Jason Aldean performed his now-controversial hit, “Try That In a Small Town,” at the 50th Annual CMA Fest that took place in early June 2023.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of CMA Fest, formerly known as Fan Fest, ABC aired a 3-hour television special on Wednesday (July 19). The program featured an incredible lineup of country music talent including some of today’s biggest stars like Lainey Wilson, Cody Johnson, Jordan Davis and Ashley McBryde. Appearances also included timeless artists such as Reba McEntire, Alabama, Tanya Tucker and Tim McGraw.
One of the highlights of CMA Fest was Jason Aldean’s performance of his new single, “Try That In a Small Town.” The performance was well-received with ABC choosing to add it to their television special lineup.
Jason Aldean released the song on May 18 with support of the country music community and faced little to no backlash. But, upon the release of the song’s official music video on July 14, Aldean came under fire for what critics are now calling a “modern lynching song” that promotes violence.
CMT, a hub of country music video content, chose to pull the video from its lineup Monday. The moved caused many country music fans to call for a boycott of the company. It was uncertain whether ABC would keep Aldean’s performance in Wednesday night’s lineup amid the backlash.
Ultimately, ABC chose to air Jason’s performance of “Try That In a Small Town.” It was a bold move for a television network that will likely come under fire for the decision and has a history of canceling programs when controversy arises.
Fans took to social media to praise the network and CMA for not backing down to the pressure to pull his performance.
— Kelley Dawson (@kldawson1966) July 20, 2023
Thank you CMA Fest for playing Jason Aldeans new #1 hit! And I don’t care what anyone else thinks! lol!
— Robert conwell (@robert_trips) July 20, 2023
@Jason_Aldean Nice job @ CMA Fest, not sure if that was live, but either way, as someone who appreciates community, thanks for keeping it real in spite of the noise!
— B.T. – The Sequel (@brt315) July 20, 2023
Despite the backlash, Jason Aldean’s saw a surge of interest in his music and “Try That In a Small Town” in particular.
The song shot to the top of the iTunes all-genres Top Songs chart overnight. And, the singer recently kicked off his 41-city Highway Desperado Tour.
While ABC aired Jason’s performance Wednesday night, neither the network nor CMA uploaded the performance video online. So, fans who missed the television broadcast will have to settle for the official music video for “Try That In a Small Town” below.