Talent Recap

‘The Voice’ Star Morgan Wallen Has Top Album — Is His Comeback Deserved?

Morgan WallenJohn Shearer/Getty Images

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Earlier this year, former The Voice star Morgan Wallen risked losing his career after a video surfaced in which he can be heard using the N-word. However, the scandal hasn’t been as devastating to Wallen’s success as people might have expected.

Billboard recently reported that Wallen’s album Dangerous: The Double Album was the second most popular album in the U.S. for the first half of 2021. It’s proof that not all controversies are enough to destroy a musician’s career — even if many object to the comeback.

Morgan Wallen Received Backlash for Using Racial Slur

Wallen competed on The Voice Season 6, making it to the playoffs on Adam Levine’s team. The country singer was in the news more than once last year for unflattering incidents, including a disorderly conduct arrest. He was also suspended from performing on Saturday Night Live for not following COVID-19 rules.

In January of this year, Wallen released his second album, Dangerous, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The next month, TMZ released video of Wallen saying the N-word. The video was reportedly shot by a neighbor as Wallen and his companions loudly returned from a night out.

At the time, Wallen told TMZ, “I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”

Wallen later said on Instagram that he was at the end of a 72-hour bender when the video was taken. Despite his apology, his music was pulled from radio stations and playlists, and his record label suspended his contract. Wallen was also dropped by his booking agent and made ineligible for the ACM Awards.



Wallen Maintained Popularity Despite the Scandal

“It’s on me to take ownership for this and I fully accept any penalties I’m facing,” Wallen said on Instagram. “The time of my return is solely on me and the work I put in.”

Wallen didn’t have to put in much work at all, considering his so-called return was pretty much immediate. His popularity actually increased following the TMZ video’s release. According to Billboard, just two days after the video surfaced, he had his best daily streaming total since January 29.

Wallen’s total sales also went up dramatically, from 5,100 on February 2 (when the video was released) to 35,200 on February 4. He also generated over $2 million in revenue from sales and streams in the nine days following the video alone.

The singer has even broken records in the charts. He was the first country artist to spend the first seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. His album ended up spending 10 consecutive weeks at the top of the chart, earning 2.108 million equivalent album units.

Is Morgan Wallen’s Comeback Deserved?

It’s hard to even call Wallen’s situation a comeback, since he actually seems to have gained popularity after the controversy. He may have lost the support of some in the industry, but people are still listening to his music in droves, so does it really matter?

Despite promises to put in the work and learn from his actions, Wallen reportedly went silent after speaking to the NAACP in Nashville about scheduling a meeting. His airplay has also increased in recent months, and he won three BBMAs back in May.

Earlier this year, Wallen even returned to Kid Rock’s Nashville bar for a performance. This is the same bar where he was arrested for public intoxication last year. Even that incident didn’t end up having any lasting consequences for his career.

What do you think of Wallen’s recent success after controversy? Let us know in the comments.

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