Old Town Road

By Wikipedia Contributors

2018 song by Lil Nas X
Old Town Road cover.jpg

"Old Town Road" is a song by American rapper Lil Nas X. It was initially released independently on December 3, 2018, and gained popularity on social video sharing app TikTok. As a result, Lil Nas X was signed to Columbia Records, which now distributes the single. The song was produced by YoungKio and features a sample of the instrumental piece "34 Ghosts IV" by Nine Inch Nails, with the band members receiving songwriting and production credits. It was included alongside its remix on Lil Nas X's debut EP, 7.

"Old Town Road" has been officially remixed four times, featuring a different array of guest artists. A remix of the song featuring Billy Ray Cyrus was released on April 5, 2019. A second remix of the song featuring Cyrus and Diplo was released on April 29, 2019. Another remix featuring American rapper Young Thug and American singer Mason Ramsey was released on July 12, 2019.[1][2][3] A fourth remix entitled "Seoul Town Road" featuring South Korean rapper RM was released on July 24, 2019.[4]

In March 2019, the song reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart before the magazine disqualified it from being included on the chart on grounds that it did not fit the country genre, sparking a debate on the definition of the genre.[5] Had it not been disqualified, "Old Town Road" would have been the Hot Country Songs number-one song, as of the chart dated April 6, 2019.[6]

Though the song was not re-entered onto the overall country charts, both the original version of the song and the remix featuring Cyrus eventually peaked at number one on the flagship Billboard chart, the Hot 100, for a consecutive sixteen weeks.[7][8] The song was the first-ever number-one song on the Rolling Stone Top 100 chart.[9] Internationally, one or more versions of "Old Town Road" have topped the national singles charts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom; and charted within the top ten in various other markets.

Background

Lil Nas X (left) bought the beat for "Old Town Road" anonymously on an online store from producer YoungKio (right) for just $30.[10]

Country rap, and its subgenre, country trap, emerged onto the mainstream following American rapper Young Thug's experimental mixtape Beautiful Thugger Girls (2017). Lil Nas X has cited Young Thug as a pioneer of the country trap genre.[11] In May 2018, Lil Tracy and Lil Uzi Vert reignited the trend with their country rap single "Like a Farmer (Remix)".[12][13]

In 2018, Lil Nas X dropped out of college to pursue a musical career, but was discouraged by his parents. He moved in with his sister, spending time promoting his music on the Internet while getting just three hours of sleep each night. Lil Nas X began writing "Old Town Road" after he felt like he was "out of options." Lil Nas X says his sister's and parents' frustration inspired the song's chorus, "can't nobody tell me nothing." Within the month of writing it, Lil Nas X chose to spin the song's meaning so that the "old town road" would be a symbol of success.[11]

Dutch record producer YoungKio produced the beat a year prior to the song's release and uploaded it to his online store for selling beats. He sampled Nine Inch Nails' track "34 Ghosts IV" and kept the song intact instead of chopping it as a challenge to himself, saying he "didn't really have any country thoughts about it." He had never heard of Nine Inch Nails prior to stumbling upon "34 Ghosts IV".[10] Lil Nas X bought the beat from YoungKio for $30,[10] but since purchases on his online store were anonymous, YoungKio didn't know the song was purchased by Lil Nas X until he saw it in an Instagram meme in December 2018.[14]

Composition

Sample of "Old Town Road" featuring the chorus and part of the first verse
Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Old Town Road" has been variously described by publications as a country rap,[15][16][17][18] country,[19][20][21] trap,[22][23][24] or Southern hip hop song.[25] Lil Nas X stated that he regards it as a "country trap" song.[11][26] Produced by YoungKio, "Old Town Road" samples Nine Inch Nails' track "34 Ghosts IV" from their sixth studio album Ghosts I–IV (2008).[27] The song prominently features the playing of a banjo along with trap-style Roland TR-808 drums and bass throughout.[5][28] It has been compared to Lil Tracy's 2018 single "Like a Farmer", which was later remixed by Lil Uzi Vert.[29] The song is composed in the key of B major with a chord progression of G7-Badd9-Fsus4-E6. It has an approximate tempo of 68 beats per minute.[30]

Release and promotion

"Old Town Road" was released independently as a single on December 3, 2018, during the rise of the "Yeehaw Agenda" meme, a movement appropriating cowboy fashion and culture.[31] Danny Kang, manager of viral country artist Mason Ramsey, suggested to Rolling Stone that Lil Nas X listed the song under the country music genre on SoundCloud and iTunes as a way to manipulate chart algorithms, as it would be easier to top the country charts than the dominant hip hop/rap charts.[5] Lil Nas X began creating memes to promote "Old Town Road" before it was picked up by TikTok users.[11] The song's first music video is composed entirely of footage and clips from the 2018 Western action-adventure game Red Dead Redemption 2.[32]

