Over the past couple of weeks, Walker Hayes’ lyrics about Applebee’s, Wendy’s frostys and cheap date nights on his track “Fancy Like” have blazed up several charts. According to Billboard, the track jumped from No. 37 to No. 10 this week on the Hot Country Songs chart, earning 4.7 million streams and 22,800 sold tracks during that tracking week. With “Fancy Like” landing at No. 10, it gives Hayes his second Hot Country Songs Top 10 following “You Broke Up With Me,” which went to No. 8 in 2018. This week also marks the track’s second on top of the Country Digital Song Sales chart, and it’s at No. 2 on Billboard’s all-genre Digital Song Sales chart and No. 51 on Billboard's Hot 100. It's also at No. 2 on Shazam's country chart and has reached the pinnacle of iTunes' all-genre Top Songs chart.
“We’re trying to process it, but we can’t,” Hayes tells CMT. “I can’t believe how it’s blowing up. It’s what you always hope for.”
The song’s popularity has soared thanks to a viral TikTok video of Hayes and his oldest daughter Lela dancing on a porch. Recalling the video’s genesis, Hayes says, “Like two Sundays ago we decided to make up a dance for ‘Fancy Like’ and just popped it online and went out for a run,” Hayes recalls. “When I came back, I opened my phone and it already had like 300,000 views already. I had never had a [video] go that fast. You could watch it blow up in real time, just gaining views. It was mind-blowing.”
Over the past year, with Hayes off the road due to the pandemic, he and his family have turned to making TikTok videos for fun--with Hayes and his kids creating dances for several songs from his six-track Country Stuff EP (which released June 4), including “Country Stuff” and “I Hope You Miss Me.”
“It's nice to know when you put out something that honestly, I just wrote about my family. There's no pretentiousness there. It's just who we are. When you get to be that honest and the public reacts, it's a real magical thing. And the dances, that's just me being a dad. I mean, that's just how we roll around here.”
As TikTok users do, several viewers of Hayes’ “Fancy Like” clip started doing their own versions of the dance, and Hayes says he’s watched as many as he can, often commenting on others’ dances.
“I applaud people for trying it, because I’m not going to lie, it’s not the easiest dance in the world. I mean it was hard for me to learn and Lela had to be real patient with me.”
Most are lighthearted, fun family videos, but he says one in particular stood out to him.
“There was one video with some folks who lost a child similar to the way we did,” Hayes says. Hayes and his wife Laney have also weathered the loss of a child, as their seventh child Oakleigh Klover passed away soon after her birth in 2018.
“Sometimes I wonder, ‘How am I really contributing to society? Am I working for eternal things or just to build followers and sell records?’ But there was this family who lost a child, and I know what they are going through. The mom and her first child did the dance, and I was like, ‘Wow.’ Just for that joy to kind of invade the darkness they’re in for a moment is really special."
"Fancy Like," the song itself, came about by a twist of fate.
“I wrote it with Cameron Bartolini, Shane Stevens and Josh Jenkins. Shane actually showed up to write on the wrong day...he had a writing session scheduled with someone else, but he was a day early, so we said, ‘Just jump in with us.’ I don’t know how, but first we got on the topic of Jesus and spent like three hours telling our own stories of faith and God’s grace, and just being vulnerable with each other. After we basically went to church in that session, we started talking about how people have these misconceptions of artists all the time.
“They think we all drive Mercedes or fly on jets and live in mansions. But I notice people commenting on videos and things I do on social media and they say, ‘Oh, you drink the same kind of milk I do,’ or ‘I have that same picture on my wall.’ And it’s like, ‘Yeah, well, I am you.’ So it came out of that, and I think it was Josh who said, ‘Fancy like.’
Hayes says “Fancy Like” has become such a runaway hit, he and his team have instantly focused their promotion efforts to help propel the song even higher up the charts.
“To be honest, ‘Country Stuff’ was performing like a single. It was out two weeks, maybe three, before ‘Fancy Like.’ We were ready to go with that and maybe devise a radio strategy on how to approach them, and then ‘Fancy Like’ came. So now it’s the single, and maybe we’ll follow up--when it runs its course--with ‘Country Stuff.’”
Hayes says the fan reaction to the song during the past live show or two has already been electrifying.
“We had a show in Temecula, California, last Saturday. Usually, ‘Don’t Let Her,’ ‘You Broke Up With Me’ and ‘90s Country’ are the high moments in the show. But ‘Fancy Like’ is already there. I picked up a Fiji water and I said, ‘Wow, this is some fancy water.’ And the crowd was like, ‘Oh!’ They knew it was coming. I just let them have the last chorus and they sang all of it. To have a song out two weeks and that's what's happening at shows. I can only imagine once a song like that creeps in the top 10 of radio and stuff, it's going to be crazy.”
He’s already seen a difference in radio response as well.
“The stations have been calling us about playing it, which is new. Usually we’re pounding the doors down, but this has been different from the get-go. I can’t wait to see how far it gets on the radio.”
And should “Fancy Like” reach No. 1 on the country radio charts, Hayes has just the plan to celebrate.
“Absolutely, we are having the No. 1 party at Applebee’s. We’ve already decided that," he says.