Why ‘Old Town Road’ Has Been A Megahit, According To Billboard’s Chart Director | Nashville Public Radio

Why ‘Old Town Road’ Has Been A Megahit, According To Billboard’s Chart Director

Aug 8, 2019

“Old Town Road” is still riding the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100. Lil Nas X’s breakout country rap hit broke the previous 16-week record held by Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito.”

Now, it’s 18 weeks and four remixes in, with little sign of the phenomenon ending.

WPLN’s Rachel Iacovone spoke with Billboard’s senior director of charts, Keith Caulfield, to try to understand how Lil Nas X and his “Old Town Road” have managed to do it.

Listen to the conversation above. Highlights:

  • Billboard stands by its decision to remove “Old Town Road” from the Hot Country chart, though its director admits the track is on the “borderline.”
  • There are four official remixes of the song: a version with Billy Ray Cyrus; then a Diplo remix of that remix; followed by a track with Billy Ray Cyrus, rapper Young Thug and viral yodeler Mason Ramsey; and finally, a remix with just Lil Nas X and RM of K-pop group BTS that was released last week.
  • Despite that seemingly high number, Lil Nas X didn’t invent the practice of releasing multiple mixes. Artists, like Mariah Carey, would put out several dance versions of their songs in the ’90s, and the previous record holder, “Despacito,” also crossed over to the Hot 100 chart when a remix was released with Justin Beiber.
  • Lil Nas X is part of Gen Z and a master at social media. When he first went viral on Tik Tok, it was a generation of his peers fueling his initial success.