If you were on the internet in 2021, you probably heard the country track Fancy Like more times than you can count. This particularly goes for those of us who spent time on TikTok, where the song went viral—along with a choreographed dance routine, of course, which was recreated thousands of times by users around the world.
The hit came from country singer Walker Hayes, who saw it climb to number one on the country charts and number three on the Billboard Hot 100. It was his best single to date, winning a Billboard Music Award For Top Country Song.
The TikTok Challenge
The real success of the song came from the COVID-19 pandemic. While the world was sheltering at home, Hayes found himself with more free time. He and his teenage daughter Lila decided to pass the time choreographing dance numbers and uploading them to TikTok. Eventually, they made a routine for his song Fancy Like and shared it on the platform.
It became a massive hit, generating a dance challenge that was recreated far and wide. Later, he recreated the dance again, this time with his wife and their six children.
The track is about a date night out with your significant other—specifically, Hayes going out with his wife, Laney. The lyrics describe going out to Applebee’s for a date and how the couple is happy just to spend time together, even if it is in humble surroundings.
There is a certain amount of humor in the song, with Hayes describing how this date night is, for himself and his wife, a special occasion. But he also used the track to poke fun at pretentious people who can’t enjoy a simple dinner date at a chain restaurant because they are too preoccupied with being fancy and unique.
He has said that the song is about enjoying “the simple things in life” without getting caught up in whether they’re considered low-class. He and his wife don’t need to go anywhere upscale to enjoy their time together. Eating a simple meal and getting a milkshake together is enough.
He also explained that in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama, people live simply. Most of the time, they eat exclusively home-cooked meals or other cheap food. The inspiration for the track partially came from the experience of getting your paycheck and splurging on a sit-down meal in a restaurant, which felt very upscale in contrast to most dinners.
The Effect Of The Pandemic
Hayes said that he had wanted to write a song about his date night experiences with his wife for many years, but it never came together. In fact, he credited his time in quarantine as being the key to writing the track. Usually, he would have been touring or recording music for an upcoming album.
However, with the unprecedented downtime at home, he found that his family was foremost on his mind, and he wanted to write about his everyday experiences with them. With little else to do, he finally found the time to compose Fancy Like.
Walker And Laney Hayes
Walker and Laney Hayes first met when they were teenagers. He explained that when they were in high school, going to a chain restaurant such as Applebee’s for a dinner date seemed very fancy to them. It became a date night tradition for them and is a simple outing they’ve enjoyed since they were high school sweethearts, even though their lives have changed drastically since then.
He also pointed out that, to working-class people who have large families, going to a chain restaurant is quite a special occasion. The Hayes family has six children—which means that, even at a family restaurant like Applebee’s, the dinner bill can be expensive.
He said that the song is an accurate representation of his life, so he is touched that it struck a chord with people around the world.
“Honestly, I just wrote about my family,” he said in an interview. “There’s no pretentiousness there. It’s just who we are. When you get to be that honest and the public reacts, it’s a real magical thing. And the dances, that’s just me being a dad.”
In some ways, it seems as though Hayes’ use of the phrase “fancy-like” might be a jab at upper-class people who look down on working-class “hillbillies.” The phrase sounds like a stereotype of how someone might mock a rural Southerner’s dialect.
By using this turn of phrase, he both acknowledges the humor in seeing a chain restaurant like Applebee’s as a high-end date night destination and pokes fun at the people who are so self-important, they can’t enjoy a simple dinner without it being in a bougie restaurant.
Squeaky-Squeakin’ In The Truck Bed
Fans were quick to interpret one line in a particularly dirty way. In the second verse, Hayes sings:
Bougie like Natty in the Styrofoam
Squeaky-squeakin’ in the truck bed all the way home
Assuming that this line referred to the couple getting intimate in the truck bed, fans had other questions—most notably, who was driving the truck while this was happening?
But the singer assured fans that the line didn’t mean that hanky panky was going on. It was a continuation of the previous line, which refers to “Natty”—Natural Light Beer, a popular brand in Alabama—in a Styrofoam cooler.
In a video on TikTok, he explained that it was “just what happens with a Styrofoam cooler in a truck, if you’ve ever driven one around. It squeaks a lot. It’ll drive you crazy.”
The Legacy Of “Fancy Like”
One claim to fame that Hayes now has is getting the Applebee’s chain to resurrect its Oreo shake, which it had discontinued in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The song was so popular that the restaurant took a lead from the lyrics and chose to reintroduce the menu item in 2021.
They also used the track in an ad campaign called “Celebrate Date Night Across America.” The campaign featured clips of people performing the viral TikTok dance, including Hayes and his daughter.
The Kesha Remix
In September 2021, Fancy Like was released as a remix with pop singer Ke$ha. It also featured new lyrics that she contributed, sharing her own preference for simple things.
Her verse included the lines, “Boy, put that Dom down, take me to Waffle House,” implying that she prefers a cheap meal at a greasy spoon chain over expensive Dom Perignon champagne.
Hayes said he enjoyed working with Ke$ha and loved her contributions to the remix. She is from Nashville, so they had similar experiences growing up in the American South. They released a music video together—the second one for the song—which featured them tailgating and dancing in the street in Los Angeles.
The COVID-19 pandemic certainly changed the world in many ways, and Hayes said that he was grateful to provide something to bring people together in a time of division and fear. For the country star, it was something he considered universally relatable—enjoying time with the people that you love, even if it was in a humble setting.
Meaning behind “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls
Meaning behind “Whiter Shade Of Pale” By Procol Harum
Ultimate list of TikTok dance songs
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.