On Friday, amid the controversy brewing in the music industry over “Old Town Road,” the polarizing rap-country single by Lil Nas X, the 19-year-old Atlanta musician released the first official remix of his breakout hit, featuring Billy Ray Cyrus and thus cementing its status as a country song — so take that, country charts! As is to be expected in response to a crossover event that could only exist in 2019, once the meme-makers of the world heard Cyrus lending a little bit of his achy breaky heart to the track, they immediately began sharing their (frankly delightful) takes on the genre-bending rap-country smash.
First, to recap: The original, Cyrus-less song — full title: “Old Town Road (I Got The Horses In The Back)” — hit number 19 on the Hot Country Billboard chart last week before being removed because it supposedly didn’t “embrace enough elements” of country music. In his own defense, Lil Nas X noted on Twitter that “country music is evolving” and it is, thanks in large part to young artists like him who introduce completely new sounds to the genre.
Cyrus, too, felt compelled to comment on the matter of Lil Nas X’s song being deemed not country enough by Billboard. “It was so obvious to me after hearing the song just one time. I was thinking, what’s not country about it? What’s the rudimentary element of a country and western song? Then I thought, it’s honest, humble, and has an infectious hook, and a banjo. What the hell more do ya need?” he tweeted. “A few days passed and I went to the studio to do vocals. When I finished the pass, I whistled at the end of the song. Thats when the engineer stood up and said, ‘that shit is fire.'”
And the rest is history. Currently, both versions of the track are charting on iTunes, with the remix at number one and the original at number three, and the internet cannot get enough. Miley Cyrus and Ellen DeGeneres were just two of the many Twitter users who added their two cents to the massive hype around the track — including many who admitted that Lil Nas X had converted them to country music fans.