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Jason Aldean's "Try That in a Small Town": A Controversy in Country Music

(Jason Aldean's Facebook, 2023)

Jason Aldean's song, Try That in a Small Town, was released back in May, but recently caused a stir within the country music community and beyond with the release of its accompanying music video. People who had never heard of Aldean skyrocketed this song that went mostly unnoticed upon release all the way up to number 2 on the Billboard charts. Departing from traditional themes, the song delved into sensitive issues, challenging the norm in country music.

"Try That" in a Small Town is a gritty ballad that tells the story of a disillusioned young man in a small town. It addresses the pressure to conform to societal norms and the longing for something beyond the ordinary, offering a raw and unfiltered perspective on small-town life.

Breaking away from the genre's usual narratives, Try That in a Small Town tackled themes of rebellion and disillusionment. This departure from traditional patriotism and happy endings sparked both admiration and criticism among country music fans and critics.

The song's blunt and honest lyrics struck a chord with some listeners who related to the protagonist's struggles. However, critics felt it painted an unfavorable image of small towns, perpetuating stereotypes and disrespecting the genre's roots. The music video in particular included scenes from news coverage of violence pertaining to Black Lives Matter protests, which as of Friday, July 28, has been taken down from the official video on Youtube.

The song divided country music enthusiasts, with some embracing its authenticity and others condemning its negative portrayal of small-town life. Radio stations faced a dilemma in deciding whether to play the controversial track or avoid potential backlash. Part of the issue lies in the fact that this song has been politicized on both sides, with support or condemnation dwindling in support of a political party rather than for country music’s sake.

Jason Aldean defended "Try That" in a Small Town, explaining that it aimed to shed light on the challenges faced by young people in rural areas. He clarified that his intention was never to demean small-town life but to offer a different perspective within the genre. Thursday, July 27, Aldean took to the Merriweather stage in Maryland amidst controversy and played the song with an American flag draped down his back.

Jason Aldean's "Try That" in a Small Town continues to challenge the status quo in country music, sparking discussions about the genre's boundaries. While generating both praise and criticism, the song proved that music has the power to provoke thought and initiate change, even in the context of a small town.

Watch the music video below:


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