Lil Nas X’s ‘MONTERO’ Lives Up to the Hype


Zakkai Mares-Van Praag, Journalist

As a highly anticipated album, Lil Nas X made ripples throughout the charts with the release of his album MONTERO, which he advertised with pregnancy photoshoots and videos, calling the album “his child”.

“MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” was the popular song that was first released on the album, and it certainly made its mark. Drawing controversy due to a music video featuring Lil Nas X sliding down to hell on a stripper pole, the lead single made a statement that Lil Nas X was not ashamed or hiding his gay identity. A catchy beat and chorus accompanying daring lyrics make the song an instant hit in just over two minutes.

“DEAD RIGHT NOW”, Montero packs a lot into 220 seconds, telling the story of his personal struggles with his mother and others in his personal life, concentrating on those that have doubted him saying he couldn’t make it. A choir in the background asking Lil Nas X “Hallelujah, how’d you do it?” with his voice on top feels somehow cathartic. Montero’s vulnerability makes for an underrated, well-rounded, and emotional song that deserves praise.

“INDUSTRY BABY” was the final hit single released prior to the album, “Industry Baby” lives up to expectations. Montero’s passionately sung choruses and verses interposed with the message of how he keeps his goals high despite his haters remaining powerful. A verse from Jack Harlow and a dramatic prison break music video make “Industry Baby” great.

“THATS WHAT I WANT” asserts that Lil Nas X starts MONTERO incredibly strong with this quartet. One of his most simple messages about wanting to find someone to love is executed brilliantly. The song’s simple lyrics feel meaningful here. The start of the final chorus, when Montero sings a capella with just a choir harmonizing in the background, makes this one of the most impactful songs in the album.

In “SCOOP (feat. Doja Cat),” Doja Cat’s verse adds some much-needed variety to an otherwise boring song. The verses and final post-chorus make the chorus slightly more tolerable, but with a single word repeating far too many times, it is not enough to save it. This is the type of song that gets stuck in your head, and you hate that it’s there.

Unfortunately, “ONE OF ME (feat. Elton John)”, while a great concept, gets lost in a chorus that feels somehow off. Though it is an impressive feat that Montero was able to collaborate with Elton John, the fact that many fans anticipated he would be singing leaves his piano playing as a disappointment. The song echoes messaging in other songs, discussing his doubters and how people pretend to have been on his side. Unfortunately, it falls flat and becomes forgettable amongst other great songs.

Similarly, “LOST IN THE CITADEL” just misses. One of the more low-key songs, Lil Nas X delivers an emotional performance that feels different than the rest of the album and has the potential to stand out. However, it remains one of the least memorable songs without a strong chorus or a title that matches its lyrics.

“DOLLA SIGN SLIME (feat. Megan Thee Stallion)” is Lil Nas X at his most egotistical. As someone that isn’t generally a fan of those types of songs, this is better than most. A catchy chorus, as well as verses backed by trumpets, makes this a song that is a joy to listen to albeit the less than stellar lyrics and overly repetitive chorus. Megan Thee Stallion’s verse ultimately adds another voice that works out well.

From the harmonies to the emotion to the violins, “TALES OF DOMINICA” is where Montero picks back up with a near-perfect track. What seems like it would be a filler song, Lil Nas X makes into a unique and haunting beauty. The only drawback is that it feels like it ends before it starts.

While “SUN GOES DOWN” was overshadowed by the other two huge singles, “Sun Goes Down” gives yet another emotional look into Lil Nas X’s childhood and how he always doubted himself. One of the most personal songs comes together beautifully and slowly begins the album’s path towards a conclusion, although it also stands well on its own.

Something about “VOID” clicks. It has a completely unique feel compared to the rest of the album. An emotional and touching ballad about the artist’s loneliness where he seems to write to his past self, before delving into a love story that doesn’t seem to end well, the track comes together as one of the saddest yet most articulated songs.

At the surface, “DONT WANT IT” is another anthem about Lil Nas X’s pride in his music and how well he’s done. Yet strangely, it feels as if he is trying to convince himself he is worth it. The section broken up by others announcing his achievements interrupting the melody feels a tad off, however, simultaneously admitting mistakes and sharing inner feelings while trying to be proud, with a well-made soundtrack in the background, is an ambitious task.

With a brilliant set-up verse and pre-chorus, “LIFE AFTER SALEM” falls just flat with a lackluster chorus in this pop-rock song. “Life After Salem” feels one step away from being a standout but cannot hit the final mark. Still, it remains a deeply personal and put-together song.

Finally, “AM I DREAMING (feat. Miley Cyrus)”. There aren’t really any words that can be added to this song: quite simply, go listen to it. Many would expect a debut album like this to end with a huge pop hit, but instead, Lil Nas X decides to slow things down and deliver a beautiful finish that will almost certainly make you teary-eyed. With the addition of Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X confirms that he has rewritten his story with this powerful album.