Lil Nas X's 'Old Town Road' And The Logistics Of Record-Breaking Pop critic Chris Molanphy breaks down the social science behind "Old Town Road" breaking the record for longest-running No. 1 on the Billboard's Hot 100.

'Road' To Record-Breaking: How Lil Nas X Is Making History

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

It's time to play this song on our air again.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OLD TOWN ROAD")

LIL NAS X: (Singing) Yeah, I'm going to take my horse to the Old Town Road. I'm going to ride until I can't no more.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's official. Earlier today, "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X broke the record for most weeks at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 list ever.

CHRIS MOLANPHY: I mean, this is pretty major news.

CORNISH: That's Chris Molanphy, a chart analyst and pop culture critic. He says staying at the top of this chart is no easy feat.

MOLANPHY: This record has stood for more than 23 years, since the spring of 1996, when it was set at 16 weeks by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's song "One Sweet Day."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE SWEET DAY")

MARIAH CAREY: (Singing) And I know you're shining down on me from heaven.

MOLANPHY: It was very nearly broken in 2017 when the song "Despacito" tied it at 16 weeks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPACITO")

LUIS FONSI: (Singing in Spanish).

SHAPIRO: That 16-week streak ended when a new song by Taylor Swift jumped to the top.

CORNISH: But no artist could surpass "Old Town Road's" streak, despite many efforts.

MOLANPHY: It has literally dodged all of the major contenders for song of the summer by some real pop heavyweights.

SHAPIRO: Heavyweights like Taylor Swift, Post Malone, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish. None could compete with the 20-year-old come-from-nowhere success story of Lil Nas X.

MOLANPHY: It's impressive because to stay at the top of the charts, you have to have consistency across the three metrics that control the Hot 100 - sales, streaming and airplay.

CORNISH: And much of that streaming includes the multiple remixes of Old Town Road with big names like country star Billy Ray Cyrus.

SHAPIRO: Or Mason Ramsey, the kid yodelling internet sensation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OLD TOWN ROAD (REMIX)")

MASON RAMSEY: (Singing) Hold up, let me tell you all something. You can't tell me nothing.

CORNISH: Even BTS, the wildly popular Korean boy band.

MOLANPHY: Lil Nas X and his team are no fools. All of these remixes have been largely the same bones of the same original song.

CORNISH: And they're all added together as one song on Billboard's chart.

SHAPIRO: So how does Lil Nas X plan to celebrate the big achievement? He told TMZ.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIL NAS X: I may buy Mariah Carey some roses and send them to her because I love her.

SHAPIRO: We love her, too, Lil Nas X. We love her, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE SWEET DAY")

CAREY: (Singing) And I know you're shining down on me from heaven like so many friends we've lost along the way.

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