Lil Nas X may be the first “country-trap” artist to ever top the Billboard Hot 100, which is fitting considering he more-or-less coined the style (all props due to Lil Tracy and Lil Uzi Vert for “Like A Farmer” though), but he’s also got the distinction of having one of the shortest songs ever to reach No. 1 according to Stereogum. “Old Town Road” is the second-shortest No. 1 hit single of all time at 113 seconds long, only behind Maurice Williams And The Zodiacs’ 1960 doo-wop classic “Stay,” which clocks in at just 96 seconds long.
In fact, per Stereogum, there haven’t been all that many No. 1 songs under two minutes long and the most recent one came out in 1967 (The Box Tops’ “The Letter,” at 1:58, just barely making the cut). So while some may bewail the “new” trend of increasingly shorter and shorter singles, there is precedent — you just have to rewind back to the the beginnings of the modern recording industry to find them. There is truly very little new under the sun.
“Old Town Road” caused some controversy over its classification when Billboard removed the song from its Country chart, citing its lack of enough “country elements” to truly fit in the genre. Country duo Brothers Osborne seemed to share this assessment at the the recent ACMs (Academy of Country Music Awards) when they were asked about the track on the red carpet, saying that there were plenty of country artists who haven’t yet received their due from Billboard or a wider listening audience who should be honored before Lil Nas X. Meanwhile, Bill Ray Cyrus, who appears on the remix, doesn’t seem to have any qualms about the song’s provenance.
For Lil Nas X’s part, though, he just seems to be enjoying the attention and basking in the glow of success while his 15 minutes are on; today also happens to be his 20th birthday. Getting a No. 1 hit record is one heck of a gift.