When the new single and music video for country musician Jason Aldean’s song, “Try That in a Small Town,” were published, they quickly became the subject of a fiery debate. The music video blended news footage from “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations with lyrics that some saw as endorsing racism and being in favor of lynchings. The controversial passages made mention of disrespecting the American flag and defying authority. CMT removed the song video without giving a reason after Aldean was criticized for encouraging racism and violence.
Aldean defended himself online in the wake of the criticism, fiercely denying that the song and accompanying music video had any racist undertones. He affirmed that there was no mention of race in the song and stressed that the lyrics were written by other authors. The crux of the song, according to Aldean, is about the sense of community he had growing up, where neighbors looked out for one another regardless of their backgrounds or views.
Even after his justifications, the song was nevertheless criticized, with some calling it “the most contemptible country song of the decade.” Aldean had already drawn flak for his wife’s transphobic remarks on Instagram, which occurred in 2021, so this wasn’t the first time he had to deal with trouble. Aldean furthered the unfavorable impression that some people had of him by openly defending the opinions of his wife.
Aldean started his Jason Aldean’s Highway Desperado tour amidst the ongoing controversy. When Aldean was hospitalized for heatstroke, the tour suffered a setback and some gigs had to be rescheduled.
The narrative emphasizes the difficulty and sensitivity of addressing racial, political, and social concerns in the public sphere. Although Aldean insisted his song was not racially offensive and that it had been misunderstood, the incident raised questions about how musicians should be careful with their use of language and imagery. Public figures are under more scrutiny in a time when social justice concerns are more widely understood, and their deeds and words can have a big impact on how the public perceives them and their careers.
The narrative serves as a helpful reminder of the value of considerate communication and the requirement that artists be conscious of the potential effects of their work on various audiences. It also highlights the ongoing difficulties society has managing debates about race, identity, and free speech.