“Old Town Road” is now the #1 song in all of music. However it wasn’t just the infectiousness of the track that got it there. It was also due to indisputably incorrect and biased reporting by major media outlets, from legacy music magazines such as Rolling Stone, all the way up to NPR and The New York Times.
Lil Nas X
“This dude puts out a song with kind of quasi country lyrics? Something about a horse, boobies and some shit? Don’t create controversy and expect that to give you a hall pass. We need great songs. Go listen to Kris Kristofferson, and then go listen to that song, and if you tell me they have anything to do with each other.”
Out of all the mischaracertizations, malfeasance, hidden agendas, outright lies, and sheer ignorance behind Lil Nas X’s viral hit “Old Town Road” and its disputed place in the country genre, perhaps the most idiotic and out-of-touch development of them all has been this ludicrous notion that Billy Ray Cyrus is in any way relevant to country music.
We’d love to think that legendary golf pro Phil Mickelson hauled off and told Jake Owen “Go fuck yourself” recently for putting out garbage country music songs like “Beachin'” or for saying he’s collaborating with Lil Nas X on a hip-hop song. But the truth of the matter is the spat had to do with Phil’s primary occupation, not Jake’s.
See, this is the reason why showing concern of where and how songs are placed in music charts is so critical, and how making a simple mistake can cause dramatic reverberations throughout the music ecosystem where now you have long-standing institutions and entire genres of music being accused of outright racism.
The debate about what is country music and what isn’t is an eternal one. But a 1:53-long viral “song” that is really nothing more than an internet meme entitled “Old Town Road” by rapper “Lil Nas X” has rekindled the debate anew, with critical implications behind it.