Lil Nas X’s ‘Call Me By Your Name’ And ‘Satan’ Shoes Spark A Culture War.
On Friday, singer Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, released “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” along with a heartfelt note to his 14-year-old self about coming out. The song, which is about no longer wanting to hide a queer relationship, was accompanied by a video featuring Lil Nas X as various biblical characters and a limited edition run of 666 Satan Shoes, which each contain a drop of human blood and cost $1,018 per pair.
The most genius part of the promotion, though, may not be the shoes or video. As one fan pointed out in a Tweet that was retweeted by the Grammy-award-winning singer, “Call me by your name slaps 10x harder knowing how mad people are about it.”
The culture war that the song, video and sneakers prompted has caused discussion of the track and singer to skyrocket. Since its release, there have been 1,776,444 tweets mentioning Lil Nas X, according to social analytics platform ListenFirst Media, up from just 50,529 tweets during the same period the week prior.
“Montero” has been streamed nearly 9 million times on Spotify and became the number 1 song on iTunes. The video has been viewed more than 32 million times on YouTube, where it became the number one trending video over the weekend. On TikTok, the app that propelled Lil Nas X to fame, the first clip of the video has 1.5 million likes. His limited edition Satan Shoes sold out in under one minute.
His older songs are also gaining ground, including his first hit, “Old Town Road,” which reached 3 billion on-demand streams on Monday. Since “Montero” was released, Lil Nas X has gained 422,934 new fans, followers or subscribers on his social media accounts, including 200,000 new subscribers on YouTube, according to ListenFirst. He’s also getting support from other musicians, including Miley Cyruse and Big Sean, who commented on one of Lil Nas X’s Instagram posts.
The singer first rose to popularity in 2019, when his song “Old Town Road” became a viral success on TikTok. The country-rap song spent a record-breaking 19 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Lil Nas X earned $14 million that year and made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.
Lil Nas X publicly came out as gay on Twitter in 2019, but the “Montero” song and video—which play on the conservative narrative that LGBTQ+ people will be condemned to hell and that homosexuality is a sin—has sparked fresh commentary about his sexuality and his music.
While fans and music critics are praising the song and video for celebrating queerness, conservative figures like South Dakota Governor Kristi Noam and pundit Candace Owens have taken to Twitter to criticize the song.
“We are in a fight for the soul of our nation,” Noam tweeted, employing the classic language of culture wars. “We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win.”
But the heckling from the right has only intensified support from Lil Nas X’s fans—particularly as he responds on social media, discussing the pain that he experienced growing up and suppressing his sexuality, and claps back, riling up the right even more.
“ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!” he said, in a Tweet that garnered 183.6 likes—seven-times more than Noam’s Tweet.
“you know you did something right when she talks about it,” he responded to Candace Owens.
“i had 9 months to plan this rollout. y’all are not gonna win bro,” he tweeted on Monday.