Singer-songwriter Hardy performs onstage during weekend one, day three of Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 03, 2021 in Austin, Texas.
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15 Songs Behind Hardy's Meteoric Rise in Country Music (and Hard Rock)

Hardy's gone from a sought-after songwriter to a solo superstar.

Since the 2018 release of his This Ole Boy EP, singer-songwriter Michael Hardy —billed professionally as Hardy— has emerged as the rising country artist billed simply as Hardy.

Before finding solo success with Big Loud Records, Hardy excelled at songwriting, with such co-writes as Morgan Wallen and Florida Georgia Line's "Up Down" and Blake Shelton's "God's Country" impacting the charts. He released his Hixtape, Vol. 1 EP in 2019, which features duets with Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett and many more. His full-length debut album, A Rock, followed in 2020. Hixtape, Vol. 2 was released in Sept. 2021.

His 2023 album The Mockingbird & The Crow showed a greater versatility by blending turn of the century hard rock —country music is no more "rednecker" than that era of heavy, mainstream rock 'n' roll, after all— with the sound that made him a headlining touring act and in-studio hitmaker. Up next is another rock-inspired project that's more Limp Bizkit than Lainey Wilson.

"It's Hardy here and just wanted to let you guys know that I have a song coming out called 'Rockstar' coming out on Feb.  9," he shared on social media.on Feb. 6. "It is my next rock single and it is going to be a part of my — I'm so excited to finally say this — I'm putting out a rock record that's going to be out before the tour starts and it's badass and I'm so excited for y'all to hear it!"

In the comments, Nickelback suggests a future collaboration, which would make total sense. As of March 8, the album's title and release date have yet to be announce.

Before then, we'll get Hixtape Vol. 3: Difftape (Small Batch) on March 29. It's a Joe Diffie tribute featuring such famous Hardy friends as Post Malone. So, he's sticking to his country roots some while still rolling with rockstars and rappers.

Basically, Hardy's become creatively unpredictable while still being a fixture of both Music Row's songwriting scene and country radio playlists.

Here's our playlist of Hardy's 15 songs best, so far. As you'll see, he's a go-to collaborator for the stars for good reason.

This story previously ran on Oct. 19, 2021.

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