One of the reasons Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” the out-of-nowhere bedroom-pop smash that dominated the charts for the entire summer, was so magical was that it utterly defied genre expectations. It’s not rap, exactly. It’s not country, either, and the country establishment basically broke down in figuring out what to do with the song. It’s not pop, even though it’s more successful as pop than any down-the-middle pop song in history. Maybe it’s all of those things. So why can’t it be a smooth, mellow soul-jazz meditation, too? Anderson .Paak thinks it can.
Back in May, when “Old Town Road” was still just an all-conquering smash and not quite a historic juggernaut yet, Anderson .Paak welcomed Lil Nas X to the stage at the Boston Calling festival. Lil Nas X took over .Paak’s stage for the two minutes that it takes to perform “Old Town Road.” And now Anderson .Paak has put his own spin on “Old Town Road,” covering it in studio on a recent visit to the BBC Live Lounge. His version of “Old Town Road” sounds nothing like anybody else’s version of “Old Town Road.”
.Paak played the Live Lounge with the help of the Free Nationals, his regular band. He played drums while singing, as he loves to do. He took a long interlude to speak in a fake British accent, which is probably charming to somebody somewhere. And he reinvented “Old Town Road” as a sleepily silky Saturday-afternoon groove. Watch it happen below.
“Old Town Road” might not be the #1 song in America anymore, but I don’t think Lil Nas X has to worry about Anderson .Paak’s version becoming the definitive one.