“Go back where you come from!” Aesthetic identity, “This Land” and “Old Town Road”

dc.contributor.authorSusan L. McFarlane-Alvarez
dc.description.abstractThe first half of 2019 was marked by discussions about the intersections of race and music genres, including the music and music videos of two songs: <i>Old Town Road</i> by Lil Nas X and <i>This Land </i>by Gary Clark Jr. Both songs and their respective music videos feature black artistes whose works provide commentary on the intersection between race and music genre, and which have inspired heated discussions related to authenticity and belonging. On Sunday, June 23, 2019, when Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus took the stage at the BET Awards, to sing <i>Old Town Road</i>, the “electrifying” live performance signified a culmination of the song’s meteoric rise to popularity, and the controversies of race and genre that marked the first six months of the track’s existence. Three months prior, the song peaked at number 19 on Billboard’s <i>Hot Country Songs Chart</i>, when the magazine announced its disqualification because it did not fit the country genre. Gary Clark Jr.’s song, on the other hand, builds on Woody Guthrie’s <i>This Land is Your Land</i>, but questions the people who can lay claim to this folk mantra, and simultaneously problematizes Guthrie’s claim that “This land was made for you and me,” with the realities of racism and being told to “Go back where you come from.” Building on the concept of aesthetic identity[1], this analysis examines the intersections between race and genre in <i>This Land</i> and <i>Old Town Road </i>(2019)<i>,</i> through analysis of the musical heritage and song lyrics, alongside the visual representation in the two music videos.<br>[1] In his article on the topic, William G. Roy notes, “Aesthetic identity is the cultural alignment of artistic genres to social groups by which groups come to feel that genres represent “our” or “their” art, music, and literature. Genre boundaries then become social boundaries.
dc.title“Go back where you come from!” Aesthetic identity, “This Land” and “Old Town Road”
dc.typeJournal Article, Academic Journal
dcterms.bibliographicCitationFlow Online Journal of Television and Media Studies 26(1), (September 16, 2019)