Jason Aldean’s controversial song “Try it in a small town” is pulling in large quantities.
Luminate, which tracks music sales and streams, says audio and video-on-demand streams of the song have jumped 999 percent (from 987,000 to 11.7 million) in the week after talk about the song exploded online.
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Sales of the song have also increased: in the week before the controversy, the track sold only 1,000 units; last week it sold 228,000 units, according to Luminate.
CMT released the music video for the song from its rotation last Tuesday, when the clip only had approximately 350,000 views on YouTube. Now, it has been viewed 16.6 million times.
The success helped the song debut at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 all-genre chart and No. 1 on the Country Popular Songs chart. It marks Aldean’s highest-charting single on the Hot 100 and beats songs like Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night,” Luke Combs’ Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” Rema and Selena Gomez’s “Calm Down,” Olivia Rodrigo’s “Vampire” and Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.” Aldean’s previous Hot 100 top was “Dirt Road Anthem,” which peaked at No. 7 in 2011.
Aldean released “Try That in a Small Town” in May, but the accompanying music video was released on July 14. The clip features American flag burning, protests, looting and more, and has been criticized by some for promoting gun violence and targeting the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the video, Aldean performs in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, the site of the 1946 Columbia Race Riot and the 1927 mob lynching of Henry Choate, an 18-year-old black teenager.
Aldean didn’t write the song, but it includes the lyrics: “Cuss out a cops, spit in his face / Step on the flag and light it up / Yeah, you think you’re tough / Well, try it in a small town / See how far you get along the way.” Aldean later sings in the song, “Got a gun that my grandpa gave me / They say they’re gonna round up one day / Well, that shit might fly into town, good luck.”
Responses to the song have been divided; Sheryl CrowJason Isbell and Margo Price have criticized the song and video, while donald trumpRon DeSantis, Blanco Brown, Cody Johnson and Brantley Gilbert have voiced their support for Aldean.
Aldean, one of country music’s biggest stars, defended the song in a lengthy statement, calling the claims made against the song “not only without merit, but dangerous.” The singer also defended the song during a concert this weekend in Cincinnatiwhere he performed the song and received cheers from the audience as well as “USA” chants.
“In the last 24 hours I’ve been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song… and was subject to the comparison that (direct quote) I wasn’t too pleased with the national BLM protests. These references are not only pointless, but dangerous,” he wrote. “There’s not a single lyric in the song that references or points to race, and there’s not a video clip that isn’t actual news footage, and while I can try to respect others for having their own interpretation of a song with music, this one goes too far.”
On social media, some users were outraged by the lyrics, especially since Aldean was performing on stage at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas in 2017 when a shooter opened fire, killing 60 concertgoers and injuring hundreds more. In her tweet, the Grammy-nominated star referenced the tragedy: “No one, including me, wants to keep seeing senseless headlines or families torn apart.”
During his weekend concert, Aldean addressed the “cancellation culture” when he spoke to his audience.
“Cancelling culture is something … that means trying to ruin your life, ruin everything,” he said. “One thing I saw this week was a lot of country music fans who were able to see through a lot of shit, okay? I saw country music fans come together like I’ve never seen before and it was pretty badass to see, I have to say.”
Luminate, the new name for the collection of data brands formerly known as Nielsen/MRC Data and Variety Business Intelligence, is owned by Penske Media Eldridge, the joint venture between Eldridge Industries and Penske Media Corporation that also owns. The Hollywood Reporter.
1:09 p.m. m Updated with Aldean’s song charting at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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