‘Fancy Like’ Is A Big Hit For Walker Hayes – Thanks, In Part, To TikTok & His Teenage Daughter
Country artist Walker Hayes can’t quite believe all that’s happened with his new single “Fancy Like.” Within weeks of its release, it shot to No. 1 on the Hot 100 Country Chart (now in its second week) and is holding steady as one of the top songs on iTunes and other streaming platforms. Much of that has to do with a TikTok dance video he made with his 15-year old daughter, Lela.
“The Tiktok world and that dance really sparked something special with this song,” he says.
Hayes and Lela first began choreographing dances to popular songs during the COVID lockdown. So, creating one for “Fancy Like,” seemed the natural thing to do. But they never expected the overwhelming response it’s received. At last check, their original version of “Fancy Like” had nearly 21 million views.
“I had no idea this was going to happen, and I think that’s what’s so powerful about it. It was just my daughter and me on a Sunday afternoon, spending time in this journey of parenthood, daughterhood and life. She was like, ‘Hey, Fancy Like needs a dance.’ And we just kind of zoned in on each other, created it, and posted it.”
He pauses, then adds with a laugh, “Six weeks later everybody’s doing the “Fancy Like.”
Not only are people watching the video (and creating videos of their own), they’re streaming the song seemingly non-stop. As “Fancy Like” moves back and forth between the No. 1 and No. 2 on iTunes, Hayes has been amazed to see it compete with songs from much bigger artists.
“To see these massive artists that I love and my kids love put out a song and it’ll go to No. 1 for a second, then “Fancy Like” will go right back. I’m sure the Ed Sheerans of the world are like – who IS this Walker guy?”
It’s interesting that social media has helped fast-track the song’s success because social media is why he wrote it in the first place. “Fancy Like” with its references to familiar brand names like Wendy’s, Applebee’s, and Maybelline, is a fun, upbeat, tongue-in-cheek, yet truthful response to some of the things Hayes was hearing from fans on Instagram. As a singer/songwriter in Nashville, people seemed to think Hayes would have a lot of money and be living a much more upscale lifestyle than he projects in his posts. The idea to destroy the myth came up during a songwriting session with Josh Jenkins, Shane Stevens, and Cameron Bartolini.
“I was talking about how on Instagram a lot of people comment on my posts, and they’re surprised that I drive a Nissan and we just live in a neighborhood,” Hayes says. “They think most artists who do this for a living live in a mansion and drive Lamborghini yachts.”
For Hayes, and so many others, that’s definitely not the case. The Alabama-native and his wife, Laney, are parents to six children (they lost another daughter during childbirth in 2018.) Just five or six years ago, he took a job at Costco to help pay the bills while continuing to work as a singer/songwriter. As he explains in the song, their life is far from fancy. He says a date night with his wife often just involves a stop at Wendy’s and dipping fries in a frosty, unless he wants to upgrade. Then, it might be dinner at Applebee’s. Here’s part of the chorus:
Yeah, we fancy like Applee’s on a date night
Got that Bourbon Street Steak with the Oreo Shake
Get some whipped cream on the top, too
Two straws, one check, girl, I got you…
The catchy, upbeat style of “Fancy Like” is similar to some of his earlier songs like “You Broke Up With Me,” “90’s Country,” and another new song called “Country Stuff” featuring Jake Owen. (Country Stuff is also the title of his new EP.) But his songwriting talent goes deeper, too, with touching songs like the one he wrote honoring his father called “Briefcase”, or another song from several years ago ago called “Craig” that song tells the true story of a special man who helped Hayes and his family when they were struggling.
His songs reflect Hayes’ core values which involves a deep love of family, a strong faith, and an appreciation for human relationships. In “Briefcase” (featuring Lori McKenna), he portrays the way a little boy views his father, who spends so much time away from home working, then comes to see it differently years later when he has children of his own. Hayes says he loves the way the song has inspired others.
“I had a grown man come up to me with tears in his eyes after a show,” Hayes recalls. “He was like, hey man, I was encouraged by your relationship with your dad to give mine a call.’ That’s the power of music right there. That man is going to lose his dad one day, but maybe he’ll be able to mend some things because I was able to say that me and my dad did.”
Hayes, who lost his father in March, was able to play “Briefcase” for him before he passed.
With his own family relationships so important, Hayes has been pleased to see how “Fancy Like” has prompted so many other dads to dance and post videos with their daughters.
“The 99-point-9 percent of the million people who’ve done this dance and posted about it are complete strangers to me, yet somehow we’re bonded now by doing this dance. And not to sound cheesy, but when I see a dad with a daughter, who is probably an introverted type of dad and nothing like me, and his face is completely straight and he can literally, barely do one dance move, but he’s in the yard with his daughter who is all dressed in pink, I mean it kind of makes me want to cry.”
“Fancy Like’s” early success has been exciting for Hayes whose music career has been gradual over the years. He’s continued to write songs for other artists, as he pursues becoming an artist in his own right. It’ll be interesting to see the affect it has on his new EP Country Stuff as more people get a chance to hear his music.
In the meantime, he says he’ll keep writing songs that are honest and true-to-life. And he’ll have fun while he’s doing it.
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been really positively influenced by joyful people despite their circumstances. And that’s all I want to be with songwriting and singing.”