I love few things as much as I love unexpected friendships. That's part of what makes the video of Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus performing "Old Town Road" so fun. That, and the fact that they combined forces to right the wrong the Billboard charts made when they removed "Old Town Road" from their country charts. You know when Billy Ray Cyrus gets involved, he must mean business, and now that he and Lil Nas X have proven to be the most dynamic musical duo I can only hope we'll see a lot more from them.
Surely, you know Billy Ray Cyrus as Miley Cyrus' father, but you must also know him from his hit "Achy Breaky Heart." Straight up: I used to listen to that song as a wee babe at my local farm festival while my grandparents played bingo under a pavilion. That is 100 percent the truth. Today, Cyrus' music stretches from the fine folk in my home turf of Central Pennsylvania to the stage in Indio, California where he and Lil Nas X treated festival goers to their hit collaboration. Together, they popped up at Stagecoach during Jason Aldean's set on Sunday, April 28, and the crowd was loving it.
Frankly, the video of the two performing is awesome, hilarious, and everything you expected out of them in a live set. Cyrus strummed his guitar center stage in a cowboy hat while Nas X rapped around him in a full-fringe ensemble. The crowd bopped and bounced as if they were at a rap or rock concert, though the tell-tale sounds of country twang reverberated through the speakers.
And this is the magic of "Old Town Road." Check out the video:
The pictures aren't too bad, either.
Back in the day, under usual music industry standards and expectations, the 20-year-old up and coming rapper would never work with the 57-year-old country legend. But, this ain't back in the day. This is 2019, and rap and country can mix and mingle as much as they damn well please.
When Lil Nas X first debuted "Old Town Road," the hybrid debuted on Billboard's cross-genre Hot 100 chart, Hot Country Songs chart, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Honestly? Pretty impressive. Notably, the lyrics include loads of traditional country imagery. Ya know, Nas X talks about things like boots, tractors, porches, horses, and of course, an old town road. However, after a little bit of time, Billboard changed their mind and removed the hit from its country list. In a statement to ET, Billboard explained it simply "wasn't country enough." The statement said:
When determining genres, a few factors are examined, but first and foremost is musical composition. While 'Old Town Road' incorporates referenced to country and cowboy imagery it does not embrace enough elements of today's country music to chart in its current version.
Frankly, Billy Ray Cyrus felt differently. He combined his OG country status powers with Lil Nas X's enthusiasm and the collaboration track was born.
Today, rap fans are finding themselves listening to country and vice versa. I think, every now and then, we all need a chance to just ride our horse until we can't no more, know what I mean?