Walker Hayes Understands the Love — and the Hate — for ‘Fancy Like’
Walker Hayes says he doesn’t have to shield his family from criticism of “Fancy Like,” because his wife and six kids mostly stay away from social media. Also, for the most part, the response is really positive.
The many celebrity dance remakes and smile emojis outnumber those shouting “that’s not country” or those upset that “Fancy Like” pops up during every commercial break on television. It’s the Applebee’s song, with the restaurant chain going all in to the point of putting Hayes and his wife Laney's faces on menus nationally.
“We were watching Field of Dreams one night and the commercial came on and we legit lost our minds,” Hayes, who compares trying to soak up this moment to trying to drink from a fire hose, says. “That was like the biggest thing we experienced as a family.”
During this interview with Taste of Country Nights, the 41-year-old opens up about engaging with critics and the lesson he tries to teach his kids about his first No. 1 hit. He also explains how the success of “Fancy Like” has affected his own mental health, something he’s spoken about for years with remarkable candor.
“All of my heroes,” Hayes begins, “now it’s easy to praise them and say they are the fathers of the music that I love, but they were generally not accepted either. I don’t think Kris Kristofferson came to Nashville and everybody was like, ‘I love what he does.’ I know Hank Jr. doesn’t sound anything like Hank. Sr.”
“I’m not comparing me to those greats,” he adds. “I’m just saying to do something remarkable in this world, you’re going to threaten a lot of people.”
That’s the “that’s not real country” crowd, a group that speaks up anytime a song trades fiddle and steel for drum loops and a more snack-like melody. Hayes’ oldest daughter Lela helped the song go viral this summer by teaming with her dad for a quick TikTok video. Their smiles and the visibly tight bond between father and daughter made that small moment worth watching on repeat. From there, the song just wouldn’t quit. It’s been a mainstay at the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for more than two months and is nearing No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, a milestone it should reach by Monday (Nov. 8).
To say it’s a long time coming for the Mobile, Ala., raised singer is an understatement. Hayes had and lost a recording contract with Capitol Nashville a decade ago and took a job at Costco to pay the bills and feed his family. Along the way, he addressed his problems with alcohol and found God and sobriety with the help of family and friends, particularly one named “Craig.” Success can set a man with a fragile psyche back, but Hayes indicates he’s in a good spot now, because of what he’s been through.
“If there is anything I could tell little kids out there or even adults chasing dreams, it’s that success, it only multiples whatever you are,” he says. “If you’re a d--k, you’re 10 times a d--k. If you’re anxious, you’re 10 times as anxious. It doesn’t fix anything.”
That’s not the word-for-word message he shares with his daughters. He keeps it positive in the household, something made easy by the tight bond between mother and father and their kids. Lela understands the power of “Fancy Like” and is content with it, not needing a sweet car or big prize as a reward for her participation. She’s watched her dad long enough to know the journey is the thing to value.
“My story … it’s like Rudy," he says referring to the 1993 Notre Dame football movie. "Except I didn’t just get one tackle in the last seven seconds of a blowout. We have this massive song that will live in people’s hearts."