Billie Eilish Pushed Lil Nas X Off Of The Billboard #1 Spot

Published on August 21, 2019

When Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” went viral back in the beginning of the year, no one expected that it would break the world record for the longest-running stint in the number one spot atop the Billboard Top #100 list. 19 weeks later, though, it’s well-earned the title, a feat that has previously been held by the likes of Justin Beiber and Mariah Carey at the height of their careers. For Lil Nas X, however, the single was his first to hit the charts at all, skyrocketing him into a level of viral fame that was previously unimaginable. This week, though, the single was taken off the charts by another record holder—Billie Eilish, the first artist born in this century to go #1, with her song “Bad Guy.”

Both Songs Are A Testament To The Age Of Viral Media

While both Eilish and Lil Nas X couldn’t be farther apart sonically, their rise in fame shows a similar path as both utilized the internet to gain leverage within the music industry. Some of the first artists to do this were Justin Beiber (another record holder), who leveraged fame as a Youtube sensation to make his way into the mainstream music industry back in the early 2000’s. At the time, the young singers rise to fame was unconventional, showing that everyday people could have access to fame and fortune through using social media to their advantage.

Fast forward a decade, and the majority of the music industry operates online. Streaming numbers have replaced radio plays in determining factors that show popularity among the masses. And social media followers are often the biggest determining factor in whether or not an artist or model gets signed with a record label or agency. For artists like Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X, this made a spot atop the Billboard Top 100 entirely possible in the first place.

Eilish, who became an overnight sensation after her song “Ocean Eyes” went viral on Soundcloud last year, released her first studio album, titled “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” back in March. Since then, the teen star has been touring the world extensively, headlining festivals like Coachella and Life Is Beautiful along the way. Just a year ago, Eilish was barely on the come up in the music industry and had only a small handful of songs out. Today, she’s the first artist born in this century to secure a #1 spot on the Billboard Top 100 list.

Lil Nas X Leveraged Viral Fame

It isn’t by accident that Lil Nas X was able to earn the record for the longest running spot atop the Billboard Top 100 list, though, so much as it was a calculated move intended to use the fame he garnered during the controversy of the original release. When Billboard removed the original song from the top country tracks chart back in April, it opened the floodgates for criticism surrounding what constituted a country track (plus some scathing op-eds that exposed the country music industry as still being segregated).

It was then that Billy Cyrus—who is, perhaps, the most famous one hit wonder of all time—hopped onboard to bring the song back as a remix. Riding out the fame that the original track had garnered over Billboard’s controversial decision to remove it from the top country list, Cyrus and Lil Nas X saught out to achieve an even bigger goal: the Top 100 list. Since Billboard allows for remixes to qualify for the list if they don’t stray too far from the original composition, the two knew they had a hit. An explosive, world-record-breaking-hit, however? Absolutely.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

Read more

More GD News