Dangerous-ly Ascending to Stardom

Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” recently broke a Billboard 200 chart record, and here’s why.


Sarah Kueking, Managing Editor

In June, I was listening to a country music station on the radio, something I never choose to do. That fateful day was the first time I heard Ernest and Morgan Wallen sing “Flower Shops” together. I vividly remember closing my eyes and barely holding back the tears as Morgan Wallen sang the chorus.

Hearing Wallen’s voice singing about buying violets and daisies to hide all the crazy after my adoptive mother passed away entranced me enough to listen to his music nonstop after being discharged. It seemed he was speaking directly to me even though we had never met.

Wallen has come a long way as an artist in the past year. His latest work, “Dangerous: The Double Album,” released on Jan. 8, 2021. After its debut, the album spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Interestingly, seven of those weeks were after TMZ published footage of Wallen using a racial slur. According to NBC, three weeks after the release of “Dangerous,” TMZ put out a video of Wallen drunkenly shouting the n-word to a friend at the end of a night of partying. He apologized numerous times, going so far as to ask fans not to defend him, spend 30 days in rehab, and donate money from his album sales to the Black Music Action Coalition, among other organizations. According to the New York Times, despite Wallen’s music disappearing from streaming and radio playlists and Wallen’s label suspending him, his album has now enjoyed a seat in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 for a whopping 86 weeks. The significance of this is that Wallen’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” officially holds the record for the most weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart by a solo artist. 

Now, a year and a half after its release, Wallen is selling out stadiums and performing beyond the audience’s expectations. I attended his concert on Aug. 27 in Maryland Heights, Mo. and some of my fellow concertgoers who were regulars at the venue had never seen anyone perform as well or attract as large of an audience as he did that night. 

However, Wallen’s music is what truly built up his immense fanbase. He has a unique voice that is instantly recognizable once you’ve gotten to know even one of his songs. Beyond his voice, though, his commendable songwriting skills are what motivated me to take the Amtrak for five and a half hours to see him perform live. Between his songs about heartbreak, falling in love, and even honoring our nation’s veterans, Wallen writes songs anyone can relate to.

Judging from the countless times I have listened to “Dangerous,” many of Wallen’s best ballads are about heartbreak. In his song “7 Summers,” he laments about one of his first loves, who probably has gotten married or had children and forgotten about him even though they were high school sweethearts. I feel the same way about many of my young loves, most of whom have probably forgotten me by now. Similarly, in “Sand in my Boots,” Wallen sings about meeting a girl he really liked only to go home to his family without her. I have been disappointed by broken promises, romantic or otherwise, so many times in my life that I can definitely relate to this song, and I’m sure others can as well.
Unlike some artists, Wallen also knows how to write happy love songs. One example of this from Dangerous is “Somebody’s Problem.” In “Somebody’s Problem,” Wallen belts out notes about a girl he secretly admires. Unfortunately for Wallen, he may never see the girl he is pining after again. He explained to the audience at the Aug. 27 concert that the woman who inspired him to write this song was crossing the street in front of him one day. He has never even spoken to her. I can definitely relate to this after having countless romantic interests that I barely have talked to, if at all, only to regret it because I never see them again.

What really sets Wallen apart from other artists is “Cover Me Up,” the song on “Dangerous” honoring our nation’s veterans. The song was originally written and sung by Jason Isbell, but Wallen’s cover was released on “Dangerous.” The short film for Wallen’s cover of “Cover Me Up” was released on YouTube on Nov. 22, 2019. When the short film came out, Wallen commented on YouTube, “Grateful every day for the service and sacrifices of our nation’s veterans. Hopeful that this will start to shed a light on every aspect of their lives. Love this song and everything it means. Hope y’all do too.” 

I cried the first time I heard the song on its own and the first time I watched the short film. The film and song are about a man who comes home from the military and struggles with addiction and PTSD. I have heard a lot of music in my 22 years of being alive, and I do not recall many songs being about veterans. I salute both Wallen and Isbell for giving veterans the respect they deserve.

In all, I would definitely recommend “Dangerous: The Double Album.” Between the 30 included tracks, there must be something for everyone. For me, it has a song for all of my moods, which is why I give it a 10 out of 10. I look forward to seeing Wallen continue to break Billboard 200 chart records as his career catapults to new heights.