“I went into the realm of a loner cowboy, needing to run away from everything,” Lil Nas, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, told Apple Music in a press release. “But I also wanted to put it with what was on the rise, which is the whole meme culture — plus actually making it a listenable, catchy song.”
Despite its catchiness, the tune was not without its controversy. A debate erupted over whether or not the song, which features a banjo accompanied by a trap beat, is a country or rap tune. It led Billboard to pull the original solo version from the Hot Country Songs chart. This after it simultaneously debuted on the Hot Country Songs, the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the Hot 100 charts.
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Yet Lil Nas X got some help from country music star Billy Ray Cyrus on the first of many remixes for the earworm. Ultimately, "Old Town Road" spent 19 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart, plowing ahead of the record set in 1996 by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men with "One Sweet Day."
As Lil Nas continues to celebrate his win, other performers also have reason to celebrate at the Apple ceremony.
Billie Eilish won Global Artist of the Year and Lizzo won Breakthrough Artist of the Year.