On Friday, July 14, Jason Aldean released the music video for his latest single, “Try That In A Small Town.” Aldean and the country music community hadn’t anticipated the stir the video would cause and the division that would follow.
“Try That In A Small Town” was released in May as the first single from Jason Aldean’s upcoming 11th studio album. Upon the song’s release, Aldean wrote, “To me, this song summarizes the way a lot of people feel about the world right now. It seems like there are bad things happening on a daily basis, and that feels unfamiliar to a lot of us. This song sheds some light on that.”
The lyrics of the song draw comparisons between big cities and small towns and condemns riots and other crimes often seen in cities. “Try That In A Small Town” didn’t receive a great deal of attention upon its release, but that all changed when the accompanying video was released.
WHAT CAUSED THE JASON ALDEAN CONTROVERSY?
The music video for “Try That In A Small Town” was filmed in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, and featured news clips of riots, outbursts against police officers and more. Historical documents show that the courthouse shown was the site of numerous counts of racial violence, including the lynching of a black teenager in 1927.
Jason Aldean is a long-time outspoken political conservative and some of his critics, namely Biden activist Shannon Watts, were quick to accuse Jason of racism, vigilanteism, and white nationalism.
Tennessee State Representative Justin Jones called “Try That In A Small Town” a “heinous, vile, racist” song. Jones suggests that Jason Aldean intentionally filmed his video in front of the courthouse that has a deep history of racial violence.
Jones’ comments fueled the embers of the beginning stages of controversy that would eventually blow up into one of the most divisive conversations the country music industry has seen in recent years.
WHAT WAS THE EFFECT OF THE CONTROVERSY?
The controversy started a conversation that spread far beyond the walls of the country music genre. The simple song about small town life quickly became a political talking point with politicians from both sides sharing their thoughts. A year ahead of the 2024 Presidential election, politicians didn’t hesitate to chime in. Former President Donald Trump, and governors such as Sarah Huckabee Sanders (AR), Ron DeSantis (FL) and Kristi Noem (SD) and weighed in on the subject, voicing support for Aldean.
The Left is now more concerned about @Jason_Aldean’s song calling out looters and criminals than they are about stopping looters and criminals.
That tells you everything you need to know about the priorities of Democrats and woke companies like CMT that cave to the liberal mob. https://t.co/ctYP7FRxrv
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) July 19, 2023
— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) July 19, 2023
Celebrities such as musicians Jason Isbell and Sheryl Crow are a few of those who have spoken out against Aldean.
Dare Aldean to write his next single himself. That’s what we try in my small town
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) July 19, 2023
Sheryl Crow addressed Jason Aldean on social media, saying: “I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence.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.”
The debate caused CMT, the Country Music Television network, to pull Jason Aldean’s music video from its lineup, further stirring the pot. Many Jason Aldean supporters called for a Bud Light-style boycott of the network, a reference to the recent boycott of the beer brand after their controversial partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
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In a statement issued to social media, Jason Aldean condemned critics of the song, calling their accusations “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 video 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.”
In the past 24 hours 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. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous.…
— Jason Aldean (@Jason_Aldean) July 18, 2023
WHAT WAS THE RESULT OF THE CONTROVERSY
The attention drawn to “Try That In A Small Town” and the overwhelming support of the conservative community launched the song to the top of the iTunes all-genre Top Songs chart. In addition, four of Jason’s albums currently sit in the top ten of the all-genre Top Albums chart, placing him above Taylor Swift, Morgan Wallen and other cross-genre hitmakers.
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Billboard is reporting that Jason Aldean’s single sold 227,000 U.S. digital downloads this week based on preliminary reports. It’s predicted to be #1 in digital sales with results to be confirmed on Monday.
At press time, the official music video for “Try That In A Small Town” has garnered nearly 30 million views across all platforms.
See the video that has everyone talking below.