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Country music is having a moment, but it’s more significant than it looks.
Three country stars sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the first days of August. That marked a first for the Heartland-friendly genre, according to the music charting company which began tallying such figures in 1958.
Jason Aldean (“Try That in a Small Town”), Morgan Wallen (“Last Night”), and Luke Combs (“Fast Car”) held the first three spots, beating back pop superstars like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and The Weeknd.
Those achievements matter more than just for historical purposes. Each artist ran headfirst into the woke mob and not only survived but thrived. And, by extension, the public stood behind the trio and sent a message with their purses and wallets.
You can’t cancel country stars without our permission.
Aldean’s right-leaning politics emerged during the Trump years. The singer says he couldn’t stay silent on political matters any longer, and he began addressing issues like vaccine mandates and President Joe Biden’s wobbly first term.
That may have raised some eyebrows in Left-leaning Country, Inc. but Aldean enraged the woke Left by uncorking his ode to patriotic small towns. His “Try That in a Small Town” came out in the spring, but the music video behind the song gave it a promotional booster shot in recent weeks.
The video and the song’s lyrics address the BLM/Antifa riots that engulfed the country following the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020:
Got a gun that my granddad gave me
They say one day they’re gonna round up
Well, that s*** might fly in the city, good luck
Try that in a small town
See how far ya make it down the road
Around here, we take care of our own
You cross that line, it won’t take long
For you to find out, I recommend you don’t
Try that in a small town
The song’s pugnacious lyrics took no prisoners, but musicians have told violent stories for years without blowback. Tell that to the media and the Left. They joined forces against Aldean. CMT pulled the music video from its lineup. Critics lambasted its lyrics as reminiscent of a “pro-lynching” mindset. Variety dubbed it, “the most contemptible country song of the decade.”
It didn’t matter that Aldean’s song doesn’t mention race, or that the BLM/Antifa riots were multicultural to the core. Nor that Aldean could have been writing from the perspective of a fed-up soul, sick of seeing his country burning.
Songwriters embrace the creative license to spin tales from any number of vantage points.
Not Aldean. Here’s what he said to a Cincinnati crowd in reference to the controversy:
“It’s been a long week, and I’ve seen a lot of stuff suggesting I’m this, suggesting I’m that … I feel like everybody’s entitled to their opinions. You can think something all you want to it doesn’t mean it’s true.”
“What I am is a proud American. I’m proud to be from here. I love our country. I want to see it restored to what it once was before all this bulls*** started happening to us. I love my country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that, I can tell you that right now.”
No apology. No backpedal.
Soon enough, the song started making serious noise on various charts before hitting number one via Billboard.
Aldean stood up to the Cancel Culture mob and won. He still may suffer professional consequences, but it’s clear his fans have his back.
Wallen’s Cancel Culture fight proved far more insidious.
In 2021, TMZ released a privately shot video in which Wallen used the “n-word.” He didn’t say it in a public venue, nor did he hurl it at a black person (he later indicated he directed the word at a good friend, and he was inebriated at the time.) He apologized immediately, but it wasn’t accepted by many in his industry. Wallen’s music got pulled from radio and streaming platforms the very next day, the latter including Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon Music. The ACM Awards said he was ineligible to win that year and his label suspended him “indefinently.” His booking agent also dropped him.
He later publicly apologized, met with black leaders, suspended his touring schedule, and checked into a rehab facility.
His fans stood by him. In fact, Wallen’s record sales soared following the cancellation.
The singer slowly re-entered the music marketplace, returning to live performances and releasing fresh material to build his career back.
It worked. His sales continued to climb and fans packed his appearances. Meanwhile, the press recoiled at his recovery efforts, suggesting he should remain canceled, indefinitely.
The public made the final call. Again.
Combs’ woke battle happened in a much smaller fashion, but it’s still indicative of the press’ disdain for the genre. The singer uncorked a respectful cover of the 1988 Tracy Chapman smash “Fast Car,” and the song quickly connected with a new generation.
That makes for a great story – one of the more unlikely crossover hits in recent memory. The Washington Post saw the story and decided to make Chapman, who is black and gay, a victim:
“Although many are thrilled to see ‘Fast Car’ back in the spotlight and a new generation discovering Chapman’s work, it’s clouded by the fact that, as a Black queer woman, Chapman, 59, would have almost zero chance of that achievement herself in country music.”
The article got roasted, and rightly so, on social media. Chapman hardly seemed upset by the turn of events. The cover version earned her a small fortune, and she praised Combs for putting her back atop the music charts.
“I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there. I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”
Three country smashes. Three woke fails.
The far-Left can throw its weight around all it wants, but when the American public unites it remains a far more powerful force.
Just ask any Bud Light executive, assuming he or she is still gainfully employed.
Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.