Was Lil Nas X referencing ‘SpongeBob’ during his VMAs performance?

To quote a lyric from a cartoon classic: “Nautical nonsense be something” fans are wishing upon Lil Nas X.

Many MTV VMAs viewers believe Montero Lamar Hill, better known by his stage name Lil Nas X, was referencing an episode of the Nickelodeon show “SpongeBob SquarePants” during his Sunday performance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

“Lil Nas X knows his references,” reads one viral tweet showing a side by side of Lil Nas onstage in a bandleader getup, a marching band behind him, and SpongeBob sporting a similar fit in a September 2001 episode of the animated TV show. (In that episode, “Band Geeks,” SpongeBob and his marching band accompaniment perform together at the halftime show for Bikini Bottom’s Super Bowl equivalent, the Bubble Bowl.)

“Lil nas paying homage to Spongebob at the VMAS,” tweeted another observer of the similarities between the 22-year-old “Old Town Road” rapper and the cartoon sponge. 

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Lil Nas X onstage at the Barclays Center Sept. 12.
Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

For others, the Sunday spectacle — in which Lil Nas went from marching band attire to, eventually, just sparkly underwear — was a “f – – k you” to “homophobic people” and simply an entertainingly over-the-top show. For YouTuber Kalen Allen, the show was an erotic masterpiece

In addition to performing at the annual MTV showcase, Lil Nas also took home the video of the year award, best direction and best visual effects for “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” beating contenders including Cardi B, DJ Khaled and Doja Cat. 

Other highlights included Justin Bieber landing the artist of the year award, a surprise appearance by age-defying Material Girl Madonna, as well as performances from Busta Rhymes, Alicia Keys, Camila Cabello, Chlöe of Chloe x Halle, Jack Harlow, Kacey Musgraves, The Kid LAROI, Kim Petras, Machine Gun Kelly, Normani, Ozuna, Polo G, Shawn Mendes, Swae Lee, Swedish House Mafia, Tainy and Twenty One Pilots.

Some fans believe the beginning of Lil Nas’ performance was an homage to an episode of “SpongeBob.”
Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS