Lil Nas X’s ‘Jolene’ Cover Stays Faithful to the Original [Watch]
Lil Nas X's cover of Dolly Parton's classic song "Jolene" stays faithful to the original. There's little of the musical grandeur that the younger artist has become known for, but he doesn't need it to deliver this performance successfully.
"This song is kind of, like, beautifully sad, you know?" Lil Nas X shared of "Jolene" during his performance at the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge (quote via Billboard). "I like the little twang, like the country twang in it. So I was like, 'Lemme try this out.'"
Indeed, although he's backed by a full band, their instrumentation is spare, each musician adding just a little, even in the biggest moments, as Lil Nas X sings Parton's 1973 No. 1. Parton herself would certainly have approved of the rapper's stage décor — his microphone stand featured a gorgeous wildflower bouquet — and attire, which included a sparkling butterfly necklace.
Although he's since worked in the pop and hip-hop spaces, Lil Nas X earned his first hit with the twangy "Old Town Road," which became a multi-week Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 and a massive worldwide hit following its release in late 2018. The song sparked a debate when Billboard disqualified it from inclusion on its country music-focused charts, but after Billy Ray Cyrus joined Lil Nas X on a remix, "Old Town Road" won Musical Event of the Year at the CMA Awards; it also earned two Grammys and several other honors.
Lil Nas X sings with Cyrus' daughter, fellow artist Miley Cyrus, on his recently released new album, Montero. The younger Cyrus is, coincidentally, Parton's goddaughter.