Lil Nas X got the whole internet talking on Friday when he unveiled his long-awaited Montero (Call Me By Your Name) music video.
The chart-topping musician was previously awarded Best Music Video at the Grammys in 2019 for his Old Town Road clip, and could well be onto another winner with his latest high-concept offering.
Over the course of the three-minute clip, Lil Nas X portrays everyone from Adam in the Garden of Eden to the devil – who, naturally, he performs a lap dance for dressed in thigh-high boots and Calvin Klein underwear.
Suffice to say, it’s a lot.
The Montero (Call Me By Your Name) video is packed full of small details and easter eggs, so we’ve broken it down and shared some that you might have missed…
1. “Welcome to Montero”
Montero (Call Me By Your Name) all begins with a short explanation about the message of the video narrated by Lil Nas X, in which he reveals his concept was to create a world free from shame.
“In life we hide the parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see,” he’s heard saying. “We lock them away, we tell them ‘no’. We banish them. But here, we don’t. Welcome to Montero.”
Montero, by the way, is a reference to Lil Nas X’s birth name, Montero Lamar Hill.
A press release for the video elaborated further, explaining that as well as biblical and historical references, the 21-year-old wanted to tell “his own personal story of temptation, judgement and standing in the full power of his sexuality”.
Meanwhile, the other half of the song’s title is obviously a reference to the Oscar-winning film of the same name, which tells a coming-of-age story about a same-sex romance.
2. The Garden of Eden
Fittingly for a video that’s full of biblical references, it all begins in the Garden of Eden, with Lil Nas X playing Adam, the first man.
As he lazily plays guitar under a tree, he’s greeted by the snake – again portrayed by Lil Nas X.
In a twist on the original bible story, it’s Adam who is tempted by the snake, and as he is seduced by the serpent, they “become one”, representing Lil Nas X “giving in to the carnal desires he was forbidden to explore”.
3. The Tree of Life
Duality is a running theme throughout the video – whether it’s good vs. evil, masculine vs. feminine or shame vs. pride. As Lil Nas X’s Adam and the snake “become one”, there’s a close-up of a message written on a tree.
This translates to a quote from Plato’s symposium: “After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half.”
4. The Colosseum
From there, we’re taken to the Colosseum, where a scantily-clad Lil Nas X in pink is judged by members of the council – you guessed it, also all portrayed by Lil Nas X.
There’s a lot to be said about this moment, but we have to take a secomnd to just appreciate all of the different looks, which are giving us big “Marge Simpson goes to the Hunger Games” vibes.
5. The importance of the colour scheme
We’ve already mentioned the running theme of duality in the Montero (Call Me By Your Name) video, and many fans have suggested the choice to dress characters in only pink or blue for this Colosseum scene was a deliberate one.
The Lil Nas X “on trial” is in a revealing, pink outfit, while those passing judgement are all in blue denim. Some have claimed this is intended to represent masculine and feminine, and the inner struggle that many LGBTQ people experience when exploring their sexuality or gender identity.
Elaborating about the message of both the song and the video in an open letter addressed to his 14-year-old self, Lil Nas X wrote: “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.”
6. A nod to FKA Twigs?
At this point of the video, Lil Nas X begins ascending to heaven, only to then drop down to hell, pole-dancing as he falls.
This segment has already proved a little controversial, as it’s strikingly similar to a sequence in FKA Twigs’ Cellophane music video.
Neither artist has referenced the subject yet, so we’re going to just assume this was a deliberate homage to Twigs’ most famous video.
Cellophane was actually nominated for Best Music Video at the Grammys in 2019, but lost out to Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road.
7. The floor of hell
When we get our first glimpse of hell, there’s yet another message to decode, as written on the floor in Latin is: “Damnant quod non intellegunt.”
This translates in English as “they condemn what they do not understand”, which ties in perfectly with the themes of the video.
8. And then comes the video’s most already-iconic scene
Yes we are, of course, talking about the lapdance performance.
Dressed in thigh-high boots and Calvin Klein underwear (having appeared in a star-studded campaign for the fashion brand last year), Lil Nas X shows off some incredible gymnastic moves in an attempt to seduce Satan himself.
No points for guessing who plays the devil in this scene.
9. And finally...
At the end of the video, Lil Nas X steals the devil’s horns for himself and literally sprouts wings, in an obvious reference to conquering his shame and embracing his true self.
Decoding this final moment, a press release explained that the rapper “harnesses his sexuality to seduce the devil and strip him of his power as an evil force”, therefore “dismantling the throne of judgement and punishment that has kept many of us from embracing our true selves out of fear”.
Watch the Montero (Call Me By Your Name) music video in full above.