Hustling Along the Meme Leyline
May 10, 2019 11:29 AM   Subscribe

"Old Town Road" is a self-produced song from 19-year-old artist, Lil Nas X. It is the #1 song in America. The story of the song's ascension from a random track on Soundcloud to Billboard 100's #1 hit highlight a tightening relationship between artistic creation and mindful promotion.

Memes that once bubbled up randomly on the Internet are increasingly being created purposefully (and already have been weaponized politically).

The story of "Old Town Road" is a fascinating snapshot of the how things are being built and spread on the Internet right now, from browsing and licensing beats and producing music in a closet to targeting influencers with pre-packaged memes and seeding Reddit with leading questions about your song.

And once the song becomes undeniable, getting Billy Ray Cyrus to put out a remix/remake with you for mass media legitimacy.
posted by lubujackson (26 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Previously.
posted by zamboni at 11:47 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


That NYTimes video was really fun and interesting, very much worth a watch if you're on the fence.
posted by saladin at 11:48 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


I can't get over the incredible jiu jitsu of Billy Ray Cyrus recording a remix. It makes a statement in a way that forces the country music establishment to engage with the statement. You think it's not country enough? How about now?
posted by allegedly at 12:00 PM on May 10 [11 favorites]


Black cowboys and black soldiers have been part of Texas history for a long time.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:31 PM on May 10 [7 favorites]


Assuming I'm looking at the right versions of the songs and have the chronology right, it seems like the version featuring Billy Ray Cyrus is the one getting a lot of traction now.

Not that it's the first time that a remix has become much more popular than the 'original' version of a song, but wow has the remix (118M views) pushed the original (8.4M views) down pretty far in search results.

Or did YouTube do something crappy and tank the original's view count and search-results placement?
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:40 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I taught a class on country music this semester, focused on issues of race. This was like a gift from the gods.

And it’s a great damn song.
posted by spitbull at 12:49 PM on May 10 [24 favorites]


"Not country enough."

My eyes just rolled so far back in my head they blah blah blah something something institutional racism.
posted by greermahoney at 2:19 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I love the remix more than the original - the song needed that third verse and the contrast in vocals between Lil Nas X and Cyrus works really well. It's easy to take something great and screw it up with a remix but this one was a real success.
posted by allegedly at 2:45 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


As I nicknamed it, “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Volume 3.”

Go ahead and look who owned both the country and pop charts in 1962.
posted by spitbull at 2:56 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


The young woman in the unrelated video speaks like she's auto-tuned.
posted by victotronics at 3:11 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]




Less silly, Todd in the Shadows recently posted a video about "Old Town Road" that I thought was pretty insightful.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 3:39 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


He's 20 now!

One of my favorite parts of this is how the remix cover art upgrades from one horse to two.
posted by Freeze Peach at 5:38 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


I just want to know what (actual) Nas thinks about someone calling himself 'Lil Nas.'
posted by kickingtheground at 5:41 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


One of my favorite parts of this is how the remix cover art upgrades from one horse to two.

There's now a remix of the remix that upgrades it to three horses.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:44 PM on May 10


When I was growing up in the suburbs in the 1980's-90's, and kids/peers would ask what kind of music you liked, it was standard to say, "Oh, you know, everything except country and 'rap'." And I remember, sometime in my mid-twenties, I realized what that answer really meant, and it was like a million-watt lightbulb going on. This song (and the story of this song) is the best.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:16 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


One of my favorite parts of this is how the remix cover art upgrades from one horse to two.

@LilNasX: see he left and came back with help lol
posted by Lexica at 7:48 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I found it odd that the NY Times reporter referred to the song as "country rap" (and had to be corrected). Did he even listen to the song before he did the interview? Did he just assume that because the artist was named Lil Nas X that there must have been some rapping going on?
posted by Umami Dearest at 9:14 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


In a perfect world, this song sweeps the BET and CMA awards.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:41 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


1. I like the song. It’s dumb and irresistible, the way the best pop music should be.

2. I hope this ushers in an era of 2-minute-long hits, because that’d be fucking great.

3. Destroy all genres.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:43 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]


I can't get over the incredible jiu jitsu of Billy Ray Cyrus recording a remix. It makes a statement in a way that forces the country music establishment to engage with the statement. You think it's not country enough? How about now?

Right? On its objective merits, this is one of the most country-ass songs that's ever been countried. Way more country than all that "let's go blow up Muslims" shit that Toby Keith inflicted on the world.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:45 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


The part I love about this (besides the song, which I also love) is that it legitimizes my secret and very embarrassing love of TikTok (formerly musica.ly.) He is not kidding that TikTok wore cowboy hats for three weeks; I definitely heard this clip, and watched a lot of people dance to it, and then went to find the song, weeks before Billy Ray Cyrus. I mean, on the minus side, it's how I know all the words to Baby Shark as well, but on the plus side, it's how I found Billie Eillish last summer, too.

It's such a great song and I'm so pleased it happened for this kid, and also I am shocked that I currently have warm and fuzzy feelings about Billy Ray Cyrus.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:14 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]


The delightful PS 22 Chorus has posted their cover of Old Town Road. Just as with my kids, the line "Wrangler on my booty" elicits a lot of giggles.
posted by terooot at 10:05 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I think I like that one best of all. Also, not so nasal.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:49 PM on May 13


The "Official Movie" (not video) is out and it's charming.

And no, that's not Brad Pitt on washboard.
posted by maudlin at 5:06 PM on May 17 [10 favorites]


The "Official Movie" (not video) is out and it's charming.

Well, that was delightful.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:30 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


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