UPDATE: Y’all, it happened. On Monday afternoon, Billboard updated the Hot 100 chart, and “Old Town Road” is at the top for a record-breaking 17th week. Sorry Mariah, but it had to happen eventually. I have a feeling it’ll be a long time before another song spends this many weeks at the top, but either way, Lil Nas X has officially cemented his place in history. What a time to be alive. I’m happy about this, but I’m still thinking about how we’re going to explain this song to our kids in 20 years.
Well, look at that. It’s been literal months, and I still can’t stop listening to “Old Town Road.” Clearly I’m not the only one, because it’s still at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. If you’re thinking that this seems like a really long time for one song to stay at number one, that’s because it is. This week, “Old Town Road” is spending a record-tying 16th week at the top of the chart. Six months ago, none of us had even heard of Lil Nas X, and now he’s about to break a record that’s been going strong for 23 years.
If you don’t usually pay attention to the music charts, try spending a little more time on Reddit. Just kidding, don’t do it. Let’s go over a little background of what all of this actually means. The Hot 100, which is the main chart for singles in the US, dates all the way back to 1958. The formula for ranking the songs has changed a lot over the years, but now it’s a mix of three categories: airplay, sales, and streaming. Obviously Spotify didn’t exist in the ’50s, and the chart has evolved to reflect that. The current record of 16 weeks was first set in 1996 by “One Sweet Day,” a classic Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men collab. If you’re unfamiliar, go listen, that sh*t still slaps.
THANK U TO EVERYBODY WHO STREAMED OLD TOWN ROAD THIS WEEK!! IN A FEW DAYS WE FIND OUT IF WE BROKE THE RECORD!! ITS BEEN A LONG JOURNEY & WHETHER WE HIT IT OR NOT I APPRECIATE & LOVE ALL OF YOU!! ?⚡️⚡️⚡️
— nope (@LilNasX) July 26, 2019
While Mariah has kept the crown since I was literally in diapers, this isn’t the first time that someone has come close to snatching her record. In 2017, “Despacito” also spent 16 weeks at the top, before finally being dethroned by Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” (we’ll get back to Taylor Swift in a minute). Even if Mariah Carey’s 16-week record is toppled next week, she still has some other records that aren’t in danger. She’s the only artist to have her first five singles hit number one, and she’s also tied with Elvis Presley for the most number-one singles by a solo artist. She’ll be fine, and she hilariously told a paparazzi the other day that she doesn’t care about the record being broken.
Let’s get back to “Old Town Road.” One of my favorite things about Lil Nas X’s reign at the top of the charts is how many other artists he’s blocked from getting a number one. Stars who would normally expect a number-one debut have been stalled at number two for months on end, and it’s hilarious. Taylor Swift may have been the one to dethrone “Despacito,” but she’s tried and failed twice to beat “Old Town Road.” Shawn Mendes has also been blocked twice, once with Camila Cabello. Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber tried with “I Don’t Care,” but it didn’t work for them either. Most recently, Billie Eilish’s song “Bad Guy” has been stuck at number two for several weeks, and even a Justin Bieber remix wasn’t enough to push it to the top. “Old Town Road” started as a meme, but now it’s a giant killer of historic proportions.
When you ask Taylor Swift how she really feels about “Old Town Road”:
In the last few weeks, Lil Nas X’s lead over his nearest competition has been narrowing, and all good things must come to an end eventually. He’ll likely have enough Hot 100 chart points to notch a rec0rd-breaking 17th week, especially because his nearest competition—Billie Eilish—has also been losing steam on the chart. The only really big artist to drop a single last week was Taylor Swift, but by releasing “The Archer” on a Tuesday, it only had three days of tracking for the Hot 100 that will be released next Monday. Barring something unexpected (I was about to say tragedy, but that feels dramatic), the record is Lil Nas X’s to lose.
And even if Lil Nas X isn’t at the top of next week’s Hot 100, he’s already made plenty of history. He has the longest-running chart-topper for a debut single, and the longest for an openly gay artist. I was so excited when Lil Nas X came out last month, because he really does have the chance to make a positive change in both the hip hop community and the music industry in general. It doesn’t seem like this should be a big deal in 2019, but it still is.
Even if you don’t love “Old Town Road” (what are you doing with your life?), you’ve got to admit that it’s inspired some truly amazing memes. I’ve been going strong on Lil Nas X memes for months now, and honestly, I have no desire to stop any time soon.
I could literally post seven of my own memes here, but I will selflessly spread the love.
While we’ve talked a lot about the chart power of “Old Town Road,” maybe we haven’t even begun to explore its political potential? Honestly, I’m willing to explore this route. Nancy Pelosi, u up?
Maybe Lil Nas X can trick Nancy Pelosi into doing some sort of Old Town Road Impeachment remix. I'm open to try anything and he seems very powerful.
— Vinegar Mike ?️? (@VinegarMike) July 25, 2019
We all love the memes, and so does Lil Nas X. This week, he’s been having a great time getting his fans to stream the song as much as possible, retweeting sh*t like this:
Listening to Lil Nas remixes of Old Town Road so he can have the longest running song on the charts pic.twitter.com/3fOeLiFVLs
— Berry (@PinkMiruku) July 23, 2019
Honestly, where did they find this photo of me, because I feel very seen.
However you feel about “Old Town Road,” we all should applaud Lil Nas X. He’s already a queer icon, his debut single is one of the biggest songs of all time, and he’s also hilarious and humble on social media. Who knows where his career will go from here, but I have a feeling it’s going to be fun to watch, whatever happens.
Images: Getty Images; LilNasX, vinegarmike, pinkmiruku / Twitter; dylanhafer / Instagram; Giphy