The yodelin’ Walmart boy has had a whirlwind month. After a-yelpin’ and a-foot tappin’ his way into the nation’s heart earlier this month through a viral video that combined the inspiring purity of a young talent with the bottomless discomfort of using a retail chain’s aisles as a busking sidewalk, Mason Ramsey (a.k.a. Lil’ Hank) has wasted no time securing his 15 minutes of fame.
First, the pint-sized hustler brought his brand of baby country to Ellen. Then, in a clear challenge to headliner Beyoncé, Ramsey showed up at this year’s Coachella. Now, the yodeler has grasped the world with his size XS conqueror’s hands by releasing his first single.
The song, “Famous,” is accompanied by a no-frills music video showing Ramsey, still decked out in his signature bowtie, crisp white shirt, and oversized belt buckle, trading in the halogen lights and shopping carts of stages past for a recording studio and blank Lynchian room with what looks like A&R people watching his performance from a faraway couch. It’s a very on-the-nose celebration of the record deal Ramsey just signed with Atlantic Records and Nashville-based country label Big Loud. Lil’ Hank sings on “Famous” about his meteoric rise to celebrity status while promising, with words made deeply unsettling through his pre-teen soprano, that no matter how important he becomes, the love of his life will always be front and center in his mind.
If I’m gonna be famous for something
I wanna be famous for loving you
If I’m gonna be known around the world
I wanna because of you, girl
Sure, the lyrics are thematically similar enough to his cover of Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues” that they’re not exactly a surprise, but there’s an extra je ne sais quoi to his performing them under the commercial stage lights of a professional recording and music video. Posed like a little cowboy puppet as he sings, it’s a miracle that the heart and soul that fuels his lil’ pipes is preserved in such a sterile environment. Maybe it’s just an example of that good old-fashioned American saying coming true: “You can take the yodelin’ boy out of the Walmart, but you can’t take the Walmart out of the yodelin’ boy.”
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