Whether or not you know it, you’ve heard Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” The country-rap-trap earworm is comfortably topping international charts, and has spent 16 straight weeks at No. 1 on the US’s Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, tying with a record a record held by “One Sweet Day” (Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men) and “Despacito” (Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber). The song is also inspiring many, many remixes.
Both Lil Nas X and BTS are ubiquitous on the internet. In addition to dropping “Old Town Road” on YouTube, Twitter, Apple Music, and Spotify, Lil Nas X promoted the song on everything from Soundcloud to Reddit, using various memes and hashtags. In 2018, the #YeeHawChallenge hit video app TikTok, and the rest was history: “Old Town Road” became a Billboard hit earlier this year and has remained so ever since.
BTS is similarly savvy, and supremely popular. The seven-person group’s latest album made them the second band in history to achieve three No. 1 albums in a year (the first was The Beatles). BTS are the first K-pop act to perform on Saturday Night Live, and a YouTube video of their set is the show’s most-viewed musical act in history. Like Lil Nas X, BTS has leveraged social media, mainly by way of Twitter, and Snow (the Korean version of Snapchat), which has made it easy for fans to connect with them directly.
“Seoul Town Road” may just be a clever, inevitable chart play by Lil Nas X. It features two of the world’s most popular artists on what is, right now, the world’s most popular song. But it’s not every day we get an international, cross-genre collaboration between a Korean boy-band singer and an Atlanta country-trap rapper. In an internet that spawns so much darkness, “Seoul Town Road” is one of those rare, beautiful things borne on the wings of social media.