The instrumental version of this song was released in 2018, the work of Dutch beat producer YoungKio. But it would come to the surface thanks to a union of genres that still causes confusion today. Rapper Lil’ Nas X picked up the beats, which included banjo samples from a Nine Inch Nails instrumental, and bought the rights to the song for just $30; he wrote the lyrics, inspired by the hard times he was going through, in just one day. Old Town Road initially met with some resistance from country people; Billboard dropped it from their country charts because they felt the song was not country enough. But Old Town Road wouldn’t stop; a remix version featuring Achy Breaky Heart hitmaker Billy Ray Cyrus helped propel the song into the stratosphere. Old Town Road ended up spending 19 weeks at the top of the US charts, a record. And it also led the way for other reasons. Lil Nas X (real name Montero Lamar Hill) came out as gay while the album was still number one in the US, becoming the only artist in history to do so.
Side B: Lizzo, Juice
It could have been a classic streamed straight from the mirror-ball dance floors of the early 1980s, but no, Lizzo’s Juice was a new hit of 2019, the anthem of thousands of body-positive Instagram posts. The song Truth Hurts had been a sleeper hit in 2018, but it was a sinking compared to Juice; a daring anthem of self-love as subtle as a Transformers movie. Juice’s mile-high chorus (“It’s not my fault I’m here letting loose / I’ve got to blame Goose / I’ve got to blame my juice, baby”) was as infectious as any in living memory.
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