Amid the storm of criticism over Jason Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town,” it appears the music video to the controversial track has been quietly edited to remove some of the racially incendiary imagery.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the video for “Try That in a Small Town” currently featured on YouTube was now six seconds shorter than the version uploaded on July 14. The Post reports that a news clip from Fox 5 Atlanta about the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020 has been removed, although it is unclear when the changes were made.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Aldean’s reps for comment on the edits to the music video.
Aldean has faced widespread condemnation for both the lyrics to “Try That in a Small Town” and the accompanying music video, with critics lambasting the song for promoting gun violence and taking direct aim at the Black Lives Matter movement with some commentators suggesting that the song and video were pro-lynching with its coded references.
Notably in the video Aldean and his band perform in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee which was the site of the 1946 Columbia race riot and the 1927 mob lynching of an 18-year-old Black teenager named Henry Choate.
On July 18, following a barrage of criticism on social media, Country Music Television pulled Aldean’s song from its rotation. The following day, the singer responded on Twitter, denying the song had racial elements to it, coded or otherwise. “In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song … 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,” he wrote.
Aldean added, “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 controversy has been a boon for the song, with both sales and streams for “Try That in a Small Town” experiencing a huge spike. Music data company Luminate says the song’s on-demand audio and video streams have increased by 999 percent — from 987,000 to 11.7 million — in the week after the controversy about the song exploded online. Sales for the song are up as well: For the week before the controversy, the track only sold 1,000 units; last week it sold 228,000 units, according to Luminate.