Unless you're living under a rock these days, you've definitely heard about the meteoric rise of Georgia singer-songwriter/rapper Lil Nas X. Between the release of his debut studio album Montero, top-notch BET and VMA performances, charity work, joke pregnancy photos, and dressing up like golden royalty for the 2021 Met Gala, it's safe to say he's everywhere in the media.
But there's good reason for his fame: Lil Nas X is an artist who combines a lighthearted approach, experimentation, and proud vulnerability into his discography. He's campy, but never without a purpose. He started off as an internet personality who posted comedy videos to Twitter and Facebook, ran Nicki Minaj fan accounts, and made songs like "Old Town Road" for fun until they went viral on TikTok.
Now, he's a Grammy-winning celebrity, the first openly LGBTQ+ Black artist to win a Country Music Association award, a Time Magazine "25 Most Influential People on the Internet in 2019" name, and a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree. With the likes of Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, and BTS, he's one of the musical acts that define Gen Z.
Lil Nas X is still relatively new in the music game, but with his new album, he now has enough work for us to do a proper Top 10 list. After listening to Montero and his previous projects, here's our ranking!
“Panini” is the second single from Lil Nas X’s debut EP, 7, which directly followed the rise of his hit song “Old Town Road.” In this song, Lil Nas talks about his old fanbase and compares them to Panini, the pink bunny character from the Cartoon Network TV Series Chowder.
In a Genius suggestion, Lil Nas X explained what he meant by the comparison. "Panini was possessive over Chowder in the show. She’s a representation of fans who love you when you’re small," he said. "Once you get the spotlight they aren’t feeling you as much. The song is not a diss but anger towards that fan but also wanting them back."
While the lyrics may be on the simpler side, we love this track's low bass sounds, heavy techno synths, and trap accompaniment. And if anyone reading is a fan of the Blade Runner movies or sci-fi imagery, definitely check out Lil Nas X's music video for "Panini."
The holiday season came early when Lil Nas X released this banger. With a thumping bass and bouncy melody, "HOLIDAY" is a fun little song to play in the background during your next yuletide celebration.
It's also got some silly wordplay, specifically the "hoes on hoes" line referring to both Santa Claus's trademark "ho ho ho" and the people Lil Nas is partying with. Speaking of Santa, many fans love this song's music video due to the fact Lil Nas X dresses up as a futuristic version of Saint Nick. Who else wants to take a ride on that sports car sleigh?
8. "Rodeo (feat. Cardi B)"
A track from Lil Nas X that masterfully blends country tones with a hip hop and trap groove, "Rodeo" is like "Old Town Road," but far less campy and goofy. It also contains a deeper message.
"Rodeo" also comes off the 7 EP and talks about Lil Nas's struggle to stay with a lover despite the lover being a very needy person. Add Lil Nas's rising fame into the picture, and it's a chaotic situation.
The first edition of this track featured a powerful guest appearance by Cardi B in the song's second verse. The remix of "Rodeo" was a dream come true for Lil Nas. It featured the man his name pays homage to: Queens MC, Nas. The two debuted their version live during the 2020 Grammy Awards, officially releasing the song to streaming hours later.
7. "Old Town Road (Remix)"
It pains us to place "Old Town Road" lower on the list, especially because the song was responsible for putting Lil Nas X on the map. But we had to take into account his new direction as a musician, and how he's trying to become a more "serious" artist with his recent work. As joked about during his Montero Show skit, the "Old Town Road" era is something Lil Nas is actively trying to move away from.
Nevertheless, it would be a crime not to mention this wildly successful song. What can we say about "Old Town Road" that hasn't been said before? After buying the Nine Inch Nails-inspired beat from Dutch producer YoungKio for $30, Lil Nas X added onto it in a humble Atlanta studio. From there, the song got popular on Twitter. Then TikTok. Then all across the world. Finally, it reached the attention of Billy Ray Cyrus, who helped to make a Grammy-winning remix.
Since 2019, "Old Town Road" has sparked conversations about unconventional genre crossovers after it was controversially pulled from the Billboard country charts. Despite the tragedy, this song recently went 15x Platinum (the first single to do so), and remains the longest-running #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 since the chart debuted in 1958.
6. "SCOOP (feat. Doja Cat)"
The first song off Montero on our Top 10 list! "SCOOP" has a catchy chorus and talks about Lil Nas X's ambition to always be the center of attention in the news, as well as get into pristine shape. Lil Nas is also talking about scooping, or picking up, someone to fool around with.
