“Old Town Road” continues its reign at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the sixth week in a row. The song was the No. 1 greatest airplay gainer on the Mediabase rhythm and urban airplay charts this week, notching over 99 million in total radio audience. Together with the Billy Ray Cyrus and Diplo remixes, “Old Town Road” has accumulated over 1 billion worldwide streams to date and has sold over 4 Million combined units in the US alone.
Listen, I know that I will probably get a backlash of haters when I say this, but if I am being completely honest, I do not get the popularity of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X. Adding Billy Ray Cyrus into a remix of it does not make the song any better to me or more country, either.
I remember the recent uproar that came from the song being pulled from the Billboard Country Chart. If anything, that merely propelled his fanbase and more people to bolster this song up seeing him as being done wrongly. And, in all honestly, that was not a fair move to Lil Nas X. They should have just left it on there since it got on the country chart in the first place. Although, I am legitimately baffled as to how. However, many of the current songs on the country charts being played on country radio aren’t all that country, either. If you measure by 90’s country standards and before, not country at all. Really stretching it, as far as I am concerned.
What REALLY makes a song country anymore? Well, it used to be the strong storytelling in the lyrics, a twang in the singer’s voice, and the addition of such instruments as: fiddle, dobro, steel guitar, and banjo.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I DO enjoy much of the country music coming out of Nashville nowadays. There are definitely some songs I turn away from when they come on the radio, like Hardy’s “REDNECKER“, because I see this song as embarrassing, as well. I’m just plain tired of bro-country with songs about tailgates, girls in tight jeans, and beer. Enough already.
Please, as a music fan who enjoys all kinds of music in the different genres, but predominantly the country genre, don’t insult my intelligence. Neither of these songs are good.
“My town’s smaller than your town
And i got a bigger buck and bass on my wall
Got a little more kick in my drawl
Y’all i got little more spit in my chaw
My truck’s louder than your truck
And my collar’s a little more blue
You might think that you’re redneck
But I’m rednecker than you
Yes I am
I got a car parked in my front yard
With a floorboard full of slim jeans
I piss where i want to
And i fish Where i swim yeah
I bet you you ain’t got it on a tailgate
Or killed a copperhead a time or two
Man if you’re thinking you’re a better
Beer drinker buddy I’ve got news for you” –from HARDY’s “REDNECKER”
Wow, such poignant, thought-provoking lyrics…not. Just because I like country music and I was born/grew up in the south, it does not make me a redneck. Very few southerners are, but this song makes it seem like we are competing to see who is more redneck, as if it’s something to be proud of. If you consider yourself redneck and proud of it, then more power to you. I would just prefer to NOT be thought of as a redneck since the connotations attached to that word are not necessarily positive. Lord knows that living in the South and here in Nashville, we have tried to erase that stereotype that so many from others regions assume of people from the south.
Then, there are these EQUALLY as poignant and thought-provoking lyrics <insert sarcasm> by Lil Nas X from “Old Town Road”:
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’
Ridin’ on a tractor
Lean all in my bladder
Cheated on my baby
You can go and ask her
My life is a movie
Bull ridin’ and boobies
Cowboy hat from Gucci
Both of these songs are equally bad. Just bad. Period. You aren’t going to convince me otherwise. Both are equally unlistenable, in my opinion.
However, it’s Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus that perplexes me the most and the reason for this rant I seem to be on today.
Sure, go ahead and add Billy Ray Cyrus to make this seem like a country song. Cyrus is an older country artist that saw his prime in the 90’s with his hit, “Achy Breaky Heart”. He is trying to stay relevant as best he can since his songs are not getting played on the radio anymore. This is just an opportunity to ride the wave of popularity and jump on the bandwagon at the moment by latching onto this particular song. This song has the same kind of popularity as Rebecca Black’s “Friday” a few years back, which as of today has garnered over 132 million views on You Tube because the song was so bad, weak singing, and the video cheaply-done and corny.
The new video remix of “Old Town Road” by Lil X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus just came out yesterday and already has racked up over 7 million views and counting on You Tube. This video might not be as cheaply-done as the original video that was put out, but it certainly falls into the corny category. Yes, let’s add in silly looking country/western-style suits worn in the 60’s & 70’s to match some big cowboy hats along with an older country artist to make this country. To me, the whole song and video is poking fun of country music and perpetuates an embarrassing stereotype of what country is.
Granted, at the moment, it is a little difficult to distinguish between country and pop. There is everything from Chris Stapleton to Sam Hunt for listeners to enjoy. Basically, there is something for everybody in the genre right now. It appeals to a much broader audience, but in the process of stretching out the genre, I feel like country music has started to lose its way and its identity of just what makes country music country. What is country music? What is it really becoming?
I can certainly appreciate artists like Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt, equally. I DO like both, but they ARE very different. My point to this whole article is this…I don’t want poorly-written lyrics, weak singing, and corny music videos. Give me some depth, more storytelling, strong singing, add a little fiddle and steel from time to time, quality, and don’t insult my intelligence as a country music listener, please. While we’re at it, can we please include an equal balance of women in the mix of what gets played on the radio? There are some great songs and tremendous voices that are getting overlooked.