It’s been nearly two months since the last ‘Old Town Road’ remix was released, capping a nearly four-month period where Lil Nas X’s hit song was reworked by big, big names including Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, and BTS’ RM. Because of the ubiquitousness of the track, you might be surprised to learn there were only four official remixes released, even if it felt like there were far more.
- Read more: ‘Old Town Road’– how the TikTok-propelled country-trap banger sparked debate about genre, race and exclusion
Now, Lil Nas is moving onto his next single, ‘Panini’, and it seems like he’s planning on ramping up the remix activity by quite some way. “PANINI REMIX 1 OF 25 TONIGHT,” he tweeted on Thursday (September 12). He could, of course, be joking – time will tell on that front – but, if he’s not, then we’re in for a long ride until the end of the year.
Putting out 25 remixes of one song is more than a little excessive, regardless of how many household names you can rope into working with you. Goodwill towards the rapper is high right now – his fellow musicians haven’t quickly forgotten about ‘Old Town Road’ being removed from the country music charts, an action that was deemed racist by fans and stars alike. But that doesn’t mean he has to cash it in immediately. Instead of splurging it all in one go, why not put it in the bank to use on future projects?
There was a good reason behind doing a handful of remixes of ‘Old Town Road’. Lil Nas X was on course to break records at the top of the Billboard charts and releasing new versions of the song was a smart strategy to keep people streaming and boosting his figures. But by the end of its reign at the top spot, when those records had been smashed, putting out a fifth remix would have seen him begin to make the transition from savvy to taking the piss.
It’s unlikely that ‘Panini’ will break the same records that ‘Old Town Road’ did. It’s a good song but not as good as its predecessor, lacking the same viral quality. Its creator has already shown the industry not to dismiss him or try and keep him in a box defined in what might as well be prehistoric times – his debut EP ‘7’ showed no care for genre when it flew from the country trap of ‘Old Town Road’ to the Strokes-aping, pints-flying indie of ‘F9mily (You & Me)’. He’s no longer the underdog, so he doesn’t need 25 remixes to stick it to the man.
Get some special guests involved and release maybe three or four remixes – fine. But taking things into double digits not only turns Lil Nas X into more of a gimmick, a novelty, it also implies he’s not really ready to follow up his viral hit with something new. Releasing scores of slightly different versions of one song really feels like he’s been told he needs to keep up the momentum he gained earlier this year but doesn’t have a song strong enough to do it. Ironically, if the industry stopped fretting about artists’ 15 minutes of fame coming to an end and more about the music itself then perhaps their time in the spotlight wouldn’t have to rely on all these tactics.
It’ll be interesting to see how the feeling towards Lil Nas X changes (or not) over the course of 25 ‘Panini’ remixes. His arrival on the scene has truly been a breath of fresh air and it would be a big shame to see him lose the excitement around him so quickly. For now, it looks like we should have taken him at his word when he sang “I’m gonna ride til I can’t no more” because he seems set to ride this ploy into the ground.