‘Old Town Road’: The song that just won’t quit
“As of now there is no American award—not the Grammy, not the Oscar—that could adequately reward the miracle that is ‘Old Town Road,’” said Jon Caramanica in The New York Times. Last week, the country-rap hit by Lil Nas X became the longest-running No. 1 single in Billboard history, reaching a streak of 17 weeks with the help of remixes and a wild history. The song originally broke out online, where Nas X, then 19, pushed it himself, launching a wave of copycats posting videos of themselves dancing to the track’s trap beat in cowboy hats. The song’s popularity hit a whole new level, though, when Billboard ruled in March that it didn’t belong on the country singles chart, creating a controversy that helped push it to No. 1 on the magazine’s pop chart a month later.
An act of rebellion helped, said Anne Steele in The Wall Street Journal. The song’s next leap occurred after country star Billy Ray Cyrus agreed to record a remix with Nas X. That version cemented the song’s hold on the top slot for weeks, and the run was extended by the May 17 release of a star-studded music video and a second remix that added a verse sung by a 12-year-old yodeler who’s an internet sensation himself. The size of the song’s child audience can’t be discounted, said Dan Kopf in Quartz.com. Though it’s impossible to measure how many kids have been listening to the song nonstop since falling in love with the simple melody and the lyrics about horses and cowboys, “Old Town Road” is clearly their summer jam. “Just go ask any of your friends with a 5- to 10-year-old.”
IFC Films, Matt Nettheim, Jon Pack, AP ■