historically valued for its authenticity, Combs comes across as one of the most genuine people in the business.
For the casual country fan, Combs appeared from seemingly nowhere with the 2016 single “Hurricane.” No co-writes recorded by established names or brushes with reality TV fame foretold of his immense promise. Instead, the future superstar cut his teeth by playing bars around his home state of North Carolina.
Although headlining college town haunts doesn’t necessarily make someone a better artist than a former reality star or a sought-after songwriter, it certainly adds an air of accessibility to Combs’ image. As the college buddies that live out “Honky Tonk Highway” on the regular can attest, there’s no reason to doubt that Combs lived every single one of his songs during his time at Appalachian State University.
In addition, a college town dreamer achieving huge goals in the big city touches young people in some of the same ways that the rags-to-riches stories of Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash inspired past generations of Southern farmers and factory workers. For the average, college-educated country music fan, Combs is one of our own, thriving in a glamorous industry not prone to prop up people like us.
In a business inhabited by heartthrobs, Combs looks more like your cousins and co-workers than the ageless Tim McGraw, or former NFL hopeful Sam Hunt. He’s the guy from high school who won over girls with his sense of humor and charm, despite always dressing like he just climbed down from a tree stand. With a “less-is-more” approach to men’s fashion, Luke might resemble your real-life boyfriend and/or best friend more so than the chiseled jaw of every unattainable celebrity crush.
A common man, who looks like, acts like, and makes music for, the common man. He’s one of our own.
Here for a Good Time
Every live video of Combs captures a bunch of buddies having a ball on stage, not a band going through the motions. The guy seems beside himself over any chance to share his talents with the world. In a business that names an “Entertainer of the Year,” Combs gives everything he’s got to every single performance, red Solo cup in hand and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in close proximity, even when he’s on the hallowed stage of the CMA Awards.
Country music fans also appreciate stars with senses of humor. Like Brad Paisley before him, Combs blends seriously good singing with an air of levity, reminding fans that, despite his rise to country music stardom, he still doesn’t take himself too seriously. Whether he’s reading mean tweets on late night television or delivering the darkly humorous lines in “When It Rains It Pours,” Combs comes across as an ideal drinking buddy and an absolute hoot behind the scenes.
A man of the people, indeed.
Cover Photo via Matthew Paskert