Lil Nas X is nothing if not a shrewd businessman. The 20-year-old sensation is on the cusp of breaking the record for most weeks at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with his breakthrough single “Old Town Road” just one week shy of making history. So what has he done to boost the chances that his inescapable hit will earn that achievement? He’s dropped yet another version of “Old Town Road,” once again raising the song’s profile — and reminding fans of their love for it. (Cue streaming it on repeat.)
Released around midnight on July 25, Lil Nas X’s fourth(!) remix of the short ode to cowboy living brings in another of Billboard’s current all-stars: the superstar K-pop band BTS. Kim Nam-joon, a.k.a. RM, joins Lil Nas X for the wonderfully renamed “Seoul Town Road.” And given BTS’s endlessly devoted fan base and Lil Nas X’s ceaselessly rising star, “Seoul Town Road” seems like the rapper’s savviest collaboration yet. It’s also a quality one; there’s a reason BTS is running pop across both hemispheres right now. RM’s voice is a great complement to Lil Nas’s, and I’m in love with that lowkey pun of a title. (And you already know it’s dominating my playlists.)
The success of “Old Town Road” has been a long and winding ride. After its December 2018 release, TikTok users fell hard for the song, making a viral meme out of its country music tropes and a contagious trap beat. Its popularity then began to spread to the rest of America.
When the song landed on Billboard’s country music chart in April, it caused a stir among some country music fans, who argued that “Old Town Road” appropriated the genre’s themes and that its trap-infused melody should disqualify it from the country charts. But many other fans and fellow musicians embraced Lil Nas X, especially after Billboard reclassified “Old Town Road” as part of the general pop and hip-hop charts in a controversial move. Billy Ray Cyrus lent some cowboy cred to a light reworking of the song for its first remix; not long after that came a second remix featuring Diplo, followed by a third featuring a returning Billy Ray alongside rapper Young Thug and the Walmart yodeling kid, a.k.a. Mason Ramsey.
At this point, ad infinitum drops of surprising “Old Town Road” collabs feel like a foregone conclusion. They almost feel like a semimonthly event — one that I’m excited to attend each and every time.