'Montero' by Lil Nas X Hits #1 in Saudi Arabia

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday April 13, 2021

Lil Nas X in a screenshot from "MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)."
Lil Nas X in a screenshot from "MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)."  (Source:YouTube)

It's not just America that Lil Nas X has taken by storm with his latest single, the proudly gay "MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)."

The out rapper has also notched a number one hit in Saudi Arabia, where being LGTBQ is illegal, according to Metro.

The single "has hit number one on the Apple Music chart in Saudi Arabia, as well as number one on the Shazam chart and number three on the Spotify chart," Metro reports - and this despite the video depicting the rap artist "acting out sexual positions with Satan and pole-dancing in hell."

What's more, Metro notes: "Saudi Arabia has one of the worst records for LGBTQ+ rights, with Sunni Islamic Sharia law prohibiting same-sex sexual activity and punishing acts of homosexuality with fines, prison time and capital punishment."

Lil Nas X took to Twitter to share the news.

The song has done well all over the world, Metro pointed out, and has "also hit number one on the Billboard Global 200" with more than 109 million streams - enough to dislodge Justin Bieber, who had been at the top spot with his song "Peaches."

The song's international success is an echo of the way it shot to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 after its March 26 release.

Lil Nas X, whose birth name is Montero Lamar Hill, addressed his own past, penning a note to his 14-year-old self from years ago in a note that says the song is "about a guy I met last summer.

"I know we promised to never come out publicly... I know we promised to never be 'that' type of gay person... I know we promised to die with the secret," the rapper's note to you teenaged self continues, "but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist."

Lil Nas X has said that as a youth, he was shamed by religion for his sexuality.

The song's video provoked outrage among conservative Christians for its depiction of sexuality. The video's storyline has the rapper going to Hell, where he seduces - and then kills - the devil.

Religious conservatives also lashed out over the rapper's partnership with art collective MSCHF, which released 666 pairs of Nike sneakers that had been modified without authorization from the shoe giant. The so-called "Satan Shoes" featured a pentagram charm and a drop of human blood that had been injected into the soles. Each pair sold for $1,018 dollars - the price point being a reference to Luke 10:18, which refers to Satan being ejected from Heaven.

Nike brought suit against MSCHF, claiming copyright infringement and loss of sales due to consumers not understanding that the company had not authorized the modifications. The suit was quickly settled.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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