Jason Aldean’s song “Try That In A Small Town” is No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week following the backlash over its music video.
The Aldean song is also No. 2 on the global chart and No. 1 on the country chart and Aldean is ranked No. 3 on the Hot 100 Artists chart.
The song was released in May and initially, the track got relatively little notice, landing at No. 35 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Billboard also reported on July 18 that the song had reached No. 1 on iTunes.
According to Luminate, the song hit 11.7 million on-demand audio and video streams between July 14 and 20.
The video features footage of protests and robberies projected onto a courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where 18-year-old Black man Henry Choate was lynched in 1927.
The Washington Post has reported that the Black Lives Matter protest footage was removed and is now six seconds shorter.
Critics say the song promotes violence. Its lyrics center on the divide between people in cities and rural areas (or “small towns”) where, according to Aldean, people aren’t as tolerant of certain behavior, like “(cussing) out a cop” or “(stomping) on the flag” and setting iron fire: “Try that in a small town / See how far you make it down the road / Around here we take care of our own.”
The lyrics point to gun ownership, which some say add to its threatening undertone: “Got a gun that my grandad gave me / They say one day they’re going to round up / Well that s—might fly in the city, good luck.”
The country, Aldean says, is full of “good ol’ boys” who were “raised up right.” Critics say the unsung message of the song is “racist.” In response to the song’s perceived subtext, country musician Adeem the Artist wrote a biting parody called “Sundown Town,” a word for towns that were historically dangerous for Black people to be in after dark.
In a statement made July 19, after CMT entirely removed the video from its rotation, Aldean also posted the following statement on social media:
“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. 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.”
Credit: ABC, CBS, Today