Viral, genre-defying “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, and featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, now has an official movie. Not a music video, but a movie. It’s cinema, baby.
The movie starts out with Lil Nas X and Cyrus in the Wild West circa 1889, hiding out after their latest successful bank robbery. When they’re chased off by a gunslinging cowboy, Lil Nas X dives into a wormhole — and lands in 2019. He wanders the new old town road with his horse, stumbling through modern day streets. Chris Rock is also there. So is Detective Pikachu co-star Diplo. Billy Ray dons sparkly pink cowboy attire. They end up in a bingo hall with a Western theme. It’s amazing.
The five-minute-long Western is every bit as genre-defying and epic as the saga of the song it is based on.
Lil Nas X uploaded the first music video for “Old Town Road” to YouTube in December 2018, setting the song to clips of his character from Red Dead Online. In 2019, the song crept onto TikTok, and blew up as a meme. The standard riff involved dancing to the song, then switching into cowboy attire once the bass dropped, though there were plenty of subversions to come.
In March, the song debuted on the BIllboard Country Music chart — and was promptly removed because Billboard declared it wasn’t country enough. This prompted outrage not only from Lil Nas X fans and TikTok members, as well as established country musicians. In early April, Lil Nas X released a remix, featuring country crooner Billy Ray Cyrus. Part of the video alludes to the Billboard fiasco.
“I don’t know, man,” says Cowboy Lil Nas X, after Billy Ray declares that the duo should settle in for the night. “Last time I was here, they weren’t too welcoming to outsiders.”
The saga of “Old Town Road” didn’t conclude with the Billy Ray Cyrus remix: Other artists have covered it, including rapper CupcaKKe with the raunchy “Old Town Hoe,” and the memes haven’t died down, especially now that it’s moved out of the TikTok space and into the mainstream. Thank the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones for keeping things alive.
With this foray into cinema, “Old Town Road” has done it all, having been a video game music video, a TikTok meme, a chart topper, and a music industry disrupter. It’s spawned memes across all social networks, has inspired other artists to try their hand at some Yeehaw music, and now blesses us with Billy Ray Cyrus in a pink cowboy suit.