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So It's Come To This: BTS Rapper RM Leads Lil Nas X Down 'Seoul Town Road'

Lil Nas X's inescapable, genre-obliterating pop/hip-hop/country smash "Old Town Road" has been No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-tying 16 weeks, a run enabled by a hugely successful remix incorporating Billy Ray Cyrus (and, later, Young Thug and Mason Ramsey). Thursday morning, in a likely bid to lock down that record-setting 17th week at No. 1, Lil Nas X went for the kill, releasing another remix — this time with rapper RM of the K-pop juggernaut BTS.

There's not that much to differentiate the new remix from its peers: RM gamely takes a verse, showing off a nice country drawl, and the instrumentation picks up on the cross-continental cross-pollination. But it does feel like a tipping point, as "Old Town Road" shifts from novelty to phenomenon to immovable object to fundamental element, joining air, fire, earth and water.

Given that the "Old Town Road" remixes don't count as separate songs in Billboard's eyes, the feeling around the song seems to be shifting from "Will it reach 17 weeks?" to "Will another song top the charts between now and when all life on our planet is extinguished and the ground on which we once stood has been reduced to a charred cinder?"

Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy" hasn't done it, even with the aid of her own remix ringer, nor have two new singles from otherwise-reliable chart-topper Taylor Swift. Now that another worldwide phenomenon's name is attached to an incarnation of the song, we're better off adjusting to the reality that "Old Town Road" has joined the sunrise, the tides and the inevitability of death among the ranks of our permanent realities. If Eilish wants that No. 1 spot, she'd better get cracking on "Eil Town Ro " oh, no. That's actually going to happen, isn't it?

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)