Last week Billboard yanked a viral rap song, “Old Town Road” by Lil Naz X, from their Hot Country Songs chart because it “didn’t embrace enough elements of today’s country music.”
Well, now it’s at #53 on their Country Airplay chart, because that chart measures what’s getting played on country stations.
Now, the Hot Country Songs chart includes radio airplay too. But, it also includes digital sales and streaming. So if we all started playing “Baby Shark”, even something as silly as that would make the Country Airplay chart.
That said, “Old Town Road” did get some help from the Billy Ray Cyrus remix where he does the first verse. Here’s what Billy had to say about it on Twitter.
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?
— Billy Ray Cyrus (@billyraycyrus) April 5, 2019
Other country stars have weighed in on the controversy as well:
Backstage at the ACM Awards earlier this week, the show’s host, Reba McEntire, weighed in on the controversy. While she wasn’t familiar with Lil Nas X’s song, Reba tells us she was surprised that any song that blurs the lines would be removed from the country chart. “Country music has always been very diversified. One time it’ll be very traditional then it’ll be very contemporary then it’ll all go with the girls then it’ll all go with the boys and then everything changes up. It’s cyclical, but I think we’ve had that before. I didn’t know this about taking it off the charts. I’m very surprised because I think it’s been very open in a way except for the women recording.”
Brothers Osborne’s John Osborne was singing a different tune, telling Billboard that there’s no place for a song like “Old Town Road” on country radio. He said, “There are a ton of girls just waiting for the moment, writing great songs . . . then this guy comes along and puts out a song with quasi-country lyrics. Go listen to Kris Kristofferson and then go listen to (‘Old Town Road’) and if you tell me they have anything to do with each other, then I will quit. I’m out. I’m done with the genre.”
FGL’s Tyler Hubbardsaid, “If you’re trying to put things in a box or a genre, you’re kind of wasting your time. If you like the song, play the song, if you don’t then don’t.” Brian Kelley added, “If we sit here and try to figure out if it’s country or not, we miss the point of it being a great song. I mean that as respectfully as possible. I love the song. I don’t think the question is whether it’s country or not; it could probably fit in there. I don’t have a problem with that at all.”
What do you think? Is it country, is it not? Sound off and vote in our poll below!