The music industry has a new top dog: “Old Town Road.”
It took 24 years to beat “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men as the music industry’s longest-running pop chart-topping song. That ditty spent 16 straight weeks on the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1995 and 1996. And while Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee tied with Carey back in 2017 with “Despacito” (featuring Justin Bieber), it took Lil Nas X’s improbable viral hit to knock Mariah and the Boyz off the throne. Now, with its run at 17 weeks (and still counting), “Old Town Road” is officially “the longest-running No. 1 single ever,” according to CNN.
The song first became popular when Lil Nas X uploaded it to TikTok, the short-form video app, in February. According to Billboard, it then sparked “a meme in which creators drink ‘Yee Yee Juice’ [essentially a made-up drink that turns people into cowboys] and change into Western garb in time for the song’s drop.” Since then, it has been used as the background music for everything from backflips to baking. TikTok’s U.S. General Manager, Vanessa Pappas, even congratulated Lil Nas X saying:
It’s been incredible to watch “Old Town Road” grow from its start on TikTok in February—as the backbone of an accessible and engaging meme that generated millions of creations and billions of views—to a record-breaking smash hit that has all walks of life listening on repeat.
Two weeks ago on Culture Clips, we mentioned how creating content on smaller platforms such as TikTok can launch young people into careers on bigger ones, and Lil Nas X’s success is a perfect example. Another example of streaming success is the guy we talked about yesterday: Kyle Giersdorf, aka Bugha, aka the 16-year-old who just won $3 million at the Fortnite World Cup this weekend. To put that into perspective, that’s more than what the champions of Wimbledon, the Indy 500, or the Tour de France win. And it’s only a fraction of the $30 million that was up for grabs in prizes.
Fortnite is largely popular due to the fact that it’s free to play. But more than that: It’s a form of social media, since players can speak to each other live during matches. Oh, and it’s an advertising platform, too. Slate reports that the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Netflix’s Stranger Things, and Nike’s Air Jordans have all partnered with the game to be included. In addition to advertisement revenue, the game is also powered by in-app purchases, which generated $3 billion in profits last year. Now that $30 million is starting to make a lot more sense.
The winner, Bugha, is apparently planning to spend his money “wisely,” according to USA Today. “I’m just going to save the money and invest it and not do anything dumb with it,” he told ESPN. “I want to get a new desk, that’s about it.” Bugha is a Twitch streamer and is represented by the esports organization Sentinels (yes, esport gamers have agents; They also have high school varsity teams), so there’s a good chance we’ll be hearing more from him in the future.
In addition to changing the lives of Bugha and other winners at the World Cup event, Fortnite has also launched the careers of some of the most popular video-game streamers in the world, including Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. According to Fox News, Ninja “has more than 14 million followers on Twitch and over 22 million on YouTube and reportedly made $10 million last year.” Ninja didn’t qualify for the tournament, but remains a positive role model for the younger audiences who flock to his relatively-clean channel. In an interview with ESPN, Ninja explained his reasoning for creating more family-centric entertainment:
I never used to [think about how I portray myself on stream] because I didn’t really realize the impact that I have on a bunch of people or on kids…We just felt like it was 100 percent necessary to do the monitoring and parenting. Not necessarily parenting for them, just so these kids don’t grow up listening to someone swear every five seconds.
Knowing that some esport gamers are going out of their way to create wholesome content is refreshing to hear, especially since a study published by the Anti-Defamation League showed that “74 percent of adults who play games online have experienced some form of harassment.” The study doesn’t include minors in its findings, but another study by Full Screen showed that “more than half of Gen Z and millennials admit to daydreaming about life without social media.” The study also revealed that 83% acknowledged their moods were impacted by the number of likes, comments, and shares they receive and 54% believed that being constantly connected to their devices only worsened their mental well-being.
Studies like these are part of the reason that Oregon has signed a new bill allowing students to take “mental health days,” just as they would take a sick day if they were physically ill. They’re also the driving force behind Italy’s new bill proposal to treat “phone-addicted teenagers” as they would any other addict and send them to rehab.
Perhaps these new laws will help to curb the onslaught of online harassment and cyberbullying that young children and teens face on a daily basis, but in the meantime, Plugged In parents can check out “A Parent’s Guide to Today’s Technology” for combating the multitudes of social media and streaming available to their children.