Image source: Rolling Stone
Last March 26, Lil Nas X released his highly anticipated single titled “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” The artist has been giving hints with snippets on his new song since July 2020. In a matter of hours since the release, the music video garnered millions of views on Youtube. As the title of the song suggests, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” is deeply inspired by the queer movie “Call Me By Your Name,” starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. According to the artist, “It was one of the first gay films that I had watched.” He added, “I thought the theme was so dope, like calling somebody by your own name is love, keeping the love between you two.” The song “Montero” is embedded with double meanings, innuendos, and suggestive scenes revolving around the concept of queerness. One of the most memorable parts of the song was Lil Nas X slid down a stripper pole and giving a lap dance on Satan.
Although it has gained massive traction of views and streams, the song also amassed its fair share of criticisms, especially from the religious sector and right-wing politicians. He received unsolicited comments from basketball player Nick Young to conservative influencer Candace Owens to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. At the same time, the overly controversial video garnered praise for the explicit representation of LGBTQ imagery and themes. Moreover, the music video is filled with Greco-Roman and medieval Christian influences. It was done to draw symbolism between ancient and modern-day persecution. In an interview with time, the queer artist said, “I wanted to use these things that have been around for so long to tell my own story and the story of so many other people in the community—or people who have been outcast in general through history.”
A lot of different discourses emerged from the song. Even scholars were quite impressed with the excellent conceptualization and sharpness to detail behind the music. The song’s narrative centered itself on queerness, particularly in historical and religious spaces. According to a professor at the University of California who goes by the name of Roland Betancourt commented, “Watching this video, I was a little bit shocked just because of how much knowledge you need to have to unpack some of these elements.” Professor Roland, also the author of Byzantine Intersectionality: Sexuality, Gender, and Race in the Middle Ages, added, “It says that institutionalization of homophobia is a learned thing—and that there are other origin myths available to us that are not rooted in those ideas.”
The music video is conceptualized by Tanu Muino and Lil Nas X himself. One of the scenes took place in the garden of Eden where the artist, who played both Adam and Eve, was tempted by the snake. Joseph Howley, an associate professor at Columbia University, commended the on-point portrayal of the historical scene. He said, “The story of the garden is a tradition that is historically misogynist. It aligns women with evil; it aligns sexuality with women and with evil. Lil Nas is turning that on its head with the way that his character and the serpent interact.”
Despite the song’s backlash, Lil Nas X’s new hit song “Montero” is considered a piece of art that has drawn different reactions from people. Check out more songs of Lil Nas on Spotify.