The “Old Town Road” continues to lead toward wins in representation.
The Country Music Awards nominated the track from Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus in the category of Musical Event of the Year.
The move is notable from country music’s gatekeeper in two respects.
First, the song’s classification as country rap, or country trap, led to it being booted off the Billboard Country charts earlier this year; the music-centered magazine found it did not fit the genre, which sparked a debate as to what defines country music in modern times. In having “Old Town Road” as a nominee, the awards ceremony is sending an inclusive signal to the rest of the industry.
Second, Lil Nas X is now the first out gay man to be nominated at the CMAs. Although there have been a few notable comings-out in country music — Chely Wright is a prominent example — the genre is still notoriously conservative. Thus, the recognition of Lil Nas X also marks a breakthrough moment in this world.
“Old Town Road” will compete with Maren Morris’s “All My Favorite People,” Brooks & Dunn’s “Brand New Man,” Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton’s “Dive Bar,” and Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell’s “What Happens in a Small Town.”
Lil Nas X ,20, came out in June during Pride’s final weekend. He also marked another milestone in July, when “Old Town Road” became the longest-running number 1 song in Billboard‘s history.