Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” makes genre charts look silly

Five years ago, bro-country pioneers Florida Georgia Line released “This Is How We Roll,” a brazen, almost exploitatively catchy single that strung banjo twangs over cringe-inducing rap bars and stole the darkest corner of my heart before vaulting to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Song charts. You can watch the video for it now and see the frat-house aesthetic of modern country radio coming to life in real-time — the girls giggling in belt-length cut-offs, the dirt bikes careening off into the void, the mirrored aviators shining a chrome-plated 18-wheeler back into the camera. Country radio had bro’d down before, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to think of “This Is How We Roll” as an urtext. Forget the wholesome Luke Bryan interlude at the end — we live in a world that started with Tyler Hubbard singing, “The mixtape’s got a little Hank, a little Drake / A little something bumping, thump-thumping on the wheel ride.”

Florida Georgia Line are still on the Hot Country Song charts today. They appear on Bebe Rexha’s “Meant to Be,” a pop piano ballad underpinned with trap beats. It peaked at the top of the charts before falling to third spot this week. And for a brief, brilliant moment, it shared some top-20 space with “Old Town Road,” a country-adjacent hip-hop mish-mash from 19-year-old Atlanta artist Lil Nas X that opens with a truly FGL-esque salvo: “My life is a movie / Bull ridin’ and boobies / Cowboy hat from Gucci / Wrangler on my booty.”

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