A streaming bonanza helped Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” bound from Number 15 on the Hot 100 all the way to Number One on Monday, according to Billboard. “Old Town Road” was streamed over 46 million times during the week that ended April 4, more than any other song in the country.
Lil Nas X’s viral single took just six weeks to climb the Hot 100, an impressive feat for a previously unknown artist supporting his major-label debut. “Old Town Road,” which mixes elements of country and hip-hop, initially landed on both the country and rap charts in March. Billboard subsequently removed the song from the country chart on the grounds that it did not fit the current sound of the genre. This ignited a debate about genre restrictions and race.
The categorization decision also appears to have rapidly increased Lil Nas X’s listenership: Streams of his single grew last week by 60%, Billboard reports. Many listeners downloaded the viral single as well — it reached Number Three on the Digital Song Sales chart. In addition, pop radio has embraced the track: The song’s play-count went up by 1201 spins in the format week over week, according to Mediabase, which tracks radio activity.
Although “Old Town Road” can’t be found on the country chart, the single is being played by several country radio stations. Radio Disney Country is leading the charge, with 44 plays in the first week of April. A country station in Wisconsin owned by iHeartRadio has also played the track 15 times. And the prominent country radio personality Bobby Bones, whose popular morning show is syndicated across numerous markets, has supported Lil Nas X as well.
Billy Ray Cyrus joined Lil Nas X on an official “Old Town Road” remix last Friday. Cyrus has been a major booster of Lil Nas X on Twitter. “I knew this guy was gonna light up the world with this song,” he wrote recently. “This is what music is all about.”
In a statement issued over the weekend, Billboard said the presence of Cyrus, a Nineties country hitmaker, on the “Old Town Road” remix might lead the publication to revisit the single’s chart classification. “Billboard welcomes the excitement created by genre-blending tracks such as Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ and will continue to monitor how it is marketed and how fans respond,” the publication wrote. “Our initial decision to remove ‘Old Town Road’ from the Hot Country Songs chart could be revisited as these factors evolve.”
The addition of Cyrus to the “Old Town Road” remix will be felt primarily on the next edition of the Hot 100, because Billboard tracks sales and streaming data from Friday to Thursday. Any sales and streams of the remix will be lumped in with sales and streams of the original.