What was role of Tik Tok in the rise of Old Town Road?

Lil Nas X and the Pop Song as Meme

It was a Twitter post from the American music writer Gary Suarez that first alerted my to the existence of Lil Nas X and Old Town Road. As soon as I saw the video featuring Billy Ray Cyrus I was hooked, and even more so when I read the back story. After being ‘removed’ from the Billboard Country charts, including Cryus was just such a beaufitful and clever move.

Anyway. I’m sure you’ll have seen or heard of Old Town Road by now. It’s hard to escape this summer, and my kids are singing it constantly. An interesting element of the whole story is the role played in the rise of Lil Nas X by new(ish) social media site Tik Tok. This was the subject of an article being written by another writer, Peter Yeung, who recently approached me for some thoughts on the matter. I was wary of supporting any claims around paradigm shifts, but Lil Nas X’s constant reworkings of the same song did make me think about pop songs and memes, and it was those thoughts that helped frame my contribution.

Peter’s article, ‘Tik Tok is altering the Music Industry’, is available to read here.

Dr Craig Hamilton
Dr Craig Hamilton

My research interests include popular music, digital humanities and online cultures.