The song has become a lightning rod because of the lyrics combined with the newly-released music video, with images of Black Lives Matter protests, flag burning, and aggression toward police. The music video was also shot outside the same courthouse where there was a brutal lynching years ago. Folks on social media have ripped Aldean, claiming his song is a right-wing dog whistle.
Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ, ABC will air Aldean's performance but none of the music video will appear in the show. For the record, the music video was released after the festival. ABC could have used the music video in the show open or promos, but our sources say the network has taken a hard pass on that.
Aldean has defended the song, saying it has nothing to do with BLM but rather it's an anthem honoring neighbors helping each other in small towns.
Clearly, not everyone's buying it, but enough people are to propel the song to #1 on iTunes.
We discussed the controversy surrounding the song on the latest episode of The TMZ Podcast, available on all podcast platforms.