Scott Borchetta Praises “Superstar” Luke Combs At Opry Induction One Week After Saying He Wasn’t A “True Headliner”

Luke Combs, Scott Borchetta are posing for a picture
Jason Davis/Getty Images for Billboard Magazine

Exactly one week ago today, we published a story on Scott Borchetta’s recent comments about country artists under the age of 30.

Quite shockingly, he claimed that his own Big Machine recording artist, Thomas Rhett, was the only “true headliner” under the age of 30, completely dismissing the accomplishments of Luke Combs, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris and others. For starters, Luke Combs is playing many of the same exact stadiums that Thomas Rhett is, selling them out faster, and even playing two shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Rhett, as of right now, is only playing one. Kane Brown also added his own criticisms of Borchetta’s horrible take.

And it was a horrible take. A horrible take that we had to call him out on. Nothing personal, we just have to call ’em like we see ’em.

However, after Luke’s induction into the Grand Ole Opry last night, Scott seems to be whistling a different tune. He shared a congratulatory Instagram post, singing the praises of the new Opry member, and even commending him for being an all-around great human being.

“Huge congratulations to the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, @LukeCombs!  You won’t find a nicer, more caring and immensely talented singer, songwriter and artist anywhere. So proud that @BigMachineMusic gets to represent this Super Star artist and human being.  See you at the second sold-out show in Nashville! Congrats all @SonyNashville Lynn RiverHouseArtists Kappy @MakeWakeArtists This is one for the history books.”

Here’s my take:

I think Scott is sincere in his praise of Luke Combs, after all, when Luke signed his publishing deal back in 2016, it was as part of a co-venture with the publishing arm of Big Machine Label Group. Does Scott want Luke to write hit songs? Yes. Does Scott want Luke Combs to become a successful country music artist? Maybe… probably. Does Scott want Luke Combs to be bigger than Thomas Rhett? No. Is Scott afraid that Luke is going to blow past his golden pony? Definitely.

One might guess that if you scrolled through Scott’s Instagram account you’d see Luke on there a few times, perhaps celebrating a few of those number ones he’s written, but you’d be wrong. Prior to last night, I don’t think Scott has even shared a single Instagram post about Luke Combs. I scrolled through pretty fast, but either way, publishing accolades have never appeared to be something Scott cared much about. If nothing else, the timing is incredibly convenient.

The point is, I don’t think Scott posts that photo on Instagram if we don’t call him out. He just doesn’t. With the whole Taylor Swift fiasco, the last thing he needs is more bad press and dismissing Luke Combs as not a “true headliner” is exactly the kind of thing that’s going to make even more fans hate you. And, Luke’s fan are pretty much as rabid as they come in country music.

I won’t go as far to say that this is Scott admitting he was wrong, but he does add a casual “see you at the second sold-out show in Nashville” in there, so if nothing else, he’s willing to publicly acknowledge the kind of crowds Luke is bringing out right now. It might just be Scott trying to save face, but either way, I guess it’s a step in the right direction.

If there’s one thing you can always count on from Whiskey Riff, it’s that we’re always going to bring unapologetic honesty to the country music conversation, something few are willing to do. And again, HUGE congrats to Luke Combs. I would echo Scott’s praise of Luke 100%.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock