Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me By Your Name)

Controversy? What controversy?

[Video] [A Normal Post]

Nortey Dowuona: I’m scared for Lil Nas X. Being a talented young Nas seems to be a recipe for disaster — I mean, look at the shitty relationships and shitty songs and shitty clothes Big Nas is clad in. Plus, he’s the biggest one-hit wonder in the world, a gay black rapper, and a former Nicki Minaj stan. It don’t look good for his future, especially if the songs don’t stand up to repeat listens. So I am even more scared now — because ” is great. It’s far and above better written (“why me? A sign of the times every time that I speak”) and has a fantastic guitar loop, splendiferous drums and purring bass, and fantastic singing from Nas. So he’s gonna have to top this too. He’d better not go full Don on the sophomore. And since he’s king of hell now, he’d better get that Nas and Jesus dispute settled.

Hannah Jocelyn: “Old Town Road” still plays like a freak accident to me — a joke song that blew up to unreasonable, record-breaking levels by being in the right place at the right time, upsetting the right people in the right ways. (That and those remixes.) But ” is wholly intentional; a Serban Ghenea mix, an of-the-moment Latin groove, and lyrics thoughtful enough for Genius but memeable enough for Twitter. “I want to fuck the ones I envy” is a classic, almost queer-101 line, but to hear it in a song destined for massive success is still a bit of a shock. And there’s the “Cellophane”-homaging video, inspiring a funny TikTok meme anyway. If “Old Town Road” was borne of an unexplainable soft magic system, this is hard pop magic, following every rule to make something massive and discovering a few of its own. If it’s actually the work of Satan, Satan can write a fucking tune.

Taylor Alatorre: On the same day that Nike filed a lawsuit against the designer of the instantly infamous “Satan Shoes,” Gallup released a survey showing that, for the first time in history, fewer than half of Americans identified as members of a religious congregation. The implications of this ongoing shift will be profound and unpredictable, but one of the lesser ones is this: ” might be the last ever pop song in America to cause sizable moral outrage as a result of its homosexual content. Maybe that’s premature, but Lil Nas X certainly isn’t acting as if this window will be open for much longer. Hence the promotional stunts, the red state baiting, the movie tie-in, the pro forma Bible references, the flamenco flourishes in a non-Latin song so as to signify lust and indulgence and intrigue and fallenness. He’s cornering the market on moral panic, betting that others who try similar strategies in the future will find that the well has now run dry. If that were all the track was — an exercise of first-mover advantage — it would barely be worth a second listen. Yet amidst all the Controversy, Lil Nas X tells a mostly compelling small-scale story, one that pairs irreverent sex boasts with a wide-eyed wariness of the full range of adult debauchery. The cavernous low-end bass overwhelms this contradiction, conveying the sense of power, however fragile and fickle, that comes with being the holder of someone else’s secret.

Alfred Soto: Putting the dough he earned with 2019’s most outsized hit into visual assfuckery as grand and ridiculous as Fassbinder directing a Cecil B. DeMille script, Lil Nas X almost realizes its aural equivalent. With a little bit of acoustic Nelly, more than a few garbled Biblical allusions, and a lot of terrible vocalizing,

Rachel Saywitz: Structurally,

Alex Clifton: For years the only artist I’ve associated with the phrase “call me by your name” was Sufjan Stevens, which is wonderful and gorgeous but not exactly hype music.

Katie Gill: Lil Nas X would have FLOURISHED in a 1980s MTV era style of pop music. His M.O. is the big, flashy, fun music video. “

Katherine St Asaph: Lil Nas X has all but completely abandoned country — smartly, given the pointless, careerlong battle he’d keep fighting to get cred there, and the crowdedness he brought to that particular old town road.

Scott Mildenhall: So much of this is not new — it’s not a like-for-like comparison, but Frankie Goes To Hollywood were the biggest band of ’84 — though that doesn’t mean it’s not a gleeful leap forward. From the title onwards,

Al Varela: The exploding popularity has been weird for me to watch. The song’s attempt to draw viral controversy and build on Lil Nas X as a brand, by being yet another addition to the saga of right-wingers clutching their pearls over black artists expressing their sexuality, is so calculated and out in the open the artist himself has admitted it. It feels like no one cares and everyone will happily play along in making the song the star-cementing event to succeed “Old Town Road.” Yet I still believe in the magic of the song, because that’s what makes pop music so great. We know a lot of it is a marketing game, but we still love and cherish it as an art because of the spirit and drive of the artist behind it.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: An “event single” where the “event” definitely, marvelously, and rightfully outshines the “single.” The queer masterpiece of a music video and these two posts are all [11]s. By contrast, the song is probably a [5], but

Will Adams: The discourse (if that feels like the wrong word, you can substitute “exhausting, pearl-clutching, conservative American panic” and keep reading) around the video and attendant bloody shoe tie-in is threatening to swallow the song faster than you can say “bring a bucket and a mop.” So I will do my best to stay on course.

Aaron Bergstrom: Sources of “-related joy (ascending): the shoes < the actual song itself < the tweets < the video < the letter to his younger self. We do not deserve Lil Nas X. (By contrast, the sputtering gaggle of professional bigots on social media absolutely do deserve him, and I hope he never stops threatening to seduce their dads).

