Jason Aldean has come under fire in recent weeks for his latest track, ‘Try That in a Small Town’, which was released on May 19, particularly with the release of its music video on July 14.
Several listeners have taken to social media to brand the song as “racist” or “radical” in its approach, with members of the country music industry also sharing their thoughts.
But what caused reactions to the song to explode over the past week, nearly two months after it was first released? Read on to learn more…
What is Jason Aldean’s ‘Try That in a Small Town’ about?
The country singer’s first release of the year, ‘Try That in a Small Town’ is about the sense of community in rural, smaller communities as opposed to big city spaces.
The 46-year-old mentions crimes like carjacking, burning the flag, robbery, and protests against the police, saying that they were much less likely to happen in small towns. Controversially, Jason cites his preference for having a gun of his own.
“Try that in a small town/See how far ya make it down the road,” the chorus states, continuing that if “you’re looking for a fight/Try that in a small town.”
Why is Jason Aldean’s ‘Try That in a Small Town’ receiving backlash?
The backlash began when the music video for the track was released last week, which was shot in Columbia, Tennessee (Jason’s home state) and features shots of staged crimes and news clippings interspersed with those of the singer and his band.
His choice of backdrop, the Maury County courthouse, immediately sparked backlash, as it was the site of the lynching of 18-year-old Black teenager Henry Choate in 1927 and the Columbia Race Riots in 1946.
The criticism of the video, which featured imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against police brutality, brought renewed attention to the lyrics, prompting many to deem it pro-gun violence and the archaic idea of sundown towns.
What have people said about Jason Aldean’s ‘Try That in a Small Town’?
Several on social media have spoken out against and in favor of the song, with Democratic lawmakers criticizing the track and many others calling out his and wife Brittany’s past controversial takes on conservative politics and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.
Tennessee’s NAACP Chapter President Gloria Sweet-Love lambasted the song and its accompanying music video to TMZ, saying that it was “deeply offensive to people of color, especially Black people.”
Fellow musicians have spoken up as well, with Sheryl Crow tweeting: “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.”
Jason Isbell also wrote: “Dare Aldean to write his next single himself. That’s what we try in my small town,” while Margo Price added: “Just popping on here to say Jason Aldean is a clown. What else do y’all expect from a man who wore black face in 2015?”
The ‘Dirt Road Anthem’ singer released a statement in response to the backlash, emphasizing that the notions that his song was racist “are not only meritless, but dangerous.”
“‘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 neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief. Because they were our neighbors, and that was above any differences,” he continued.
He cited as well that having been present at the 2017 Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival, he added that “NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart.”
How has Jason Aldean’s ‘Try That in a Small Town’ performed?
The music video was removed from rotation on CMT days after it was released, and while a pre-recorded version was performed during July 19’s CMA Fest, ABC did not air the video.
However, the video is still up on YouTube and has received nearly six million views in six days. The song is also building in radio play and sales, currently sitting at the top of the US iTunes charts.
While it hasn’t made a major impact on any national Billboard charts, it cracked the top 40 of the Hot Country Songs chart in June, and is predicted to soar next week thanks to renewed interest in the track.