Morgan Wallen drops new album and steps into multiple controversies

From Issue 7

Country musician Morgan Wallen preparing to take the stage for a concert. (Courtesy of Morgan Wallen’s Instagram.)

Country singer Morgan Wallen announced last November that in early 2021 he would be dropping a double album and surprised fans with three songs that would be found in the album titled “Somebody’s Problem,” “Still Goin Down,” and “Livin’ the Dream.” In addition to this, Wallen revealed he would be releasing a Target-only version of this album with two extra songs. At first, Dangerous: The Double Album was set to be released on January 8, 2020, but that plan did not go as expected. Walmarts in several states, including Wisconsin, North Carolina, and West Virginia, somehow made a mistake that resulted in the albums being put on the shelves roughly a week before the actual date of release. In response to the leak, Wallen made a TikTok video in which he said, “I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let Walmart do the leaking like that. I’m gonna start doing the leaking of the songs myself. I don’t shop at Walmart anyway, and I also gave Target two extra songs, so if you’re going to buy my album physically, go to Target, baby!” 

Wallen said, “I’ve been working on this album for three years,” and his effort is shown throughout every minute of the new music. After working on his music for years, and then having it leaked must have been very tough, especially since his hard work is so apparent, but he handled it well. Before the actual release on Friday, January 8, he posted clips of “Warning,” “Dangerous,” “Rednecks, Red Letters, Red Dirt,” “865”, and “Somethin’ Country” on Tik Tok.

The album’s title comes from the title song “Dangerous,” which can be found in it and is evidently about Wallen’s arrest in May of 2020 for public intoxication. Later in the year, on July 10, he welcomed his newborn son Indigo Wilder into the world with ex-fiance Katie Smith. Morgan was seen partying maskless in October in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with college girls photographed and kissing several strangers, evidently very intoxicated. 

Despite this, it seems that he is planning on turning around his life, and this is all in his past. He was initially invited to Saturday Night Live then disinvited for breaking Covid protocols in October. On Instagram, after the controversy had passed, he said, “You know, I think I’ve lost myself a little bit. I’ve tried to find joy in the wrong places, and I don’t know, it’s left me with less joy,” he added. “So I’m gonna go try to work on that. I’m gonna take a step back from the spotlight for a little while and go work on myself.” He was reinvited two months later and made a joke out of the whole thing. SNL’s host, Jason Bateman, played Morgan one month into the future to warn him about how this one night out would come back to haunt him. He said, “Trust me, somebody’s gonna post a video of you ignoring COVID protocols, the whole internet’s gonna freak out … Once people hear about the party, you’re in big trouble, man, you’re gonna get kicked off Saturday Night Live.” At first, with such a crazy year, it was tough to believe a relatively new face to the country music world like Morgan Wallen was not only able to produce such a fantastic album but also make light of this situation since everyone has their ups and downs. 

Wallen’s latest mistake is a lot harder to forgive. He was out late drinking with some friends in Nashville, and when they arrived at his home, there is footage of him outside, stumbling around, yelling, and car horns being honked. Neighbors were annoyed by the disturbance, and they reported it to the police. Wallen was caught saying using the “N-word” and others not as serious but also explosive language through the neighbor’s Ring doorbell. He used the racial slur when referring to one of his friends, telling a second individual to watch over him. After this, he was seen going inside his home. 

It wasn’t long after this incident that Morgan apologized. TMZ was the first source to post the leaked security system footage, and he seemed remorseful, saying, “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.” 

After this, on February 10, Morgan posted yet another more lengthy five-minute apology to his Instagram account. In this video, he said that part of the reason for the delayed apology was that he needed to apologize to those closest to him that he had let down, such as his parents. He explained that he also had accepted several invitations from black organizations to have conversations about what had happened to better himself as a person. One of these organizations was the Nashville branch of the NAACP. “I’ll admit to you I was pretty nervous to accept those invitations,” he said. “They had every right to step on my neck while I was down, to not show me any grace. But they did the exact opposite- they offered me grace, and they also paired that with an offer to learn and to grow.” He continued to apologize for his actions and explain what all personal growth he had experienced in a short amount of time, but that he wished it had been sooner and under different circumstances. At the time of release, he had been sober for nine days. Wallen finished by saying, “I appreciate those who still see something in me and have defended me. But for today, please don’t. I was wrong. I fully accept any penalties I’m facing.” 

Morgan Wallen’s record label suspended his contract, taken out of the running for the ACM awards, and iHeartMedia and Entercom will no longer be streaming his music on their radio stations. While these are evidently very negative consequences, it is still baffling to some that Wallen’s streams and sales have not suffered at all but are instead at an all-time high after the controversy.