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Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ sets record for gay artist with longest running No.1 hit

UPDATE: As of July 23, Lil Nas X’s mega popular song “Old Town Road” has spent 16 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, meaning it has tied the record for the longest running No. 1 in Billboard history. It also is the longest running No.1 single for musician who identifies as gay.

Lil Nas X’s epic smash single “Old Town Road” has set a record for LGBTQ artists. 

The hip-hip and country crossover hit featuring Billy Ray Cyrus has spent 15 consecutive weeks in the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, which ranks the most commercially successful songs in the U.S.

Lil Nas X sets record

That means “Old Town Road” is the longest running No.1 hit by an artist who publicly identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, according to Billboard magazine.

The previous record holder was Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight,” which topped the chart for 14 weeks.

Lil Nas X, who came out to his fans in late June during a series of Tweets, could set another record by the end of the month. If “Old Town Road” stays at the top of the charts for two more weeks, it will be the longest running No. 1 hit in Billboard history.

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X’s smash single “Old Town Road” has set a record as the longest running No.1 hit by an artist who publicly identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, according to Billboard magazine. Photo: Tanima Mehrotra

Set new record?

It will break the record of 16 weeks at No.1 jointly held by 1995’s “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men and 2017’s “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, Billboard said.

Billboard’s Stephen Daw said that the rapper’s meteoric rise to superstardom “means more to the modern gay community than meets the eye.”

“Part of the reason why ‘Old Town Road’ has become such a monster hit,” Daw said, “is due to its blending of musical styles, which puts the song into a hard-to-qualify sonic territory and gives it a certain fluidity.”

Lil Nas X, ‘I’m gay’

Lil Nas X surprised fans when he commented for the first time about his sexuality in a series of tweets June 30, which also was the end of LGBTQ Pride Month.

In one tweet, the rapper posted the cover art of his EP “7,” which features a rainbow-colored building.

“Deadass thought I made it obvious,” Lil Nas X wrote.

In a BBC interview following his June 30 performance with Miley Cyrus at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival, Lil Nas X clarified that he intended his tweets to be read as a public statement “that I’m gay.”

But, he said, he didn’t think he would ever come out of the closet.

“It’s something I was considering never doing, ever. Taking to the grave,” Lil Nas X said. “But I don’t want to live my entire life — especially how I got to where I’m at — not doing what I want to do.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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