Old Town Road
Chris Molanphy is a columnist for
In Old Town Road, Chris Molanphy considers Lil Nas X's debut single as pop artifact, chart phenomenon, and cultural watershed. “Old Town Road” was more than a massive hit, with the most weeks at No. 1 in Billboard Hot 100 history. It is also a prism through which to track the evolution of popular music consumption and the ways race influences how the music industry categorizes songs and artists. By both lionizing and satirizing genre tropes—it's a country song built from an alternative rock sample, a hip-hop song in which nobody raps, a comical song that transcends novelty, and a queer anthem—Lil Nas X troubles the very idea of genre. Ultimately, Molanphy shows how “Old Town Road” channeled decades of Americana to point the way toward our cultural future.