NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 29: Walker Hayes performs at the Ryman Auditorium on April 29, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Walker Hayes Songs: 8 Gems From His Feel-Good Rise to Fame

Walker Hayes' path to stardom in country music hasn't always been easy, but it all paid off when "Fancy Like" became one of the biggest viral sensations in recent years from any popular music genre. He's since proven to be no one-hit wonder with subsequent songs that reflect his way with words and his genuine focus on faith, family and being a good neighbor.

The Alabama-born singer-songwriter signed his first record deal with Capitol shortly after moving to Nashville in 2005, but after being dropped by the label, he worked at Costco to support himself, his wife Laney and their six children.

He pressed on, however, signing a publishing deal with Shane McAnally and releasing successful singles on Monument Records. Now in 2022, he's at the peak of his career behind the multi-platinum Country Stuff The Album.

Here's Wide Open Country's playlist of Walker's eight best songs so far.

8. "Beer in the Fridge" (Boom, 2017)

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 02: Musician Walker Hayes attends the ACM Awards official after party at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on April 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

iDenise Truscello/ACMA2017/Getty Images for ACM

Though it lacks the streaming numbers and cultural imprint of other selections here, "Beer in the Fridge" might be the most powerful —and most personal— song in Hayes' catalog. The single candidly addresses the victory over alcoholism that allowed Hayes to maintain the work effort and positive mental attitude that kept him professionally afloat during less certain times.

Listen here.

7. "You Broke Up With Me"(Boom, 2017)

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 25: Walker Hayes performs during the Lakeshake Festival at Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island on June 25, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

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Hayes first made a name for himself in 2017 with "You Broke Up With Me." His now-famous talk-singing style was first introduced to the masses here, via a contagious beat made up of whistling and guitar picking. Its lyrics are aimed at an ex-girlfriend who misses the narrator though ironically, she's the one that broke up with him.

Listen here.

6. "90's Country" (2018)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 26: Country recording artist Walker Hayes visits Build Series to discuss his song '90's Country' at Build Studio on November 26, 2018 in New York City.

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Hayes released an ode to one of country music's most storied decades in 2018 as a standalone single. It employs his rhythmic singing and genre-crossing musical style as he seamlessly ties together titles of different '90s country songs, such as Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine," George Strait's "Check Yes or No" and more to tell the story. It's one of the better selections from the nostalgic trend that's brought us Blake Shelton's "No Body" and Cole Swindell's "She Had Me at Heads Carolina."

Listen here.

5. "Don't Let Her" (8Tracks (Vol. 3): Black Sheep, 2019)

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Walker Hayes performs on day 3 of C2C Country to Country festival at The O2 Arena on March 11, 2018 in London, England.

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Hayes continued his streak of memorable singles in 2019 with the sentimental "Don't Let Her," a song in which a man passes away and his wife remarries. The tune directs tips on how to keep his wife happy toward the man who takes its narrator's place. At the top of the list is this: "If she ever misses me, please, don't let her." Although the song's subject sounds sad, it's surprisingly upbeat and full of personality as it includes funny pieces of advice such as "Don't ever say she's acting just like her mother" and "Don't ever watch 'The Office' without her."

Listen here.

4. "Craig" (Boom, 2017)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 04: Walker Hayes and Craig Allen Cooper visit "The Story With Martha MacCallum" at FOX Studios on May 04, 2022 in New York City.

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Hayes' musical style and candid lyrics suit carefree tunes, but the singer has also applied this approach to songs with deeper subject matter. "Craig," also from his Boom album, tells an autobiographical story about Craig Cooper, whom Hayes met at church. Hayes sings about losing his record deal and his mini-van, forcing him to squeeze his family of eight into a small car. In the middle of Hayes' struggle, however, Cooper comes through with a meaningful gift for the family. This heartwarming song landed just inside the Top 60 on the charts, but it's a perfect example of Hayes' depth as a songwriter.

Listen here.

3. "AA" (Country Stuff The Album, 2022)

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 13: Walker Hayes performs onstage during the 2021 CMT Artist of the Year on October 13, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT/Viacom

After "Fancy Like" threw Hayes into superstardom, he followed it up with "U Gurl," and later with the crowd pleaser he was in search of, "AA." It's an intentionally silly tune about such dead-serious topics as sobriety and fatherhood. The acoustic guitar-heavy, country-flavored tune was a spiritual successor to "Fancy Like" beyond its light-hearted tone, with both songs getting a boost by a TikTok dance created by Hayes and his oldest daughter, Lela.

Listen here.

2. "Y'all Life" (2022)

Single artwork for Walker Hayes' "Y'all Life," which shows a high school football player in his helmet.

The 2022 single "Y'all Life" added to the long list of modern country singles about the hometown experience, from parking lot hangouts with lifelong friends to local buzz over this coming Friday's high school football slate. Hayes flavors it with his usual charm, rhyming Dolly Parton with the name of NBA player James Harden and hat-tipping kindred spirit Nelly. Though it's not as pivotal to Hayes' rise as "Fancy Like" by any stretch, it's a stronger example of how his skills have elevated the country-rap game.

Just as Hayes brought in Kesha to revamp "Fancy Like," he's retackled "Y'all Life" with country music enthusiast Ciara.

Listen here.

1. "Fancy Like" (Country Stuff The Album, 2022)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 05: Walker Hayes performs on NBC's "Today" at Rockefeller Plaza on August 05, 2022 in New York City.

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Up until 2021, Hayes was enjoying a successful-enough career with a solid fan base thanks to several of the songs listed above, with one viral song released in August 2021 skyrocketing his career to the next level. That song, of course, is "Fancy Like" from Country Stuff The Album, which started a viral dance craze on TikTok and made its way to country radio. The song itself is relatable, as Hayes sings about his not-so-fancy life of going to "Applebees on a date night" and enjoying "Natty in the styrofoam." The triple platinum single became a pop culture sensation, landing at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts and No. 3 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100

Hayes has also released a remixed version with pop star Kesha. "Fancy Like" even landed a Grammy nomination, which aren't givens for commercial country hits.

Listen here.

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This story was previously published in December 2021.