The song gained traction in late December 2018 after becoming the "Yeehaw Challenge" meme on TikTok, where users created short videos set to the song. The challenge is credited with launching the song to debut at number 83 on the Billboard Hot 100,[33] where the song has since peaked at number one on the chart.[34] The song's popularity grew so quickly that radio stations had to download the audio from YouTube.[5] On March 22, 2019, the success of the song allowed Lil Nas X to sign to Columbia Records, which now distributes the single.[27]

Billboard genre classification controversy

Billboard (logo pictured) controversially removed "Old Town Road" from its Hot Country Songs chart after it debuted at number 19.[35][36]

"Old Town Road" achieved a rare feat in Billboard history when it simultaneously charted on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Country Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts in March 2019.[a] However, Billboard quietly removed "Old Town Road" from its Hot Country chart for "not [embracing] enough elements of today's country music".[5] Lil Nas X stated he was "extremely disappointed" by the decision.[38] In an interview, Time reporter Andrew R. Chow brought up Billboard's decision to remove "Old Town Road" from the Country chart but keep it on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, asking Lil Nas X if he considers "Old Town Road" a country song. Lil Nas X replied, "The song is country trap. It's not one, it's not the other. It's both. It should be on both [charts]."[11]

The exclusion of "Old Town Road" brought criticism of the evaluation of the work of non-white artists in the country genre, with Rolling Stone writer Elias Leight referring to Beyoncé, another black artist, whose song "Daddy Lessons" failed to be considered a country song by The Recording Academy in 2016.[5] Leight also pointed out other difficulties faced by black artists making cross-genre music, noting that rapper Juice Wrld's Death Race for Love (2019) would "probably be the most commercially successful rock album of 2019", but would never appear on rock charts or playlists, another genre like country predominated by white artists.[5] In Robert Christgau's opinion, "Taking 'Old Town Road' off the country chart strikes me as racist pure and simple, because country radio remains racist regardless of the Darius Ruckers and Kane Browns it makes room for."[39] In light of the criticism, Billboard later stated that the decision to remove "Old Town Road" from the Hot Country Songs chart had nothing to do with Lil Nas X's race.[35][36] When asked if he believed the decision by Billboard had any racial undertones, Lil Nas X replied, "I believe whenever you're trying something new, it's always going to get some kind of bad reception."[11]

Despite being removed from the main Country Songs chart, "Old Town Road" managed to chart on Billboard's Country Airplay chart, debuting at number 53[40] and peaking at number 50 so far.[41] In response, Sony Music Nashville CEO Randy Goodman told Billboard that his team started testing the song in some country radio markets, adding "it would be negligent not to look at it".[40]

Commercial performance

In the United States, the original version of "Old Town Road" ascended to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week ending April 4, 2019;[7] at one minute and fifty-three seconds in length, it became the shortest number-one single since "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits in 1965 and the fifth-shortest in the history of the chart.[42] The following week, it and the newly-released remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus received a combined 143 million streams, surpassing Drake's "In My Feelings", which in 2018 had amassed 116.2 million in the same period, as the song with the highest single-week streaming figure in the country.[43] "Old Town Road" continued to exceed 100 million streams in each of the eight following weeks, and as of June 2019 is responsible for the three highest weekly U.S. streaming totals in the history of digital music, as well as nine of the eleven highest overall.[44][45] The song was certified triple Platinum on May 10, 2019 by the RIAA,[46] and has sold 1,180,000 copies in the United States as of July 2019.[47]

"Old Town Road" has topped the Hot 100 for sixteen consecutive weeks as of July 2019; its overall run at number one equals those of "One Sweet Day", by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, and "Despacito", by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, as the longest in chart history.[48] In eight of those weeks, it accumulated more than twice as many Hot 100 chart points as the song in the number two position, the most of any number-one single since "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, which did so for nine weeks in 1992 and 1993.[49] "Old Town Road" is the longest-leading hip hop song in the history of the chart, surpassing "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eyed Peas, and "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, which had each achieved twelve weeks at number one.[50] The single has also topped Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs,[51] Rhythmic Songs,[52] and Dance/Mix Show Airplay charts.[53] The magazine reports a single position for "Old Town Road" on each of these charts (including the Hot 100) that combines the performance figures of each version of the song; all are credited solely to the remix featuring Cyrus.[43]

Internationally, the original version of "Old Town Road" has topped the national singles charts in more than twelve other countries—including Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, and the United Kingdom—and charted within the top ten in at least five others. The remix featuring Cyrus has peaked within the top five in more than six countries, including at number one in Canada. Both versions of the song have been credited as number-one singles in Belgium and the Netherlands, and each of them has separately topped the New Zealand singles chart.

