The Chart Battle Between Titan Lil Nas X and Underdog Billie Eilish Just Heated Up!

(July 18, 2019). And in Week 15 news…

Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X

For those who’ve been following rapper Lil Nas X’s four-month journey down the “Old Town Road,” you know that he’s pursuing chart history with his No. 1 tune. 

“Road” has already broken many records (longest-running No. 1 by a rap artist, longest-running No. 1 by a debut artist, longest-running No. 1 by a country act – if you’ll indulge him), and established a lot of firsts (first song to reach the top 20 on the pop, R&B, rap and country charts – before Billboard yanked it from the latter) during one hell of a chart run that has seen him ranked at No. 1 on the all-genre Hot 100 for the past 15 weeks – longer than every other No. 1 record in history.

Every No. 1, that is, except two.

Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day” with Boys II Men (in 1996), and “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber (in 2017) each had 16-week No. 1 runs.  And it’s no small irony that Carey and Bieber both play a small part in the buzz surrounding the two hits that will decide chart history in 2019.

Here’s how:

Right behind LNX at No. 2 is another relative newcomer, Billie Eilish, the 17-year-old wonder whose quirky little pop jam “Bad Guy” has been No. 2 on-and-off for five of the 15 weeks “Road” has been at the top.  It’s one of seven different No. 2 songs that have tried (and failed) to knock Nas X from the perch, although “Bad Guy” has been the most formidable challenger.

Billie Eilish has been in Lil Nas X’s shadow for five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart.

And just when it looked like LNX had the record in the bag, last Thursday (July 11) Eilish unleashed a new remix of “Bad Guy” featuring none other than click-bait maestro, bad-Spanish singing Justin Bieber himself.  

For those who don’t recall, Bieber has a proven track record on the charts.  Since 2015 he’s racked up four No. 1 singles and it was his presence on one of them, Luis Fonsi’ & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” that propelled it to No. 1, where it tied the 21-year-old record set by Carey and Boy II Men in ‘96.

And speaking of Carey, who has made her own history with No. 1s (18 of ‘em), Mimi created even more social media buzz for “Road” when she and LNX got into a friendly exchange on Twitter about the prospect of her doing a remix of the current smash (as a mash-up with “One Sweet Day”). “Ok Mariah Carey let’s get this remix in,” he tweeted.  

Her response was classic diva…

Of course, the goal would be to increase streams, sales and airplay enough for “Road” to maintain its slowly dissipating lead over “Bad Guy,”…and to give Mariah Carey a featured credit on the song that could eventually own the record all to itself, eclipsing her own “One Sweet Day” in the process. 

Picture it: ”Old Town Road” by Lil Nas, featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, Young Thug, Mason Ramsey and Mariah Carey, sitting at No. 1 on the Hot 100 for a 16th (and maybe 17th!) week.

But then again, Mariah always knew her way around the upper echelon of the charts, and – except for the fact that she’s no longer a regular hitmaker – 2019 shouldn’t be any different if the opportunity strikes.

But Mariah won’t factor into this week’s numbers, because no such remix saw the light of day (yet).  

Instead, rapper Young Thug and 12-year-old yodeler Mason Ramsey were part of a remix of “Old Town Road” released the day after the Eilish/Bieber team-up.  And both high-profile makeovers will now have a full week’s worth of consumption data to be factored into the next Billboard Hot 100 chart (being released next Monday, July 22).

This new remix of “Old TownRoad’ figures to extend the song’s run at No. 1 on the Hot 100 next week…
…But Justin’s addition to Billie Eilish’s No. 2 challenger “Bad Guy” threatens to detour history

So now it all boils down to which remix boosts its principle song the most.

Will it be Lil Nas X tying Mariah & Boys II Men and Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Bieber?  Or will Bieber and his young pal Billie Eilish take over the top, stopping this “Old Town Road” from going any further?

My bets are on “Road” for a 16th week to tie the record, and a 17th to break it!

From left: Young Thug, Lil Nas X, Billie Ray Cyrus and Mason Ramsey.

Tune in Monday!


DJRob is a freelance blogger who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.

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