Jason Aldean’s latest single ‘Try That In A Small Town’ has debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and, in the wake of its chart success, everyone is saying the same thing.
It comes after the track found itself in the midst of controversy, following the release of its music video that led to condemnation from NAACP officials, fellow country musicians and social media users.
The track originally dropped in May, when it was met with little attention, but the music video’s setting and content have resulted in Country Music Television, a country music cable network in the States, pulling the video from the channel.
The video remains on YouTube, where it has amassed nineteen million views at the time of writing.
The video shows Aldean performing in front of Maury County courthouse, located in Columbia, Tennessee, and is the site of a lynching of Henry Choate, a Black man, in 1927, per The Guardian. This shot is mixed with footage depicting protests as being violent.
The lyrics of the song came under fire following the attention drawn to it after the release of the music video.
Lyrics facing criticism include: “Cuss out a cop, spit in his face / Stomp on the flag and light it up / Yeah, you think you’re tough / Well, try that in a small town / See how far you make it down the road / Around here, we take care of our own.”
As well as: “Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they’re gonna round up / Well, that s*** might fly in the city, good luck.”
However, last week, Aldean shared a post to Twitter dismissing the backlash.
“In the past 24 hour I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests,” he began.
“These references are not only meritless, but dangerous. There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it – and there isn’t a single clip that isn’t real news footage – and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music – this one goes too far.”
“As so many pointed out,” he continued, “I was present at Route 91 – where so many lost their lives – and our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy. NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart.”
Aldean went on to explain his interpretation of the track.
“Try That In A Small Town, for me, refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbours, regardless of differences of background or belief. Because they were our neighbours, and that was above any differences.
“My political views have never been something I’ve hidden from, and I know that a lot of us in this country don’t agree on how we get back to a sense of normalcy where we go at least one day without a headline that keeps us up at night. But the desire for it to – that’s what this song is about.”
Despite Aldean’s pushback against the controversy, the backlash did not stop, with country legend Sheryl Crow adding her voice to the debate.
“I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence,” she wrote on Twitter. “There’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence. You should know that better than anyone having survived a mass shooting. This is not American or small town-like. It’s just lame.”
Crow refers to the Route-91 shooting that Aldean also mentioned in his statement. In 2017, Aldean was performing at the festival in Las Vegas when the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history occurred, leaving sixty people dead and 867 injured.
However, Aldean’s most recent remarks doubled down on his stance, as he took to the stage to bash cancel culture at his recent concert in Cincinnati’s Riverbend Center.
He stopped mid-performance to address the controversy, he said: “I love our country, I want to see it restored to what it once was before all this bulls**t started happening to us. I love my country, I love my family and I will do anything to protect that, I can tell you that right now.”
The crowd then burst into chanting “USA”.
He added: “That’s something that if people don’t like what you say they try to make sure they can cancel you, which means try to ruin your life, ruin everything.
“One thing I saw this week was a bunch of country music fans that can see through a lot of the bulls***. I saw country music fans rally like I’ve never seen before and it was pretty badass, I gotta say. Thank you guys so much.”
“Somebody asked me, ‘Hey man, do you think you’re going to play this song tonight?’” he also said. “The answer was simple. The people have spoken and you guys spoke very, very loudly this week.”
Aldean has clearly garnered a lot of support, as proven by the track’s rocketing up the Billboard Hot 100. Per The Washington Post, ‘Try That In A Small Town’ is the best-selling country song to debut on the chart in more than a decade.
However, following the song’s chart success, everyone is saying the same thing.
One person wrote: “Ah, ok, so the song and It’s ‘controversy’ was really a ploy to draw attention so that he can get popular.”
A second agreed: “Controversy sells.”
While a third penned that the track’s charting was “not despite controversy,” but “because of controversy.”