Personnel

Credits adapted from Tidal.[54]

Charts

Chart (2019) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[55] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[56] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[57][b] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[58][b] 1
Brazil (Crowley Charts)[59] 78
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[60][c] 3
China Airplay/FL (Billboard)[citation needed] 1
Czech Republic (Rádio Top 100)[61] 82
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[62] 2
Denmark (Tracklisten)[63] 1
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[64] 6
France (SNEP)[65] 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[66] 1
Greece (IFPI)[67] 4
Hungary (Single Top 40)[68] 1
Hungary (Stream Top 40)[69] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[70] 1
Israel (Media Forest)[71] 6
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[72][b] 5
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[73][b] 1
New Zealand (RMNZ)[74][c] 1
Norway (VG-lista)[75] 1
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 100)[76] 17
Portugal (AFP)[77] 1
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[78] 1
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[79] 2
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[80] 62
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[81] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[82] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[83] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[34][c] 1
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[84][c] 31
US Country Airplay (Billboard)[85][c] 50
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[86][d] 19
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[51][c] 1
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[88][c] 30
US Rhythmic (Billboard)[89][c] 23
US Rolling Stone Top 100[90] 1

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[55] 6× Platinum 420,000^
Belgium (BEA)[91] Platinum 40,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[92] Gold 45,000^
France (SNEP)[93] Platinum 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[94] Platinum 400,000^
Italy (FIMI)[95] Platinum 50,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[96] 3× Platinum 90,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[97] Platinum 20,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[98] Gold 20,000^
Sweden (GLF)[99] 2× Platinum 160,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[100] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[46] 3× Platinum 3,000,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Billy Ray Cyrus remix

Old Town Road Remix cover.jpg

"Old Town Road (Remix)", featuring American country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, was the first official remix of "Old Town Road" to be released. It was released on April 5, 2019 by Columbia Records. The remix was recorded in support of "Old Town Road" being recognized as a country song.[101] The remix was eventually included alongside the original on Lil Nas X's debut EP, 7.

Background

In December 2018, a day after the original version's release, Lil Nas X tweeted out that he wanted Cyrus on the song.[102]

Cyrus responded to Lil Nas X's comments by stating that he loved the original version the first time he heard it.[103] Cyrus also mentioned that he related to the song the first time he heard it, connecting the "old town road" to the Old Town Bridge in Argillite, Kentucky that he used to play on as a kid.[104] In response to Billboard removing "Old Town Road" from the Hot Country Songs chart, Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted his support for Lil Nas X and noted that the removal put him in the ranks of great outlaws like himself.[105] The remix has spent sixteen consecutive weeks at number one on the Hot 100, as of the issue dated July 27 surpassing "Achy Breaky Heart", which peaked at number four in 1992, as Billy Ray Cyrus' highest-charting single in the United States.

Remix personnel

Credits adapted from Tidal.[106]

  • Lil Nas X – main artist
  • Billy Ray Cyrus – featured artist
  • Jocelyn "Jozzy" Donald – background vocals
  • YoungKio – producer
  • Trent Reznor – sampled production
  • Atticus Ross – sampled production
  • Andrew "VoxGod" Bolooki – vocal producer
  • Joe Grasso – engineer
  • Cinco – recording engineer
  • Eric Lagg – mastering engineer

Charts

Weekly charts

Chart (2019) Peak
position
Argentina (Argentina Hot 100)[107] 85
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[57][b] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[58][b] 1
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[108][e] 1
Colombia (National-Report)[109] 59
CIS (Tophit)[110] 21
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[111] 3
Denmark (Tracklisten)[112] 2
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[113] 5
Greece (IFPI)[67] 3
Israel (Media Forest)[114] 4
Italy (FIMI)[115] 3
Malaysia (RIM)[116] 11
Mexico Ingles Airplay (Billboard)[117] 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[72][b] 5
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[118][b] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[119][e] 1
Romania (Airplay 100)[120] 12
Russia Airplay (Tophit)[121] 90
Singapore (RIAS)[122] 13
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[123] 2
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[80] 65
US Billboard Hot 100[124][e] 1
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[125]
[e]
16
US Country Airplay (Billboard)[126][e] 50
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[127] 34
US Dance/Mix Show Airplay (Billboard)[53] 1
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[128][e] 1
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[129]
[e]
3
US Rhythmic (Billboard)[130]
[e]
1

Monthly charts

Chart (2019) Peak
position
Brazil Streaming (Pro-Música Brasil)[131] 2

Music video

The music video for the remix was released on May 17, 2019. It has guest appearances from Chris Rock, Haha Davis, Rico Nasty, Diplo, Jozzy, Young Kio, and Vince Staples. The music video in question involves Lil Nas X and Cyrus characters who are cowboys transported from 1889 during the Wild West to present day 2019 in the titular town of Old Town Road where they interact with the locals.

