Chris Molanphy is a columnist for
BESTRIDE 'til I Can't No More: How Lil Nas X Dominated 2019
Chapter 7 chronicles—week by week, milestone by milestone—how “Old Town Road” came to dominate 2019 pop culture and the charts. At the start of the year, Lil Nas X was still a closeted teenager living on his sister's couch; he was an independent recording artist trying to make his song go viral. By the summer, he would sign with a major label, team with a childhood hero on a remix, spawn headlines about the definition of country music and racism, break a string of chart records, come out as gay, and appear on the cover of Time magazine. These feats were all enabled by a confluence of digital-era phenomena and intersectional ferment.