Old Town Road (OTR) is the most successful song in the history of streaming music (as of July 31, 2019). It’s also a viral video phenomena. Nashville’s newspaper, the Tennessean said it’s the biggest song in Billboard Hot 100 history.
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Lil Nas X (whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill) is a singer/song-writer from the Atlanta area. His song ‘Old Town Road’ became an international sensation in the spring of 2019. The song was originally released via SoundCloud, and later re-mixed and released by Columbia Records.
How ‘Old Town Road’ Became A Viral Video Sensation
The viral video’s success on YouTube was no accident. As the Washington Post points out: “There’s an entire ecosystem around Old Town Road“. People all over the globe have been racing to ‘cover’ or remix the song. See for instance, this collection of OTR covers from USA, Brazil, Canada, Cambodia, France, Philippians, India, etc…. Matt Steffanina and his friends made an OTR dance video that has over 21 million views. Walk Off the Earth made an amazing hand-bell rendition. Even Donald Trump was recorded singing the lyrics to Old Town Road.
Miles McNutt analyzed how OTR made it to the top of the charts in the Washington Post, stating: “It’s easy to ignore the labor involved in viral content. A ‘virus’ spreads indiscriminately, as opposed through the work of its creators. Digital strategists have argued we should think of such content as ‘spreadable.’ That change in terminology allows us to see an important idea more clearly. OTR found its footing as a meme. However, without Lil Nas X’s decision to tap into TikTok’s creative community to get the song out there, the track might never have had the opportunity to become a cultural phenomenon.”
OTR followed a well-worn path (an old road) to success by using social media and releasing multiple remixes. “Many recent acts have used social media to promote their songs,” Silvio Pietroluongo of Billboard told Shawn Setaro. “Lil Nas X … presented more remixes, and in a staggered fashion, than most. He enlisted an impressive array of cross-genre acts to join in.”
‘Old Town Road’ MegaSmash Money Quote
“Lil Nas X decoded the zeitgeist across all the metrics that make a megasmash — virality, genre-blindness, remixability, stream-friendliness, event-worthiness. Whatever its (considerable) artistic merits, Old Town Road caught on because it is truly unique and irresistible. In other words, Lil Nas X didn’t ‘game the charts’ so much as play the game of the charts better than anyone. He’s gonna keep on riding, till he can’t no more.” ~ from an article by Chris Mulanphy – in Slate Magazine
What People Are Saying About ‘Old Town Road’
- Manager: How many times do you want to remix this song? Lil Nas X: Till I can’t no more.
- Mom: How many times are you going to listen to this song? Teenager: Till I can’t no more.
- “Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus and a wagon-load of remix collaborators galloped down OldTown Rd and into the pop culture record books.” ~ Matthew Liemkuehler – writing in the Nashville Tennessean
- “Lil Nas X has scored the longest-lasting #1 hit of all time because he either anticipated or leveraged several key factors that make a hit huge.” ~ Chris Mulanphy – in Slate Magazine
- “Centuries of American music were all building up to these 113 seconds of genius.” ~ Rob Sheffield / Rolling Stone
Product Tie Ins
- You might have noticed that the people in the video above are drinking Snapple.
- People kept stealing the “Old Town Rd” signs in Sicamous, British Columbia – so the local Chamber of Commerce started selling the signs.
- The lyric – “Wrangler on my booty” inspired a limited release collection of Wrangler blue jeans, for the kind of modern cowboy that can’t be put in a box.
If you liked OTR, you might also like Kenny Chesney’s old tune: There Goes My Life