Jason Aldean’s ‘Try That in a Small Town’ hits No. 1 on Billboard country chart after controversy

Jason Aldean performs during the 2023 CMA Fest on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at Nissan Stadium...
Jason Aldean performs during the 2023 CMA Fest on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.(Amy Harris | Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 11:23 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(Gray News) – Jason Aldean is making waves on the Billboard music charts this week following the controversy over his new single “Try That in a Small Town” and its music video.

As of Tuesday morning, the song debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 2 on the Billboard Global 200, and No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart.

Aldean is also ranked third on the Billboard Artist 100 this week, with Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen claiming the first and second place spots, respectively.

Last week, “Try That in a Small Town” made headlines after its music video was released, which garnered mixed reactions. Some said it was glorifying lynching, racial tension, and violence.

Controversial imagery and messages throughout the song and video include protests and riots in large cities, with Aldean saying that behavior wouldn’t fly in small towns.

“Cuss out a cop, spit in his face / Stomp on the flag and light it up / Yeah, ya think you’re tough / Well, try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road,” the country star sings.

The music video is stocked with news footage from recent years, showing protests in big cities, American flags being burned, and attacks on police officers.

Adding to the controversy, viewers noted that the music video was shot in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where an 18-year-old Black man named Henry Choate was lynched in 1927.

One viral tweet read, “Jason Aldean shot this at the site where a white lynch mob strung Henry Choate up at the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., after dragging his body through the streets with a car in 1927. That’s where Aldean chose to sing about murdering people who don’t respect police.”

The courthouse was also the site of the infamous Columbia Race Riot in 1946 that left two Black men dead, more than 100 arrested, and 25 tried by jury on charges of shooting at white police officers.

Following the criticism, CMT pulled the music video from its rotation, but Aldean came back to defend it.

The singer posted a message on his Instagram story and to his Twitter account, writing in part:

“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.”

The “Try That in a Small Town” music video has gained more than 18 million views on YouTube since its debut on July 14.