With over 143 million streams nationwide, and a third week settled atop the Billboard Hot 100, Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ with Billy Ray Cyrus has launched a pop-oriented country back into their cowboy boots.
The original version of the hit initially hit the music world with controversy of its genre. Billboard removed the song from the country charts and sparked rumors of racism in the already conservative, Caucasian community that is Country music.
“When determining genres, a few factors are examined, but first and foremost is musical composition. While ‘Old Town Road’ incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version,” Billboard said in a statement. “Our decision to take the song off of the country chart had absolutely nothing to do with the race of the artist.”
However, many people weren’t convinced and took to social media to express their frustration with the company’s decision.
“It’s got plenty of ‘country elements’,” said Meghan Linsey on twitter. “It’s as ‘country’ as anything on the country radio.”
Admittedly, there’s a truth to her words. When groups like Florida Georgia Line team up with the rapper Nelly and Jason Derulo, the line that definitively makes something ‘country’ becomes more and more blurred – so it might not be that much of a stretch to actually call it country.
As we already know, Bill Ray Cyrus chimed in his opinion and that’s how the now iconic duo came to creating their remix of the original song. Within hours of its release, it soared to No. 1 on ITunes and currently sits as the reigning champion on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song truly gained its traction on the social media app, Tik Tok, formerly known as Musical.ly where users would play the song in a running gag where they or their pets would become cowboys after drinking “yee-yee” juice. The fun, and imaginative joke did nothing short of spiral out of control and led to the fame Lil Nas X’s song now holds.
Yet putting aside the humor of it all, ‘Old Town Road’ is simply enjoyable. Its molding of rap and country music isn’t a new practice, but done in such an exciting and almost cheesy way that makes it all the better.
When unironically, the top-chart hits of country music are about oversexualized women being objectified, or about just how much a man can love his tractor, truck, or tequila (Not necessarily in that order) it’s refreshing to see someone poke a little fun at it in a creative way that’s actually nice to listen to.
Old Town Road ushers in a new form of country music, and although it does satirize, it also breathes new life into the tired genre. Lil Nas X brought in a new generation of tractor riding, and cowboy-hat-toting listeners to a group many listed as ‘the one genre I don’t like’, and for that, Old Town Road should be receiving thanks instead of criticism.