Billy Ray Cyrus Compares ‘Old Town Road’ Success to ‘Achy Breaky Heart’
Billy Ray Cyrus is no stranger to the power of a viral hit—in fact, he pioneered a viral hit, 1992's "Achy Breaky Heart," before the term "viral hit" even went viral! That said, Cyrus is now comparing another musical phenomenon to the original song that made him famous.
That would be Lil Nas X's record-breaking smash "Old Town Road," of course, on which Cyrus contributed to the most successful of its many remixes. The hit is up for three Grammy Awards at the end of this month: Record of the Year, Best Pop Duo / Group Performance and Best Music Video.
While Cyrus is proud of the song's crossover success, he can't help but feel he's already been down this path, in a slightly different format, decades ago.
"To be honest, this song felt to me like 'Achy Breaky Heart' felt like at a different time," Cyrus said at a recent 2020 Grammy Awards nominees party in Nashville (quote via The Boot). " I feel like I’m pushing a Flintstone wheel, going back to 1992 when there were record stores and there were actual records and CDs.”
"Achy Breaky Heart" never scored any Grammys (although it did, like "Old Town Road," get nominated for Record of the Year). However, the wildly popular hit did—also just like Nas' hit—sharply divide music fans in terms of its country cred and its overall musical worthiness. Both songs also inspired line dances, and had everyone from grade-school kids to senior citizens singing along.
As Cyrus says of "Old Town Road," the key unifier is simply translating joy. "This song just lent itself just enough that everybody could relate and make their own song, make their own dance. They could sing it their own way. That’s why I bought a guitar and started a band — songs like this.”
"Old Town Road" originally charted on Billboard's country charts for three weeks during the Spring of 2019, before the single got the boot from the country charts. The song went on to be a commercial success for Nas as the remix with Cyrus went on to become the song with the most weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's all-genre Hot 100 chart in the summer of 2019, surpassing the previous record holder "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men.
See the Top 50 Country Duets of All Time!