Somehow, “Old Town Road” is still the #1 song in America. Two weeks ago, Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ leftfield country-rap smash broke the all-time Billboard record, sitting at #1 on the Hot 100 for a mind-boggling 17 weeks. And still, the song shows no signs of slowing down. It’s been weeks since the last “Old Town Road” remix — the one with BTS member RM — and months since the inevitable backlash should’ve sent the song plummeting back down the charts. It hasn’t happened. We are looking at an historical anomaly, a song that simply refuses to lose steam.
Today, Billboard reports that “Old Town Road” currently sits at #1 for a brain-shattering 19th week. Once again, nothing has come close to dethroning it. Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” another out-of-nowhere megahit, remains stuck at #2, marooned behind “Old Town Road” on the charts for a ninth week. (At this point, it seems safe to say that “Bad Guy” would be “Old Town Road” if “Old Town Road” had never existed. This summer has seen two different outsider-pop Cinderella stories; it’s just that one is much bigger than the other.)
A pet theory: At this point, nobody want to be the one to dethrone “Old Town Road.” Early on, a whole ton of big names — Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, most famously Taylor Swift — released songs that came in at #2 but failed to knock “Old Town Road” down. All those victories over famous runners-up have been key to the “Old Town Road” mystique. And until the momentum of “Old Town Road” finally flags, it appears that the music industry has simply stopped releasing would-be smashes. This week’s highest-charting new entry, Ariana Grande and Social House’s “Boyfriend,” debuted at #8. And right now, it really seems like everyone is simply staying out of the way of a culture-capturing phenomenon.
Maybe last Friday’s highest-profile new single, the Megan Thee Stallion/Nicki Minaj/Ty Dolla $ign collab “Hot Girl Summer,” will finally be the one to best “Old Town Road.” Or maybe it’ll be another 19 weeks before anyone stops “Old Town Road.”