Brow Beat

Lil Nas X and Billie Eilish Release Dueling Remixes in Battle to Top the Charts

Billy Ray Cyrus (L) and Lil Nas X perform onstage during the 2019 BET awards at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California on June 23, 2019. (Photo by Jean-Baptiste LACROIX / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP/Getty Images)
A showdown for the ages (21 and under). Jean-Baptiste Lacroix/Getty Images

Lil Nas X ‘s “Old Town Road” had just about wrapped up its 14th week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 when shots were fired from behind. Billie Eilish, the 17-year-old up-and-coming pop phenom who recently climbed into second place on the Billboard charts with her single “Bad Guy” challenged the dominance of Lil Nas X and released a brand-new remix of her song featuring none other than former-teen Justin Bieber on Thursday night, just before the weekly streaming stats reset at 12:01 a.m. Friday. For Eilish, the remix presented the possibility that renewed attention to her single might push her up to No. 1, dethroning Nas X and ending his unexpected 14-week reign.

As quick as a pistol drawn in an Old West showdown, Lil Nas X dropped a remix of his own, adding not one, but two featured guests to the already-remixed version featuring Billy Ray Cyrus: rapper Young Thug and 12-year-old Mason Ramsey, aka “that yodeling Walmart kid from the internet.”

One could reasonably accuse Lil Nas X of overkill here. As good as the remix may be—the choice to include Mason Ramsey is both bizarre and genius—it’s his fourth remix of “Old Town Road.” But after spending 14 weeks at No. 1, the stakes are higher than ever if “Old Town Road” is going to beat the all-time record of 16 weeks held by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” and Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day.” After going from TikTok to 14 weeks atop the charts, fending off pop juggernauts like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Drake, and defining a whole new trend in fashion and music, there was no way that Lil Nas X was going to be downed by fellow youth Billie Eilish without a fight.

That said, all good things must come to an end. “Old Town Road” is undeniably the song of the summer, but fall is soon approaching, and the next week will test how well the remix strategy works when two artists employ it at once. (It’s possible they both fall in the charts and are replaced with Ed Sheeran.) At least if Lil Nas X holds down his position, we can always blame the failure of the “Bad Guy” remix on Justin Bieber.