In a turn of events that might leave devoted enthusiasts scratching their heads, the fervent supporters of Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” have seemingly lost interest in the song. After a meteoric rise to the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart last week, the controversial track has experienced a significant drop, plummeting from its lofty Number One position to a rather modest Number 21.
This rollercoaster journey began when the song initially made waves with its April release, only to intensify due to the arrival of a polarizing music video. The video sparked heated debates, with critics from various spheres — including the country music realm and academia — accusing it of promoting white nationalism and distorting protests against racial injustice as anarchic and violent. In response, CMT pulled the video from its rotation, and certain segments depicting Atlanta protests were subsequently edited out (although the Canadian footage remained untouched).
As history has shown, controversies often trigger counter-reactions, and the backlash against “Try That in a Small Town” was no exception. A coalition of conservatives and Aldean admirers rallied behind the song, streaming and purchasing it with fervor, aiming to boost its chart position. Although the initial attempt fell shy of the Number One mark, with the song settling at Number Two behind Jung Kook and Latto’s “Seven,” they persisted. The subsequent week saw their efforts bear fruit as “Try That in a Small Town” triumphantly ascended to the Number One spot on the Hot 100 chart.
However, this fleeting triumph proved to be short-lived. According to data from Luminate, the song’s streaming numbers experienced a substantial decline, dropping by 53 percent from its peak of 30.7 million streams during its Number One week to a meager 16.5 million. Additionally, the song’s sales suffered a significant blow, plummeting by 85 percent to just over 26,000 copies. Despite this decline, the track managed to maintain its dominance on the Billboard Digital Song Sales chart for a third consecutive week.
This precipitous decline from the summit of the Hot 100 marks one of the most significant drops in the chart’s history, aligning with other notable tracks such as Jimin’s “Like Crazy” (Number One to 45), Taylor Swift’s “Willow” (One to 38), 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj’s “Trollz” (One to 34), BTS’ “Life Goes On” (One to 28), and Travis Scott, Young Thug, and M.I.A.’s “Franchise” (One to 25).
Nonetheless, while the track may have lost its grip on the Hot 100, it remains a formidable contender on the country charts. On the Hot Country Songs chart, “Try That in a Small Town” slid to Number Three, ceding the top positions to the reigning hits of the year: Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night” and Luke Combs’ “Fast Car,” which simultaneously occupy the Number One and Two slots on the Hot 100. Interestingly, the song experienced a rise on the Country Airplay chart, climbing from 25 to 20.
Throughout the tumultuous journey of “Try That in a Small Town,” Jason Aldean has consistently defended the song against its detractors and vehemently refuted claims of its alleged “pro-lynching” undertones. During a recent concert in Cincinnati, he expressed gratitude to fans for their unwavering support, acknowledging their defiance against cancel culture. In another instance, Aldean attempted to draw an unexpected connection between the song’s controversy and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing during a concert in Boston.
In the ever-evolving narrative of “Try That in a Small Town,” its rapid ascent and subsequent fall underscore the dynamic interplay between art, controversy, and audience response. As the dust settles and the song navigates the complex terrain of public opinion, Jason Aldean’s journey continues, marked by both triumphs and challenges.