Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ is now popular on the country charts, and that’s a big deal

By Herb Scribner

The viral sensation “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X is officially making an impact in the country music scene.

Billboard reports that the song debuted at No. 53 on the Country Airplay chart, receiving an audience gain of 2,655% in week-over-week.

  • The country airplay chart “measures both the number of times a song was played on a country radio station and the projected audience that the song has reached,” according to Uproxx.
  • The song has a 1 million audience from 140 plays on 35 reports, which account for 148 different stations, according to Billboard. Almost all the plays for song occur during the daytime drive.

Billboard reports that 78 plays came from Friday to Sunday after a remix of the song with Billy Ray Cyrus dropped last week.

A station in Wisconsin, WMAD, played the song 14 times between 6 a.m. and midnight during the past week, according to Billboard.

WMAD program director Katie Kruz said the station loves the Billy Ray Cyrus remix for country listeners.

  • “If it’s country enough for Billy Ray Cyrus, it’s country enough for me,” she said. “The rest of the (country panel) might not be playing it, but they have it stuck in their heads as they read this.”
  • “It’s fun. It’s 2019. Listener response over the weekend has been positive, for the most part. We posted it on our socials and, just like anything, there are some naysayers, but most people are loving the song and telling us that they cannot get it out of their heads.”

The song, which skyrocketed after being played on the app TikTok, already reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

Flashback: Last week, Rolling Stone reported that Billboard yanked the song from country charts because the song — which blends hip hop and country — wasn’t country enough.

Billboard did not announce the decision publicly. However, it released a statement to Rolling Stone, which said, “upon further review, it was determined that ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X does not currently merit inclusion on Billboard‘s country charts. 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.”

Cyrus, who released a remix on April 9, said the song is definitely a country one, according to The Washington Post.

  • “I loved the song the first time I heard it. Country music fans decide what they like. Not critics or anyone else,” Cyrus said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “Waylon Jennings once told me every once in a while the industry outlaws someone because they’re different. Country music fans don’t need to be defined by critics. I’ve always said, don’t think inside the box, don’t think outside the box. Think like there is no box. So, I’m honored to collaborate with Lil Nas X on ‘Old Town Road.'”

Regardless of its staying power as a country song, the popular hit flirts between country and hip-hop, according to The Atlantic. But, because of its popularity, “Old Town Road” proves that the genre of pop is always changing.

According to The Atlantic, the song breaks down walls and opens doors to new types of content. It’s a sign that pop, hip-hop and country can always change.

  • “Country, rock, rap — these are all terms for distinct sounds with distinct lineages, and it’s fair to argue over their boundaries. Pop, where ‘Old Town Road’ now reigns? That’s free range. Giddyup.”

2019-04-15T10:52:44+00:00