Jason Aldean He gave his first concert on Friday since the lawless anthem”Try This In A Small TownOn Friday night, his divisive, threatening song and video swore against the opposition “cancel culture”, sparking a national firestorm and arousing the admiration of a Cincinnati crowd.
“It’s been a long week. I’ve seen a lot of things saying, ‘This is who I am,'” Aldean said as audiences at the Riverbend Music Center booed the opposition he was facing. “I think everyone is right in their opinion. You can think anything you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. I’m a proud American… I love our country. I want to see it go back to how it was before all this crap started happening to us. I love my country. I love my family. The crowd “USA! USES!”
He continued, “You know how it is today, cancel culture… In this day and age, people try to make sure they can cancel you if they don’t like what you’re saying, which means trying to ruin your life. Destroy everything. One thing I saw this week was a group of country music fans who could see through a lot of bullshit. I’ve seen country music fans gather in a way I’ve never seen before, and I have to say it was pretty tough. Thank you very much guys.”
Some of the criticisms of the song and video were related to the long list of lyrics suggesting that if big-towners brought them to a small town, they would be subject to swift retaliation – some involving violent crimes (car hijacking, liquor store robberies), some about hooliganism that is common even in small towns (“cursing the cops”), some of which are legal, the use of self-inflicted vengeance in the First Amendment-protected song (in the solitary protest of the flag). may have). The music video goes further though, mostly showing footage of demonstrators (some stock footage of Canadian protests) and brief violent crime footage. The targets of the song’s vigilante threats seem messy, so to speak.
But the only example Aldean offered in defense of the song at the Cincinnati concert was something that was not included in either the lyrics or the music video: mass murders.
“I know many of you grew up like me,” Aldean said. “You have the same values, the same principles that I have, so we want to take our kids to the movies and we don’t mind if a scumbag who comes in sets fire to the movie theater. Someone said to me, ‘Hey man, do you think you’re going to play this song tonight?’ “The answer was simple. People have spoken, and you have spoken very, very loudly this week.”
By projecting images of demonstrators in a famous 1920s courthouse where a Black man was hanged from a second-story window, some critics said the music video was meant to convey that today’s protesters deserve the same. Although Aldean defended the song on social media, he did not directly address the filming location issue, except to strongly argue that the song was not “lynching.”
Few major country artists have so far talked about Aldean’s song in one way or another, even as politicians and commentators on the right rushed to align themselves with the MAGA-supporting singer.
Contrary to a false meme that went viral among conservative country fans on social media on Friday, Luke Bryan did just that. Negative Take action to have their video pulled from CMT in response to the network’s removal of Aldean’s video from the playlist this week. However, at his own concert, Bryan showed his support for Aldean and introduced the song “Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Everyday” to the crowd, saying “Would you like to send this to my friend Jason Aldean, okay” and then “If you want to love each other, where are you?”
Artists based in Tennessee and leaning towards the American side didn’t hesitate to proudly take on the xenophobic piece of Aldean or the video that some see as inherently or overtly racist.
Adeem the Artist took to his social media to share the post “Sundown Town”, a parody piece By clarifying what Adeem sees as historical racial undertones between the lines in the song. Margo Price republished a story about the black-faced Aldean eight years ago, writing: “I just came here to say that Jason Aldean is a clown. What else do you expect from a black-faced man in 2015?” Sheryl Crow said, “I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are fed up with violence. There’s no small town or American in inciting violence. You should know that better than any survivor of a mass shooting. It’s not American or small town-like. It’s just lame.
american artist Jason Isbel and mainstream country singer Jake Owen took a brief back and forth on Twitter, with Owen telling Isbell that if he had a problem with Aldean, he should fight it in person rather than teasing him publicly.
Owen warned Isbell (including “Try That in a Small Town”) after making fun of the fact that the latter artist had hardly participated in writing the songs Aldean recorded during his twenty-year recording career. Jibed Isbell: “Dare to Aldean to write his next single himself. This is what we tried in my small town… I challenge you to write a song yourself. all alone. If you’re a recording artist, make some art. I want to hear… Seriously, how can you defend the content of a song you haven’t even entered the room with? You just got it from your producer.”
Owen responded by applauding, “Jason, you’re always the first to get to the keyboard and utter this stupid thing. Go near the guy in ‘in my small town’ and be a man to his face if you want the smoke… don’t tweet at him… tough guy.” Isbell responded to Owen, “What really struck me about this was that he said, ‘If you don’t believe you can physically take me down, you’re not allowed to disagree with me in front of everyone.’ What does that say to people who don’t have big strong kids in your life? They just have to shut up?”
Not surprisingly, Aldean said, “Why did CMT originally include Aldean’s song? If it was so terrible in July, why wasn’t it so terrible last May? Anyone going to interview CMT? Or no?” (Although the single debuted in May and most recently peaked at number 25 on the weekly radio chart, the video didn’t hit until July 14.) Other artists, known for their conservative perspectives, such as Travis Tritt and Lee Greenwood, also offered their support for Aldean. But since most artists are most interested in growing the nation’s audience rather than shrinking it, the majority hopes that whatever political lines of debate may be, the debate may disappear.
Controversy over the video gave a major boost to a song that had had only modest success in its previous two months. As of Thursday, “Small Town” didn’t make the daily Spotify USA Top 50 chart, but debuted in the top 20 on Friday and peaked at #7 as of Saturday (though it still ranks behind Morgan Wallen’s #3 “Last Night” when it comes to country songs).
(To read Variation‘s previous comment on the Aldean song and video Here.)
“Try This In A Small Town” makes no reference to trans or LGBTQ+ issues or vaccines or masking, to name some of the issues the singer and her husband have discussed controversially over the past few years. However, the singer’s wife, Brittany AldeanKnown for his animosity towards the trans community last year, he shared a message taken by some to indulge in homophobia on his Instagram Story stream in the midst of the firestorm: “A tip for our young children: In a world full of Sam Smiths, be a Jason Aldean.”