Sonya Nicholson: Two years ago, during a time of extreme stress at work, I did something I hadn’t done in seven years — I started reading fanfiction again. One thing led to another, and soon I was dusting off my old Tumblr. Those of you who’ve been on Tumblr the whole time know what happened next: I discovered that the Culture Wars of the ’90s — stories of predatory gays, Won’t Someone Think of the Children,  etc. — had found their way into what used to be a mostly queer, neurodivergent, female (or AFAB), sex-positive, cultish, tasteless, derided, but also blissfully ignored space. Only now it’s not gay marriage but trans liberation that threatens the family, and the “children” have their own accounts, and they want us to know we should be thinking about them. Constantly. Every time we write slightly (okay, more than slightly) porny or disturbing fanfic, if we have not thought about them, well. We deserve what happens next, don’t we? In ,” Lil Nas X is not speaking for anyone’s liberation but his own. He is living on “his terms” and “being himself.” All the characters in the video are Him. And via the lyrics, the trackis also commentary on how pop stars need to be sexy (and what could be sexier than a pole dance in thigh-high fishnets?). But. Do you guys know how much we needed this? In these trying times, when calls for (queer) propriety are coming from inside the house? Think of it: a mainstream pop star stands up for his right — by extension, our right — to be gay, not in a rainbow-pin-wearing way, but in an integrating your Jungian shadow self by bottoming for Satan kind of way. Lil Nas X, in response to a tweet about “the system” and kids: “there was no system involved. i made the decision to create the music video. i am an adult. i am not gonna spend my entire career trying to cater to your children. that is your job.” In response to the angry backlash: “i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of shit ya’ll preached would happen to me because I am gay. i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.” He’s not just making art; he’s modeling for artists how to defend the art they make on social media. And he’s so good at it — the social media at least as much as the art. Thank you Lil Nas X, we stan.

Dede Akolo: The song is a solid 6.5/10 because I’m a sucker for flamenco influences in pop music. What interests me most is how ,” functions in society. The audacity of it all. The church. The children who would go apeshit to “Old Town Road”. All the PR posturing that was invested into Lil Nas X now just slashed. Only respect for my prince of darkness. 

Jackie Powell: Lil Nas X knows how important he is, and I don’t mean this in a way that characterizes him as arrogant or conceited. It’s ironic that I’m saying he’s not navel-gazing in a song titled after his birth name, Montero Lamar Hill, but ” and its accompanying video reveal how aware he is of his own trauma but also his own platform. The video is emphatic but doesn’t overwhelm your eyes with CGI, and symbolizes of his entire career thus far. The hesitation in the garden represents his coming out and introduced himself to the world; “Old Town Road” was in our ears, but the snake that lingered around him in this video was figuratively in X’s own head in 2019. Flashing forward to the visual of X sliding down a pole into hell with red dreads and boots reminiscent of Patrick Star, the apprehension is gone and acceptance of who he is has arrived. The video and the backlash remind me of Lady Gaga’s “Judas” — which turns 10 next month! And also like “Judas,” this track itself is no small feat. There’s a reason why Lil Nas X released three versions of this single, including one that’s called “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)- But Lil Nas X Is Silent the Entire Time.” That version isolates the smooth, syncopated guitar played by Omer Fedi, who produced on Machine Gun Kelly’s Tickets to my Downfall and Yungblud’s Weird!, and the flamenco that we hear in the percussive handclaps. But let’s also talk about X himself, and how he manipulates his voice all across his range — he creates his own “mating call” in each post-chorus with the Mmms. Between these and the melody of the first two couplets in verse two, he’s proven that “Old Town Road” aside, he wasn’t a fluke. 

Reader average: [7.55] (18 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

6 Responses to “Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”

  1. please direct all complaints at me

  2. Whoever edited the blurbs so that the names are called our names = MVP

  3. “Maybe that’s premature, but Lil Nas X certainly isn’t acting as if this window will be open for much longer. Hence the promotional stunts, the red state baiting, the movie tie-in, the pro forma Bible references, the flamenco flourishes in a non-Latin song so as to signify lust and indulgence and intrigue and fallenness. He’s cornering the market on moral panic, betting that others who try similar strategies in the future will find that the well has now run dry.”

    God I wish this was true… I don’t share your optimism at all. Personally I think the more out of control of their lives people are feeling, the more they’ll turn to what they feel they can control – their own and others’ sexuality. I think we still have time for a good, intense backlash to the permissiveness of a sexually liberated internet (and in fact we’re in one right now).

    Lil Nas X feels like he’s fighting the old culture war because he’s still fighting it *as* we understood it in the 90s, between the gays and the church. That’s a clean war, the current one is messier bc the conservatives have learned to modify their message so it sounds like a self-correction from within the left. I actually think there’s a lot of confusion right now about where people’s ideas about what’s moral and what isn’t are coming from, and what this Lil Nas X video with it’s deliberating baiting of an old-fashioned Satantic Panic is doing is helping to clarify that.

  4. But anyway I **hope** you are right, Taylor!

    The religious panic might not be mainstream (in the US) anymore but it still has enormous (political) power and you underestimate it at your own peril…

    This is Trump’s hydroxychloroquine doctor!

  5. This is not a joke, by the way. If you have any problems with this post, please contact me, so I do not instead have to find out after the fact.

  6. Sonically, isn’t this just Flamenco Candy Shop?