Lil Nas X ‘s new music video, ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),’ is packed with sexy imagery and Biblical references. Here’s a breakdown of the story behind the video.
Four years after Timothée Chalamet helped bring André Aciman’s novel to life on the big screen, Lil Nas X got a chance at living out his Elio Perlman fantasy on his new song, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” Heralded by artwork featuring a Nas-ified version of Michelangelo‘s “The Creation of Adam,” the song, released on Mar. 26, plays on the classic themes of temptation that the Bible warns its readers about. Except when Lil Nas X metaphorically takes a bite of the forbidden fruit — symbolism for embracing his sexuality as a queer person — what happens next is a lot more fun that what the Bible preaches about.
The video begins with a voice-over from the singer himself. “In life, we hide the parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see. We lock them away. We tell them, ‘No.’ We banish them. But here, we don’t. Welcome to Montero,” Lil Nas X says, referring to his real first name.
We then see Lil Nas X strumming his guitar in the Garden of Eden, where he encounters a serpent version of himself. There’s meaning behind the dual roles. “He plays the role of Adam as well as the snake that tempts him into giving in to the carnal desires he was forbidden to explore, and we see the two merge and become one,” Columbia Records explains in a press statement.
Lil Nas X gives into temptation by making out with his snake alter-ego — a nod to Adam biting the forbidden fruit — and the screen goes back to the tree which reads, “After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half,” which is a line from Plato‘s Synopsium.
The illicit kiss sends Lil Nas X to his execution day in the Colosseum, where a crowd judges and heckles the singer. While he ascends to Heaven for a brief moment, the singer eventually rides a stripper pole down to hell — a scene which is now going viral on Twitter, of course — and does a lap dance for the underworld’s king: the devil.
But this is more than just a sexy scene. After the sensual dance, Lil Nas X steals Satan’s horned crown for himself; this whole act shows how the singer “harnesses his sexuality to seduce the devil and strip him of his power as an evil force—and dismantling the throne of judgement and punishment that has kept many of us from embracing our true selves out of fear,” Columbia Records’ press statement explains.
The “Holiday” singer-rapper revealed that his latest track was written about a guy he “met last summer,” which he explained in a letter addressed to his 14-year-old self: “I wrote a song with our name in it. It’s 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, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist. You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am. The agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be. Sending you love from the future.”
Fans got a snippet of this long-teased song in an unlikely way: during a Super Bowl commercial. The song was the soundtrack to Logitech’s “Defy Logic” ad, which celebrated all the artists, podcasters, makeup visionaries, musicians, and other creative forces out there that “defy that little voice that says, ‘oh no, we can’t,’ with a roar that says, ‘oh yes, we will.’ ” It was the most that anyone had heard of the song, which he first played in the background of a July 2020 Twitter video.
Though Lil Nas X is primarily known for “Old Town Road,” the history-making, 14x Platinum, mega-success of a song, he’s gone on time and time again to dispel the “One Hit Wonder” label that many erroneously applied to him. “Panini,” the second cut from his 7 EP, hit No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, eventually going platinum five times. “Rodeo,” the song he did with Cardi B or the original Nas (depending on which version you’re talking about) is also multi-platinum. Most recently, his “Holiday,” the Christmas-tinged victory lap of a song that he dropped in November 2020, has gone Gold, proving that Nas X has longevity beyond his first blockbuster success.
If there is any pressure for Nas X’s debut full-length to mirror his early success, he wasn’t feeling it during his November 2020 interview with High Snobiety. Instead, he seemed more concerned with providing a complete experience that fully represented himself as an artist. “This album is going to be the most me creation I’ve ever released in my life. The most ‘This is Montero Lamar Hill’ thing ever,” he said, referring his birth name. “Because I’m so much more comfortable with myself than before. And I’m so much more confident in what I’m creating. I’m so happy, and I’m glad that I’ve taken the time; I feel like I’m slowly breaking out of my impatience. It’s going to explore relationships, things I’ve been through with my sexuality, things going on in my family, things that happened before fame.”
“It’s storytelling. It’s pop. It’s rap. It’s alternative rock. It’s dance. It’s House,” he adds. “It’s very fun, but it’s much more cohesive, and the world’s going to love it. I can’t wait to get it going, you know?”
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