Billy Ray Cyrus’ ‘Old Town Road’ Verse Got Censored Before He Recorded It
If Billy Ray Cyrus had had his way, he'd be singing about pot instead of sports bras in his "Old Town Road" verse. The country singer shares in a new interview that his original lyrics for the remix of Lil Nas X's massive hit were slightly different from the ones we've been singing all summer long.
Cyrus tells the Taste of Country Nights radio show that when he went into the studio with rapper and songwriter Jozzy, at Columbia Records' request, to write a new verse for the "Old Town Road" remix, he originally suggested the lyric "Baby's got a habit, diamond rings and marijuana." The pot reference got nixed -- "They said everything [was good] but the marijuana," Cyrus recalls -- and that's when Jozzy came up with the "diamond rings and Fendi sports bras" line.
"I thought, 'Well, that's probably good, because I don't know what that is,'" Cyrus says.
In early August, "Old Town Road" broke a longstanding Billboard Hot 100 chart record when it spent its 17th consecutive week at the top of the chart. The previous record for weeks at No. 1 on the chart was set by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, with their song "One Sweet Day," in 1996. That song spent 16 weeks at the top of the all-genre Hot 100 chart in 1995 and 1996, a record tied by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber in 2017 with their summertime smash "Despacito."
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One chart listeners won't find "Old Town Road" on is the Hot Country Songs chart. Despite Cyrus' involvement in the track -- a remix of Lil Nas X's original -- and the recent release of a different remix featuring pre-teen yodeler Mason Ramsey and rapper Young Thug, the song is not eligible for inclusion on the Hot Country Songs chart. After gaining popularity on the TikTok app, "Old Town Road" debuted at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in mid-March, but was removed from chart consideration shortly thereafter.
Billboard explained at the time that "Old Town Road" "does not embrace enough elements of today's country music to chart in its current version," hence the organization's decision to remove the song from country chart contention. However, debate broke out on social media about the song's exclusion from the chart, with many arguing that Billboard's decision was racially motivated. The media organization denied those claims.
"Old Town Road" did spend a brief amount of time on the Country Airplay chart, when the buzz around the song's removal from the Hot Country Songs chart prompted a few stations and syndicated radio shows to play the song. Lil Nas X and Cyrus have recently performed the song at the 2019 Stagecoach Festival, CMA Fest 2019 and the 2019 BET Awards.
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