"SCOOP" comes with a guest feature from Doja Cat, who also talks about how hard work from performing has gifted her with a healthy, beautiful body. Additionally, the song mentions Lil Nas X's debut 2018 Soundcloud mixtape NASARATI, and at the time of teasing this song, the line "I ain't talkin' guns when I ask where your d--k at" marked the first time he rapped openly about his homosexuality since his 2019 song "C7osure (You Like)."
5. "TALES OF DOMINICA"
"TALES OF DOMINICA" has gorgeous strumming instrumentals and emotional vocals from Lil Nas X. It's a deep, vulnerable song about dysfunctional family relationships, depressive moments, and the hopelessness one can feel in harder times.
One of Lil Nas X's more honest songs, it adds another layer of depth to an already personal debut. We love the lyrics "I've been living on an island made from faith," and the line "Can't go running back to home, I can't face hеr face" hits pretty hard, considering Lil Nas had to abandon his mother as a youth. He moved out of his mom and grandma’s home when he was 9 years old with his dad to Austell, Georgia after his parents divorced and his mother's addiction was deemed a problem.
4. "THAT'S WHAT I WANT"
Made popular with a freshly-dropped music video right after the release of Montero, "THAT'S WHAT I WANT" is an easy-to-sing-along-to track about Lil Nas X's desire for love. The lyrics may be a bit simplistic, but the emotions behind the song are far from it. With the "you know it's harder to find in these times" line, Lil Nas X is even making a statement about how hookup culture and the COVID-19 pandemic have made it harder for people to have meaningful relationships these days.
Furthermore, the steamy Brokeback Mountain-inspired video for this song has given it some gusto within Lil Nas's discography. Some cool things in the video include Lil Nas X falling from the sky like a meteor, a football game with hot pink uniforms, Lil Nas in a gorgeous wedding dress, and an unexpected appearance from Pose actor Billy Porter.
3. "SUN GOES DOWN"
Perhaps his most personal song to date, "SUN GOES DOWN" depicts Lil Nas's younger self conflicted with his complexion, closeted homosexuality, and loneliness. While the chorus recalls past suicidal thoughts, the rest of the song carries a strong message of hope, as the sole verse ends with him taking a "leap of faith" and finding happiness thanks to his 2019 coming out.
Lil Nas X explained the song's title in a tweet. "i named the song “sun goes down” because i feel like at night is when those thoughts you try to avoid really start to hit and you can’t escape them," he wrote.
Besides the emotion within this song (and how easy it is to cry to), we're in love with "SUN GOES DOWN" because of its gentle guitar melody, calm vocals, and well-placed drum beat. It's made for easy listening, and almost has an indie vibe to it. And can we talk about the sad-yet-cute music video? We're so glad it has a happy ending for Lil Nas.
2. "INDUSTRY BABY (feat. Jack Harlow)"
This song (as well as our #1 pick) are two of the standout tracks off Montero. If you need a power-up, "INDUSTRY BABY" is the song for you. With its blaring marching band horns, booming bass, and knockout verses by Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow, it's nothing short of impressive. Oh, and did we mention it's produced by Kanye West?
The boisterous song is about both artists overcoming adversity and gaining leverage within the music industry (hence the song's title). "INDUSTRY BABY" became famous for its bold music video, which features a prison shower dance scene, Jack Harlow hooking up with a prison guard, and Lil Nas X escaping jail Shawshank Redemption style.
Additionally, "INDUSTRY BABY" was just performed at the 2021 VMAs, where it made the crowd go wild thanks to great dance moves, hot pink costumes, and a real-life marching band. This one is for the champions!
1. "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)"
When Lil Nas X released the music video to "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" earlier this year, it was like the whole music industry shook. Pole dancing down to hell and giving Satan a lap dance are pretty noteworthy things, after all.
But "MONTERO" is much more than a well-done CGI music video: it's a salacious track about Lil Nas X desiring to stop pretending with his love interest and start acting on a first-name basis. Going head-over-heels for a lover is something almost anyone can relate to. This song is bound to endure the test of time.
Compositionally, "MONTERO" mixes electropop trap with gentle guitar strums, handclaps, flamenco tones, and psychedelic vocal transitions. With straightforward lyrics that contain references to biblical stories and Andre Aciman's gay romance novel Call Me By Your Name, it's a song that can be analyzed as well as just something to dance to. It's an intellectual club banger!
Finally, "MONTERO" is notable for its title. Lil Nas X's real name is Montero Lamar Hill. Using his name as the title of this track could be saying something about taking pride in his identity. After all, once this track was dropped, Lil Nas X announced he would be releasing his debut studio album. And the rest is history!
Discover thousands of free stations from every genre of music and talk at Live365.com.