Everything We Know About The Beef Between Zach Bryan And Walker Hayes

It all started when Bryan took a jab at Hayes’ massive hit “Fancy Like” on social media.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

January 25, 2024

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Zach Bryan; Photo by Scott Dudelson, Walker Hayes; Photo by Andrew Wendowski, Music Mayhem

Over the past few weeks, some tension has arisen between two viral country stars – Zach Bryan and Walker Hayes. While it seemed as though things had blown over after a few exchanged posts, new details have come up, leading fans to believe the beef may not be settled quite yet. 

When Did The Trouble Start?

It all started when Bryan took to X (formally Twitter) on January 9, to commend popular Americana/country artist Tyler Childers on notching his first top 50 country radio hit with “In Your Love.” 

“’First ever’ is f**kn insane, one of the best songwriters to ever do it,” he wrote, quoting another outlet that shared the news of Childers earning his “First-Ever Charting Single At Mainstream Country Radio.”

However, the “Something in the Orange” singer’s second post expressed more frustration than excitement over the fact that it took more than a decade of releasing music for Childers to reach this milestone on country radio.

Bryan Puts Down “Fancy Like,” Hayes Responds

In the process of trying to prove a point about the type of music radio chooses to play, Bryan ended up speaking negatively about Walker Hayes’ viral No. 1 hit “Fancy Like,” when comparing it to Childers’ work. 

“Imagine being radio (whoever the hell that is), hearing [Childers’] ‘Shake the Frost’ and being like, ‘no no let’s go with the Applebees song’,” Bryan wrote referencing a well-known line in the catchy tune that spent more than six months at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart and hit the top 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Songs. Additionally, “Fancy Like” earned Hayes his first GRAMMY Award nomination as an artist for Best Country Song. 

At first, Hayes took the high road as he responded in the comments with a bit of encouragement to both Childers and Bryan on the future of their careers. 

“Big shout to radio for playing dat Applebees song💪💪 Zach and Tyler praying y’alls  continued success🙏”

One fan was quick to come to Hayes’ defense as he called out Bryan for his harsh words saying, “You’re not wrong but don’t do Walker dirty like that. Another great songwriter.”

Bryan later clarified that he didn’t intend to cause any harm to Hayes and that he meant his words to come across in a more joking manner. 

“not insulting anyone! Meant it with humor not malice, different strokes different folks was just bent about the first ever on mainstream radio thing my bad,” he replied to the fan.

Walker Hayes Calls Bryan Out In New Song

Both artists remained quiet on the subject until Wednesday (Jan. 25), when Hayes decided he had more to say to the Oklahoma native. Taking to Instagram, he shared a snippet of a new song inspired by the recent events that unfolded between the pair of singers. 

“Woke up this morning, read something mean / ‘Something in the Orange’ tells me you’re feeling green,” he sings on the track in reference to Bryan’s “Something In the Orange” hit. “Felt like throwing punches / I just held ‘em back / Because Jesus didn’t die for me so I could fight with Zach Bryan,” he continues. 

In the post’s caption, Hayes explained that his friends “appreciated” the fact that he chose to take the high road in his first response to Bryan. However, he went on to confess he had “a hundred smart a— responses in the chamber that I didn’t fire off.”

From there the new song evolved into something bigger that centers around insecurities in general and the competitiveness between artists.  

“It’s obviously our natural human tendency to be a little butt hurt by anyone else’s success. Then we wondered about that,” he said as he continued to dive into the writing process. “Why on earth we would do that as song writers. Knowing that .0001 percent of us are actually making it in this biz. Took me 18 years to feed my kids with music and I’ll still knock something I hear on the radio cuz I didn’t write it. So, we tried our best to put it all in a Twanger. And this is what we got. I hope it makes y’all talk about stuff that matters.”

Zach Bryan has yet to comment on Walker Hayes’ most recent thoughts on the situation that unfolded between them. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.