HARDY Says Luke Combs Opened The Door For “Normal-A*s Looking Dudes” In Country Music

Luke Combs HARDY
John Shearer/Getty Images for ACM

Score one for the normal-a*s looking dudes.

Back in the dark days when bro country was dominating the genre, it seems like every new artist coming out was just some male model with a carefully curated look and formulaic songs that fit what the radio was looking for at the time.

And of course, it wasn’t great.

But around 2016, things started to change as guys like Chris Stapleton and Luke Combs came along and totally changed not only the sound, but the look of country music.

It was a change that HARDY discussed recently during an appearance on the Ten Year Town podcast with Troy Cartwright, crediting Stapleton’s performance with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards with putting an end to the “bro country” era:

“Bro country was like a professional wrestler era, and every song was their – every single was their theme song walking out to the…you know what I mean?

And everybody was fit and good looking, and like, that was your thing.

And then the moment to me that it changed was when Chris Stapleton sang on stage with Justin Timberlake…

He was the first dude that was popping off and had a completely different sound…It pivoted for the first time in, whatever, five, six, seven years.”

And HARDY also gives credit to Luke Combs – because when he came along, it opened up the door for other artists who don’t look like male models to have success in the genre:

“And then, two or three years later Combs came out, and then it just busted wide open with a bunch of normal ass looking dudes, you know what I mean?

And all of us were like, ‘F*ck yeah, I can get a record deal now.'”

@tenyeartown @HARDY talks the evolution of bro-country in the 2010s #tenyeartown #nashville #countrymusic #songwriter #hardy #troycartwright #brocountry #stapleton #songwritingchallenge #musiccity ♬ original sound – Ten Year Town Podcast

It’s a subject Luke himself has talked about himself, admitting that when he moved to Nashville many in the music industry told him that he was better suited as a songwriter than an artist because he didn’t “look the part.”

But as Luke pointed out, it was actually those other guys who didn’t look the part:

“We’re talking about COUNTRY music here… if anybody looks the part, it’s me.

The OTHER guys don’t look the part, that’s the problem. I’m not the guy that’s the problem here.

Throw these other guys at the Jiffy Lube, they’re gonna look outta place. You put me at the Jiffy Lube and you’re gonna think I manage the son of a bitch.”

I mean, he’s definitely not wrong. But he probably didn’t realize at the time that he was really opening the doors for other “normal-ass looking dudes” to jump into country music too.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock