Jason Aldean: Accusations About My Song Are 'Dangerous'

CMT pulls music video amid backlash over song critics say encourages violence
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2023 11:45 AM CDT

Country Music Television pulled a music video from country music superstar Jason Aldean on Monday after critics said it contained racist dog whistles. The lyrics of "Try That in a Small Town," a song released in May, include veiled threats against people who try to seize guns or curse out a cop. But the music video, released Friday, conflates these people with protesters, and according to some, Black Lives Matter protesters specifically. More:

  • The song: In the view of Chris Willman at Variety, it's "about how tiny burgs are under the imminent threat of attack from lawless urban marauders who will have to be kept at bay by any means necessary—meaning, pretty explicitly, vigilantism."
  • The lyrics: Aldean sings about people who might "carjack an old lady" or "stomp on the flag." "Well, try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road," goes the chorus. "You cross that line, it won't take long / For you to find out." He adds small towns are "Full of good ol' boys, raised up right / If you're looking for a fight."

  • The video: Aldean appears in front of Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, as real-life footage of protests is shown. In Willman's view, demonstrators come off as "the prime bogeyman" in the video that "conflates the act of protesting with violent crime" and fosters an "us vs. them" mentality.
  • Backlash: While CMT offered no comment on its decision to pull the video, Sheryl Crow accused Aldean of "promoting violence," and noted that he is a mass-shooting survivor, per the Guardian. Shannon Watts, founder of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, said Aldean was singing about "how he and his friends will shoot you if you try to take their guns," per Billboard.
  • Aldean responds: In a tweet Tuesday, the singer said, "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."

  • Aldean's politics: Past events are factoring into the reaction. As the New York Post reports, Aldean is "an outspoken conservative" whose wife has been accused of transphobia and whose kids have been photographed in anti-Joe Biden shirts. Aldean is also known to rub elbows with Donald Trump.
  • Fans: For some conservatives, the song is a "banger." It "rips into the left-wing riots, soft on crime governance in cities, gun control, and other leftist degradation," according to Twitter's @greg_price11. Per Billboard, the song rose Tuesday from No. 11 to No. 1 on the iTunes US Songs chart.
(More Jason Aldean stories.)

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