Blake Shelton insists Old Town Road gag in Hell Right is just about 'how much the song is played'
Blake Shelton insists that his gag about Old Town Road was not meant to disrespect Lil Nas X, the artist behind that song.
In Hell Right, a new duet featuring Blake and Trace Atkins, a girl stops listening to Old Town Road to play a number by Hank Williams Jr.
'It's absolutely not throwing any kind of shade at Lil Nas X at all,' a representative for Blake explained to Variety.
'Not throwing any kind of shade': Blake Shelton (pictured in Las Vegas in April) insists that his gag about Old Town Road was not meant to disrespect Lil Nas X, the artist behind that song
'Blake says this literally has nothing to do with anything at all except how much the song is played,' the rep continued.
Lil Nas X has done remixes of Old Town Road with celebrity guest stars, most prominently a smash hit collaboration with Achy Breaky Heart singer Billy Ray Cyrus.
'It could have been 'Achy Breaky Heart' or any other [overplayed] song,' said Blake's representative, adding: 'Blake talked to Billy Ray and he thought it was funny.'
'Then the girl from the small town took off the Old Town, put on a little Hank Jr,' sings Blake in Hell Right, prompting Jace to chime in: 'Thank God.'
Hitmaker: Old Town Road has spent a record 19 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100; Lil Nas X is pictured at CMA Fest this month
Lil Nas X has himself poked fun at the prominence of his new song, joking on Twitter last month: 'just forced everybody at red lobsters to stream old town road'.
However, because Lil Nas X is black, the line in Hell Right was considered by some to have a racial component, particularly given the choice of Hank Williams Jr.
Hank once sang a song called If The South Woulda Won about how he would run that part of the country if its secession had lasted, as well as another song called The South's Gonna Rattle Again.
Dynamic duo: In Hell Right, a new duet featuring Blake and Trace Atkins (left), a girl stops listening to Old Town Road to play a number by Hank Williams Jr
Country music writer David Cantwell tweeted that 'taking off Lil Nas in favor of Hank Jr. will be predictably, understandably read as a racist d*** move. WTF Blake?'
Blake himself sang approvingly about the 'rebel flag flying' in Kiss My Country A**, a 2011 song from his album Red River Blue.
Trace wore a Confederate flag earpiece on an NBC Christmas special in 2012 and drew a public furore, after which he apologized.
Strength to strength: Lil Nas X' recent career accomplishments include covering Time
As Old Town Road topped the charts for weeks on end, Lil Nas X came out of the closet - the first artist to announce he was gay while his single was number one.
When he hit 17 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, he surpassed a previous record held by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men for One Sweet Day.
'Sending love & congrats to @LilNasX on breaking one of the longest-running records in music history! We've been blessed to hold this record with a song that means a great deal to @BoyzIIMen and myself and has touched so many. Keep living your best life!' tweeted Mariah graciously.