Other remixes

Cover art for the other official remixes. Counter-clockwise from top: Diplo remix, Young Thug and Mason Ramsey remix, and RM remix.

Following the Billy Ray Cyrus remix, there have been three other official remixes of "Old Town Road". Each remix introduces a new colored horse or pony to the cover art that represents the guest artists.

Diplo remix

The single's second official remix, "Old Town Road (Diplo Remix)", was released on April 29, 2019 featuring additional production by American DJ Diplo. Country music website The Boot described it as a "remix of [a] remix" as it still retained vocals from Billy Ray Cyrus.[132]

Prior to the second remix, Diplo had recently created country music under the stage name Thomas Wesley. The remix was premiered at Diplo's set for the country music Stagecoach Festival alongside the first-ever live performance of "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X and Cyrus.[133][134] Just before Lil Nas X and Cyrus' surprise on-stage appearance at Stagecoach 2019, Diplo stated "Let me tell you, ["Old Town Road" is] a country song."[132]

The Diplo remix peaked at number 24 on the RMNZ New Zealand Hot Singles chart.[135]

Young Thug and Mason Ramsey remix

A third official remix titled "Old Town Road (Remix)" was released on July 12, 2019. The remix retains Billy Ray Cyrus' guest appearance and adds American rapper Young Thug and American singer Mason Ramsey. The remix was released in an effort to keep "Old Town Road" at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, as the song was two weeks away from tying for the all-time Hot 100 record held by "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men and "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee; it is now one week away from surpassing that record.[136][137]

On April 9, 2019, a third official remix of "Old Town Road" featuring Young Thug was previewed by Lil Nas X and Young Thug himself.[138] On July 2, 2019, Lil Nas X teased the remix again, tweeting out "🤠X🐍".[139] Lil Nas X released the cover art for the final remix of "Old Town Road" on July 11, 2019 and indicated that the remix would be released within a few hours.[136]

Young Thug has been credited with bringing country trap into the mainstream with his experimental mixtape Beautiful Thugger Girls (2017). Lil Nas X credited him with being a pioneer of bridging the gap between country and trap.[11] In an interview with Billboard in March 2019, producer YoungKio was asked who he would want for a remix of "Old Town Road". He responded that he would want the rapper, stating "I've listened to every single song of his, and I think he's qualified to do this remix. I've listened to Beautiful Thugger Girls, and he has some country vibes on there."[14]

American rapper Lil Wayne recorded a verse for the Young Thug remix that wasn't officially released, though it leaked on July 25, 2019.[140][141]

RM of BTS remix

The single's fourth official remix, "Seoul Town Road (Old Town Road Remix)", was released on July 24, 2019 featuring South Korean rapper RM of boyband BTS.[4] Lil Nas X has stated that "Seoul Town Road" would be the final remix.[142] It is the only official remix to not feature Cyrus.

Cupcakke remix

American rapper Cupcakke released her unofficial remix of "Old Town Road", titled "Old Town Hoe", on April 17, 2019. The remix reinterprets the lyric "I'm gonna ride 'til I can't no more" in a sexually explicit way.[143][144] A music video was later released in May 2019, and features Cupcakke and her backup dancers riding toy horses and handling phallic objects, including lollipops, water bottles, and corn on the cob.[145][146][147] Lil Nas X responded favorably to the remix.[148]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ While at least one source claims that this was the first instance,[33] there has been at least one other song to achieve that circumstance: "We Are the World", which appeared on six charts simultaneously, the aforementioned three plus the dance, adult contemporary, and rock charts.[37]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Credited to both the original version and the remix featuring Cyrus
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h The listed peak is the highest chart position attained by the original version of the song. The remix featuring Cyrus was released in early April 2019, and the performance of "Old Town Road" on this chart has been credited solely to that version in most or all subsequent weeks.
  4. ^ "Old Town Road" was removed from the Hot Country Songs chart in late March 2019 after Billboard reevaluated the song's genre and deemed it did not fit its qualifications for a country song.[87]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h The listed peak is the highest chart position attained by the song when credited to the remix featuring Cyrus

References

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External links