Old Town Road

Duke Univ. (Singles). Nov. 2023. 144p. ISBN 9781478025511. pap. $19.95. MUSIC
As part of this publisher’s “Singles” series, Slate columnist Molanphy (Kurt Cobain: Voice of a Generation), host of the podcast Hit Parade, examines Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” a country music song with hip-hop elements, initially independently released in 2018. When it gained traction, Columbia Records re-released it in 2019. The book dives into the song’s history and its impact on music and popular culture. The debut single by Lil Nas X, born as by Montero Lamar Hill, had an unlikely journey to the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it set the record for most weeks at No. 1. Molanphy examines how Hill’s upbringing in Atlanta and his tech-savviness helped him navigate the internet and social media, and how Billboard’s March 2019 removal of “Old Town Road” from the country charts reflected the way race has historically influenced how the music industry categorizes songs and artists. Even so, the song challenged traditional notions of genre and revolutionized the industry, Molanphy argues.
VERDICT More than just an analysis of “Old Town Road.” This book has wide appeal for music and pop culture fans.
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