You figured Lil Nas X would break the internet again somehow.
Performing controversial pop single “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” overnight on Saturday Night Live, the 22-year-old rap outsider did just that when, during a performance-culminating pole dance, his leather pants reportedly tore.
He saved face by (1) suggestively swaying for 10 seconds-plus while (2) covering his crotch. Watch the whole performance below.
Sans the apparent gaffe, his bold performance may have been standalone viral: A live rendering of the music video from March wherein Lil Nas X goes to hell and gives the devil a lap dance was cleverly designed for NBC standards. Here, a platoon of six Black, shirtless backup dancers in leather pants serenaded Lil Nas X as the star himself wore a flame-adorned cutoff top that exposed his abs.
For his part, Lil Nas X tweeted at his 6.4 million followers that “i wanted to do my pole routine so bad this what i get lmaoo” following the performance.
But was the moment too good to be true? Lil Nas X is a social media expert who posts with the heart of a prolific troll and understands what moves the needle on main better than all other musicians. Did he stage the gaffe knowing that it’d be an instant trending topic online? No, he says.
“i know i do a lot of planned shit but ripping my pants on live television is not one of them,” he tweeted Sunday morning, before adding: “at first i was afraid to even perform. then we rehearsed for 2 weeks, then all of the dancers got removed because one had covid and new ones had to learn the routine in 24 hours, and then i ended up ripping my pants and couldn’t finish. everything happens for a reason tho lol.”
Memes from fans propagated like fruit flies all the same.
Historians may point to this weekend as the inflection point wherein Gen-Z planted its pop flag and never looked back: 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo (fresh off a recent SNL stint herself) released her post-Billie Eilish confessional emo album Sour to acclaim, and Fleetwood Mac icon Stevie Nicks became a festival headliner on the fall Austin City Limits bill amid her TikTok revival.
Lil Nas X proved, definitively, that keyboard warriors make unsinkable pop stars—it just takes big ideas and charisma.
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