Jason Aldean's "Try That In A Small Town" debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Tuesday, a sign the song was rapidly rising the charts despite a controversial music video.
The track was originally released in May to little fanfare, but interest in the song came to a peak after the music video was released earlier this month.
"There is a wide, wide, enormous amount of interest around this song now that didn’t exist two months ago when it was released. And now it’s the second biggest song in the country," Jason Lipshutz, Billboard's executive director of music, said on TODAY.
The music video has provoked outrage because it prominently features a Tennessee courthouse where Black teenager Henry Choate was lynched in 1927, and where a race riot took place in 1946.
In the video, news clips of protests and police confrontations is projected onto the courthouse. Some of the footage appeared to be taken from Black Lives Matter protests and other demonstrations in response to police killings in recent years.
When reached for comment, Aldean's team referred NBC News to the singer's July 18 statement posted on Twitter.
"In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests," Aldean said in the statement.
"These references are not only meritless, but dangerous. 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," he added.
The production company behind the video said in a statement to NBC News Aldean did not select the filming location for the video, and that it was chosen because it's a popular place for productions to film in the area.
CMT pulled the music video from its rotation last week. The network confirmed to NBC News it still is not being aired.
Aldean addressed the controversy over the song at a concert in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 21.
"I've seen a lot of stuff suggesting I’m this, suggesting I’m that," Aldean told the audience. "I feel everybody’s entitled to their opinion. 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," he continued. "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."
The country star has also received support from conservative politicians like former President Donald Trump, who called Aldean "a fantastic guy." Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also called the track "a great song."
"We may have to use that the next time we do a public event," DeSantis added.
Fellow singer Sheryl Crow was among a growing chorus of voices denouncing the song's sentiments.
"There’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence," Crow wrote in a July 18 tweet. "You should know that better than anyone having survived a mass shooting. This is not American or small town-like. It’s just lame."
Crow's tweet references the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, where Aldean was performing when a gunman opened fire in 2017. Fifty-nine people died and hundreds of others were injured in the shooting.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com