Red Dead Redemption 2 Helped Catapult Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road to the Top of the Music Charts
Old Town Road is being blasted everywhere right now but the song's roots are directly linked to that of Red Dead Redemption 2.
If you’ve been on the Internet at all in the last couple weeks or months, you’ve likely heard Lil Nas X’s song Old Town Road. The country rap track which was originally released back in December 2018 first started getting popular on the video app TikTok and has since blown up to such a degree that Lil Nas X himself has now signed a deal with Columbia Records. It’s a goofy song but it also kind of slaps.
At the roots of this entire saga though is, you guessed it, video games. Specifically, that of Rockstar Games’ 2018 release of Red Dead Redemption 2. Not only is the subject matter of Old Town Road and RDR2 similar with all the talk of riding on horses and such, but when Lil Nas X first released the song he published it as a video to his YouTube channel with all of the footage for the video having been taken directly from Red Dead Redemption 2.
Yes, the official music video for the world’s most popular song at the moment is simply just b-roll from Red Dead Redemption 2 overlayed on top of the track. Is it simple? Sure. But effective? Absolutely. As of this writing, the video has now surpassed over 36 million views on YouTube. Even though Rockstar Games surely doesn’t need help with selling copies of Red Dead Redemption 2, I’m sure they don’t mind being linked to this song about now.
In fact, you might argue that the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 in October helped set the stage more directly for a song like Old Town Road to blow up big time. RDR2 was such a big deal culturally when it launched last year and brought “cowboy culture” back into the mainstream for the first time in quite awhile. While Old Town Road certainly grew to its own heights and became a success through other means–memes were a big help–the song’s boost in popularity initially was likely aided by the overlap it had with Red Dead not only directly, but by proxy of the game’s cultural significance at the time.
To also put into context just how big the song has become in recent weeks specifically, Lil Nas X just broke Drake’s single week streaming record this past week by a rather drastic margin. The Drake song God’s Plan used to hold the single week record with 69 million (nice) streams in a single week before Old Town Road showed up and cumulatively did 80 million.
Lil Nas X – “Old Town Road” just shattered Drakes single week streaming record . “Old Town Road” did 80 million streams in a week to beat “God’s Plan” which held the record previously at 69 million in a week.
— DJ Akademiks (@Akademiks) April 11, 2019
Whether or not Old Town Road gets any bigger from this point remains to be seen, but it has been cool to see the song continue to gain so much popularity through unconventional means. Maybe more rappers and other artists will start to release music videos in the future that are directly linked to video games considering how well this has worked out for Lil Nas X.