Lil Nas X’s viral smash “Old Town Road” received an official country endorsement Thursday night, with Nineties hitmaker Billy Ray Cyrus contributing a verse to the single’s first remix.
Cyrus announces himself immediately by singing the first hook: “I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road/ I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more.” He shows up again towards the end of the banjo-heavy hip-pop single, adding a throaty verse that emphasizes the triumphant aspects of Lil Nas X’s hit: fancy jewelry, expensive cars and living a stress-free life. “Old Town Road” was short to start with, and even with another verse, it stays succinct, clocking in below 2:40.
“Old Town Road” became popular earlier this year on the app TikTok before leaping onto the Hot 100 four weeks ago. The track was labelled “country” on SoundCloud, and country radio stalwarts like Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley later endorsed the song on social media. “Old Town Road” initially debuted on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart.
Billboard subsequently removed “Old Town Road” from the country chart, suggesting “it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music.” While Cyrus did not directly address the genre credentials of “Old Town Road,” he showed his support for the song last week in an Instagram post to his 1.4 million followers. “Don’t try and think inside the box,” Cyrus wrote. “Don’t think outside the box. Think like there is no box. #HorsesInTheBack” — a reference to a lyric from “Old Town Road” that subsequently became a popular meme.
“Old Town Road” is at Number 15 on the latest Hot 100. The track continues to stream this week — it’s currently the only song on Spotify’s Top 5 in the U.S. not by Billie Eilish. It’s also gaining support from pop radio: 39 new stations added the song this week, according to Nielsen BDS.