But it would seem that the surprises weren't finished for the pair this weekend, with Lil Nas X joining Cyrus during his set at the Nissan Center Saturday and bringing another very special guest along.
Keith Urban joined the pair on stage to perform the song for the crowds at CMA Fest, continuing his support for the rapper and following up his acoustic cover of the song that has taken on a life of its own. Urban played banjo during the performance and blew the crowd away while Cyrus and Lil Nas X handled the song.
Lil Nas X first made headlines when his song was released, quickly rose on the Billboard country charts and then ended up removed after being deemed not country. It was at this point that Billy Ray Cyrus stepped in to remix the song with the rapper and release it again, boosting the signal and lighting the spark for a sensation. From there it has received the cover treatment from the likes of Urban, formed the spine for a movie treatment starring Chris Rock, and even became an inspirational story for a few across the country.
The appearance with Urban and Cyrus marks the second stage appearance for Lil Nas X in Nashville. His appearance on Friday at the Spotify house marked his Nashville debut and marked a high point in a saga that hasn't seemed to faze the young rapper according to a recent chat with Teen Vogue, addressing the controversy that seemed to propel the song forward.
"It definitely played a part, but it didn’t overpower to the point where the Billboard situation was bigger than the song,” he told Teen Vogue. “By me being involved in something like that, it doesn’t make me feel bad. It makes me feel even more accomplished in a way.”
It shouldn't be a surprise that Urban stepped in to support the rapper and cover the song. The Australian/New Zealand singer has faced his own challenges with genre definitions when it came to his own music. He's winning Entertainer of the Year awards now, but there were a few cliffs to climb it seemed.
"The listener is always going to decide what genre it fits into," Urban said in an interview with Rolling Stone Country in reference to his album Graffiti. "I’ve always made music that has felt not as country necessarily, that someone in Nashville may say, 'Oh, this isn't very country,' but everybody else would say, 'That's totally country. What else is it?'
"It's all relative to where you are, what you're immersed in, and how you define genres as a listener," Urban added. "My goal was to keep capturing my musical heart where it is right now. And it's in motion. So this is musically where I'm at right now."