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Lil Nas X’s soulful ‘Jolene’ cover would make Dolly Parton proud

A man posing in a black cowboy hat and gold-trimmed black jacket.
Rapper and singer Lil Nas X recently performed at BBC’s Live Lounge.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

You can take the musician out of the country genre, but you can’t take the country out of Lil Nas X.

The rapper and singer, who burst onto the music scene in 2019 with the country-hip-hop crossover “Old Town Road,” notched another win Tuesday for the “Yeehaw Agenda” with a soulful cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge.

Hot off the instant critical and popular success of his debut album, “Montero,” Lil Nas X stopped by the Live Lounge this week to perform a few new songs, as well as a dramatic rendition of Parton’s 1974 classic.

“Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene,” the Grammy winner sang, adjusting the key and tempo of the iconic melody to suit his silky baritone.

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“I’m beggin’ of you, please, don’t take my man / Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / Please don’t take him just because you can.”

The singer, rapper and internet savant has finally released his full-length debut, ‘Montero,’ which strikes an impressive balance between craft and heart.

Dressed in all white, the “Industry Baby” hitmaker flawlessly executed each note while rocking sparkly butterfly earrings and a matching winged pendant.

“Your beauty is beyond compare / With flaming locks of auburn hair / And ivory skin and eyes of emerald green,” he continued to sing into a microphone delicately decorated with flowers and a purple butterfly to complete the theme.

In the comments section of the video, which has already racked up more than 41,000 views on YouTube in a matter of hours, fans of Lil Nas X praised the “versatility” and “mesmerizing” register of his voice.

Rapper and singer Lil Nas X has released his debut album, ‘Montero,’ as well as the music video for his latest single, ‘Thats What I Want.’

In addition to “Jolene,” Lil Nas X also performed “Montero” favorites “Dead Right Now,” “Thats What I Want” and “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” the recording artist’s monster hit of a lead single that has dominated the charts and caused a satanic panic on social media.

Times music critic Mikael Wood hailed Lil Nas X’s highly anticipated studio effort as a “remarkable” triumph and predicted it would “pick up multiple Grammy nominations in the weeks ahead.”

‘I was kind of a little butterball ... Now I’m string cheese,’ Dolly Parton said after re-creating her 1978 Playboy magazine cover for her husband’s birthday.

“Not better than you’d expect, necessarily, but better than it needed to be given his mastery of every other aspect of late-capitalist pop stardom, ‘Montero’ strikes an impressive balance between craft and heart,” Wood writes.

"[T]he album might be the year’s most beautifully constructed, with crisp beats, vivid textures and hooks nestled inside hooks (nestled inside hooks).”

Watch Lil Nas X’s full performance of Parton’s “Jolene” here.


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