Last week, Jason Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town,” which the country star portrays as a paean to neighborly values but critics have described as a call to racist vigilantism, opened at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, after its music video became a culture war battleground.
Now the song has ascended to the peak, becoming the first No. 1 single on Billboard’s all-genre singles chart in Aldean’s nearly two-decade career as a top Nashville hitmaker.
Just two weeks ago, before the controversy began, the song was posting minimal numbers. But in its most recent week out, it garnered 31 million streams, sold 175,000 copies and reached a radio audience of nine million people in the United States, according to the tracking service Luminate.
As the song has stirred debate, tweaks have been made to its music video, which early on was pulled without explanation by Country Music Television but remains available on YouTube. Last week, a new version appeared, six seconds shorter than the original and scrubbed of news clips showing Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
Aldean has denied that “Try That” is “a pro-lynching song,” or that race plays any part in the song’s lyrics. “These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” he wrote on social media.
On the album chart, the K-pop group NewJeans beat the “Barbie” soundtrack in a photo finish.
“Get Up,” a six-track EP by NewJeans, a quintet that is part of the newest wave of K-pop acts, opens at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with the equivalent of 126,500 sales in the United States, according to Luminate. “Barbie: The Album,” featuring Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Sam Smith, Billie Eilish and other artists, was credited with 126,000. (The service’s publicly reported figures are rounded.)
The results were delayed by several days, with Billboard saying only that there was a “processing issue” in combing through the data.
The breakdown of the two albums’ “equivalent” numbers — which are determined by comparing sales, streams and track downloads — illustrates the various ways music is consumed these days, and how different formats can affect the charts.
“Get Up,” like many K-pop releases, came out in a variety of collectible CD packages. Of its 126,500 equivalents, 101,000 copies were sold as complete albums, with 99 percent of that on CD, according to Billboard; songs from it were also streamed 34 million times.
“Barbie: The Album,” on the other hand, sold 53,000 copies as a complete package — 33,000 on vinyl — and had 94 million streams.
The arrival of NewJeans and “Barbie” sent last week’s top album, Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” to No. 4, while Morgan Wallen’s “One Thing at a Time” falls to No. 3, the first time in 21 weeks that it has dipped lower than second place. Also this week, “Génesis,” by the Mexican songwriter Peso Pluma, is No. 5.