Twitter Divided After Jason Aldean’s ‘Try That in a Small Town’ Airs on ‘CMA Fest’ [Watch]
Jason Aldean's CMA Fest performance of "Try That in a Small Town" has been in the setlist for the CMA Fest television special ever since the lineup was announced earlier this month, but in light of the controversy surrounding the song and its music video, some viewers wondered if it would be removed from the broadcast.
Hours before the special began on Wednesday night (July 19), TMZ reported that Aldean's performance would air as scheduled, but clarified that no portion of the music video would be on TV during his live performance.
That's not a big surprise, since when Aldean performed "Try That in a Small Town" during the 2023 CMA Fest — where the special was taped — the song's music video was still a few weeks away from being released.
The Country Music Association didn't upload the televised performance to its official YouTube channel, but you can see fan-filmed video of Aldean performing "Try That in a Small Town" at CMA Fest — where the special was taped — in early June.
The controversy around "Try That in a Small Town" got heated over the weekend, after the music video dropped last Friday (July 17). Critics denounced Aldean's single as racist dogwhistling and a glorification of gun-based vigilante justice, also pointing to the fact that much of the video was filmed in front of the Maury County courthouse, the site of a 1927 hanging of a Black man named Henry Choate who was lynched and killed by a mob.
Many also felt that the song's pro-gun message felt jarring from Aldean, who was the performer onstage during the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting in 2017, a tragedy that left 60 people dead and injured more than 400 others. That massacre remains the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in U.S. history.
The "Try That in a Small Town" video was pulled from CMT rotation on Tuesday (July 18).
After Aldean's performance during CMA Fest aired, some fans applauded the song's message — and the network's decision not to edit it out of the broadcast.
"Aldean is accused of being racist for the song and encouraging violence," one fan wrote, also noting that "Try That in a Small Town" hit the No. 1 spot on U.S. iTunes this week. "The song does neither but state the truth."
"Best thing on TV tonight ... Jason Aldean singing the song that got him 'canceled' on CMA Fest!" another fan wrote.
But not everyone was happy to see Aldean's performance of "Try That in a Small Town" included in the special.
"[ABC] and [the CMA] should be ashamed for letting white supremacist [Jason Aldean] perform 'Try That in a Small Town' on CMA Fest," one viewer wrote on Twitter. "Shame on all of you for promoting white propaganda!"
"Not Jason Aldean. A disgrace to country music," another added.
Earlier this week, Aldean released a statement in response to the backlash around "Try That in a Small Town," saying that the accusations being leveled against him 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," the singer continued.
He also addressed those who've spoken about his close proximity to the Route 91 mass shooting, saying, "NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart."
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