“Cancel Culture Is A Thing,” Says Jason Aldean As His Song Debuts At #2
Last week, country musician Jason Aldean released a music video for “Try That In A Small Town.” The single originally came out in May, but received a new surge of attention as it became a lightning rod for controversy once the video was pulled from Country Music Television a few days after it premiered on the network, as it was accused of promoting racialized violence and vigilante justice.
At a concert in Cincinnati on Friday night, Aldean addressed what he called the “long ass week” he had as a result of the furor around the video and song. “Cancel culture is a thing … If people don’t like what you say, they try and make sure they can cancel you, which means try and ruin your life, ruin everything,” he said, as USA Today notes. “One thing I saw this week was a bunch of country music fans that could see through a lot of the bullshit, all right? I saw country music fans rally like I’ve never seen before and it was pretty badass to watch, I gotta say.”
Certain country music fans did rally, alright, and canceled Aldean all the way to a #2 debut on this week’s Billboard Hot 100 chart. Though “Try That In A Small Town” was officially released back in May, it hadn’t charted and didn’t receive a push to radio until this past week. Per Billboard, the song bowed with the biggest sales week for a country song in over a decade. It sold 228,000 units, with 11.6 million streams and 7.3 million radio airplay impressions.
Country music fans have nothing on BTS fans, at least. At the top of the Hot 100 chart this week is Jungkook’s debut solo single “Seven.” The Latto-featuring track had 21.9 million streams, 6.4 million airplay audience, and 153,000 sales, from a combination of digital and CD singles.
The Aldean controversy has attracted a whole lot of commentary. On Twitter, Jason Isbell challenged Aldean to write a song himself — “Try That In A Small Town” was written by a team of songwriters: Kelley Lovelace, Neil Thrasher, Tully Kennedy, and Kurt Allison.
“Dare Aldean to write his next single himself. That’s what we try in my small town,” Isbell wrote. “Ok here ya go @Jason_Aldean I’m challenging you to write a song yourself. All alone. If you’re a recording artist, make some art. I want to hear it.”
Isbell also appeared on MSNBC to discuss the controversy.
In further Aldean developments, as Billboard reports, a viral TikTok deep dive points out that one of Aldean’s promotional videos for “Try That In A Small Town” (which was posted back in May) included an obscure newspaper article in the background.
The article in question was from the 1956 issue of the out-of-print Mississippi publication The Petal Paper, created by the Southern journalist Percy Dale East, who used satire to criticize Jim Crow era policies. He was eventually run out of town after receiving three death threats in one week.
UPDATE: Aldean’s video has now been revised to remove Black Lives Matter protest footage, but his label says it’s due to clearance issues and not criticism, the Tennessean reports.