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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8 Songs Behind Hardy's Meteoric Rise in Country Music


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Since the 2018 release of his This Ole Boy EP, singer-songwriter Michael Hardy has emerged as the rising country artist billed simply as Hardy. With new album The Mockingbird & The Crow and a headlining tour on the way in early 2023, expect even more momentum to build for one of Nashville's hottest young stars.

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.

Here's our playlist of Hardy's six best songs, so far.

8. "Truck" (A Rock, 2020)

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - JULY 21: Michael Hardy of Hardy poses backstage on day 3 of Faster Horses Festival 2019 at Michigan International Speedway on July 21, 2019 in Brooklyn, Michigan.

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This song from Hardy's A Rock album may not have made it to radio, but based on the 2.2 million (and counting) views of the song's audio on YouTube, it has made an impact on fans. In "Truck," Hardy sings about the importance of his vehicle of choice to those who live country lifestyles, and how each person's truck shows off the owner's personality. The lyrics and the upbeat, FGL-influenced production make for a catchy country song. Even though "Truck" wasn't released as a single, it charted at No. 50 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.

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7. "Unapologetically Country As Hell" (A Rock, 2020)

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 04: Michael Hardy aka HARDY performs during 15th Annual Stars For Second Harvest Benefit at Ryman Auditorium on June 04, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Speaking of country songs, it doesn't get much more country than Hardy's "Unaplogetically Country As Hell." Also an album cut from his A Rock album, this song is what the title implies: a rowdy and unapologetic ode to the redneck lifestyle. The Mississippi-born singer doesn't hold back when describing this kind of life, with lines like "Got buck blood on my Sunday clothes." The lyrics, the laid back country instrumentation and the accompaniment from a crowd of people in the chorus makes the song sound like Hardy's singing it along with friends at a bar.

6. "Jack" (The Mockingbird & the Crow, 2023)

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - JULY 17: HARDY performs during Faster Horses Festival at Michigan International Speedway on July 17, 2021 in Brooklyn, Michigan.

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As of Nov. 2022, multiple new songs from The Mockingbird & The Crow have upped expectations for the Jan. 2023 release, from rocking country numbers like the title track, "Truck Bed" and "Sold Out" to the more traditional country-sounding "Here Lies Country Music." Yet the most compelling so far has been "Jack," which is a warning about alcohol abuse that crosses country storytelling with various strands of mainstream heavy rock from the late '90s and early aughts.

Listen here.

5. "Wait in the Truck" (Feat. Lainey Wilson) (The Mockingbird & the Crow, 2023)

Single artwork for Hardy and Lainey Wilson's "Get in the Truck."

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Hardy's got an unbelievable batting average when it comes to picking the right duet partner. That hitting streak continued in 2022 with "Wait in the Truck," a co-write with Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt and Renee Blair that candidly deals with domestic abuse before there's a twist that makes it an old-fashioned murder ballad. The Wilson collaboration is another promising sign that The Mockingbird & The Crow should further elevate Hardy's mainstream profile.

Listen here.

4. "Beers On Me," Dierks Bentley (feat. Hardy and Breland) (2021)

Single artwork for Dierks Bentley, Hardy and Breland's "Beers on Me."

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Not only does Hardy often write and record his own collaborations, but he's no stranger to being featured on other artists' tunes. In July 2021, Bentley released "Beers On Me," a collaboration including Hardy and up-and-coming artist Breland. The three men combine their instantly-recognizable voices to sing an old-fashioned beer-drinking song about letting loose on a weekend night. Hardy doesn't just sing on the tune, but he also co-wrote the track with Bentley, Ashley Gorley, Luke Dick and Ross Copperman. The gold-certified single reached No. 1 on country radio.

Listen here.

3. "Give Heaven Some Hell"  (A Rock, 2020)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18: Hunter Phelps performs on The Highway Finds Tour featuring HARDY presented by SiriusXM at Gramercy Theatre on October 18, 2019 in New York City.

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Hardy brings up a more heavy topic with his 2021 single "Give Heaven Some Hell." In this preview of rock-influenced country songs to come, Hardy sings from the perspective of a man who has lost a close friend from his group of "noise-makin' boys." Hardy sings of attending the funeral and imagines that his friend is still living his wild ways up in Heaven, and therefore, is giving the afterlife "some hell." Although the song is upbeat, it is emotional in nature, as the song's character attempts to cope with mortality ("Man it ain't right, man it ain't fair").

Listen here.

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2. "One Beer" (feat. Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson) (Hixtape, Vol. 1, 2019)

SIngle artwork for Hardy, Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson's "One Beer."

Hardy has written many hits for other artists, and he earned his first No. 1 as an artist with "One Beer," a 2020 collaboration with Alaina and Dawson. The trio tells the heartwarming story of a teenage couple who unexpectedly find out they are having a baby. While the young woman and man are first shocked at the news, they grow into a beautiful family with their child. The hook of the song is that their relationship, and in turn their family, came out of "one beer" together. The song's music video showcases the story of the song, adding a dramatic twist. "One Beer" landed at No. 1 on Billboard Country charts in the US and Canada, as well as other charts around the world.

Listen here.

1. "Rednecker" (This Ole Boy EP, 2018)

EASTVALE, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 18: Hardy performs at the 2019 Tailgate Fest on August 18, 2019 in Eastvale, California.

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Hardy praised the redneck lifestyle he knows so well yet again with "Rednecker," his official debut single. In this raucous tune, Hardy challenges his fellow country boys, declaring that he's "rednecker" than any of them. To prove this, he lists his redneck bonafides throughout the song, singing, "My town's smaller than your town / And I got a bigger buck and bass on my wall / I got a little more kick in my drawl / Y'all, I got little more spit in my chaw." The song's official music video further makes Hardy's point, as he's seen participating in various country leisure activities such as mudding and mattress surfing. Some fans surmise the song is poking fun at the alleged "one-upsmanship" in the genre, but either way, "Rednecker" makes for a fun country song and remains Hardy's greatest hit.

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This story previously ran on Oct. 19, 2021.

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