Sketchy Things Everyone Just Ignores About Jason Aldean

Jason Aldean is a three-time ACM entertainer of the year award winner, and one of the highest paid country music stars in the industry. He's also a successful crossover artist, with two top-10 hits in the Billboard Hot 100, with his 2023 single "Try that in a Small Town" zooming to No. 1.

But his rise to becoming a Nashville superstar hasn't been without controversy. While his infamous affair with "American Idol" contestant Brittany Kerr and unfortunate decision to use blackface for a Lil Wayne Halloween costume have made headlines, Aldean seems to have a pattern of sketchy behavior that's always flown just below the radar. But when you put those pieces together, it doesn't exactly paint the best picture of the "Hicktown" singer and raises some troubling questions about how he appears to view women, country music fans, and pretty much anyone who isn't him. 

For further examples of that seemingly problematic behavior, read on for a look at some sketchy things that everyone just ignores about Jason Aldean.

Jason Aldean cheated on his wife while claiming to be a family man

In September 2012, Jason Aldean appeared on the cover of People magazine and presented himself as a devoted husband to wife Jessica Ussery and a doting dad who loved family dinners and tickle fights before bed with his two daughters. "It's my one of my favorite parts of the day," Aldean told the magazine. But barely two months later, the singer was photographed kissing Brittany Kerr at a Hollywood bar, which caused such a huge uproar with country music fans that Kerr was forced to delete her Twitter account (although she subsequently reinstated it).

In an interview with CMT Insider, Aldean took ownership for his actions, but he also tried to spin a narrative that things were working out with Ussery. "The main thing is that me and my family are OK, and everything's good there," he said. "So for everybody that stood by us, I appreciate it." However, Aldean would file for divorce from his wife just a few months later, and fans would soon learn that he'd allegedly been dating Kerr the whole time. The two would eventually get married in 2015 and, in 2017, announced that they were expecting a baby; the couple's son, Memphis, arrived that December. Their second child, this time a daughter, was born in 2019, given the name Navy Rose Williams.

But the whole situation was a bad look for Aldean, and he spent years trying to shake himself free of the scandal.

He's disrespected female country music stars

Jason Aldean made things worse for himself when he made the following comments to The Washington Post not long after the scandal with Brittany Kerr first broke: "I feel like a lot of times female singers, to me, when they're singing — and I'll probably kick myself for saying this — a lot of times, it just seems like I can't distinguish one from the other sometimes if I just listen to them, you know? A lot of times they just sound really similar to me."

What's ironic about Aldean's unnecessary insult towards his female colleagues is that, if you ask some fans and music critics alike, the entire country music genre has arguably had a problem with songs seemingly sounding exactly the same. More specifically, Aldean belongs to a sub-genre called "bro-country" that many feel is perhaps the worst offender of similar-sounding song thanks to a practice of using the same writers who all employ similar lyrics and themes much to the dismay of country music legends.

More on all of that below. But if you're a fan of country, you might say that Aldean is just about the last person who should be criticizing other artists, let alone making sexist remarks about his colleagues.

Jason Aldean's practically the face of bro-country

If you're not familiar with "bro-country," here's how Vulture's Jody Rosen coined the phrase by describing the genre that's basically synonymous with Aldean: "Music by and of the tatted, gym-toned, party-hearty young American white dude." And a lot of country artists aren't particularly happy to see the new pop rock-infused trend stomp all over country's more traditional roots while making the industry look bad in the process.

In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Alan Jackson said, "What makes me sad today is that I think the real country, real roots-y traditional stuff, may be gone. I don't know if it'll ever be back on mainstream radio. You can't get it played anymore." And Kenny Chesney was even more pointed in Billboard, saying, "Over the last several years, it seems like anytime anybody sings about a woman, she's in cutoff jeans, drinking and on a tailgate — they objectify the hell out of them."

Before a concert in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Jason Aldean bristled at the "bro-country" label when he was interviewed by Penn Live. "It bothers me because I don't feel like it's a compliment. To me, it's sort of a backhanded thing that comes from a very narrow-minded listener and I don't know who came up with that ridiculous term," Aldean complained. "It's not all about trucks and girls and beer and whatever else they think it is."

His song lyrics have been criticized as sexist

Jason Aldean didn't get slapped with the "bro-country" label by accident. In a piece about sexism popping up in the genre's lyrics, American Songwriter pointed to Aldean's 2012 number "Take a Little Ride." Indeed, a lot of his hit songs, also including the number "Johnny Cash," feature lyrics that portray women as simple, doe-eyed girls waiting around on farms for men like Aldean to sweep them away in a pickup truck for, well, you can figure out the rest. And if they're not virginal maidens waiting to be wooed by Aldean, they're hell-raising vixens who live in the woods (don't ask) and evoke Guns N' Roses videos more than country music. And it's landed him in hot water with industry sites that have grown tired of Aldean's exploitation of women.

Here's how Saving Country Music described Aldean's "Old Boots, New Dirt" album: "Now what do we get from Jason Aldean? A simple enumeration of his sexual conquests one after another, with very little respite." The review continues. "'I knew the minute that I picked you up, it was gonna be a wild ride,' the very first song 'Just Gettin' Started' starts off. 'You kissed me like you couldn't get enough. Barely made it out of your drive.'"

That was just the first song. And according to Saving Country Music, the second one went down the same path before things got even more provocative with Aldean's hit single "Burnin' It Down." A song about, you guessed it, another conquest.

Is Jason Aldean a country singing marketing tool?

A quick glance through the writing credits for Jason Aldean's albums will show that the bulk of his musical output is built on singing previously recorded songs from other artists or lyrics written by other songwriters. Which explains how Aldean got slapped with the "bro-country" label along with his best friend, Luke Bryan. Aldean would soon get in an altercation with Zac Brown after Brown criticized Bryan during an interview with a Vancouver radio station. "You can look and see some of the same songwriters on every one of the songs," Brown said. "There's been like 10 number one songs in the last two or three years that were written by the same people and it's the exact same words, just arranged different ways."

While Aldean isn't very interested in songwriting these days, that doesn't mean he never picks up the pen, per Taste of Country. But with someone else writing much of Aldean's music, it makes it hard for him to defend that he's singing authentic tunes about growing up country, especially when Aldean admits himself that his label works hard to manufacture hit singles by doing things like having him rap in a country music song. He also inadvertently revealed to Rolling Stone that he's just chasing trends by recording more "traditional" songs now that bro-country is on the way out.

And hey, to each their own! But if there's one glaring example that Aldean may be a product, it's The Jason Aldean Unwined Candle. We can't exactly imagine Johnny Cash boasting his own brand of scented candle.

Jason Aldean wore blackface for Halloween

Jason Aldean once again found himself in hot water when he wore blackface to dress up as Lil Wayne for Halloween in 2015, per The Guardian. For those of you who don't know, blackface has an extremely racist history, and the best approach for white people is don't do it. Ever. In a move that didn't help with the unfortunate stereotype that country music has a racism problem, Aldean offered an arguably tone-deaf apology that criticized anyone who was rightfully offended more than it atoned for Aldean's actions. 

"In this day and age people are so sensitive that no matter what you do, somebody is going to make a big deal out of it," he told Billboard. "Me doing that had zero malicious intent. ... I get that race is a touchy subject, but not everybody is that way. Media tends to make a big deal out of things. If that was disrespectful to anyone, I by all means apologize. That was never my intention. It never crossed my mind." Yikes.

The country singer sports the Confederate flag on his clothing

Leading up to the blackface incident, it wasn't uncommon to see a Confederate flag at Jason Aldean's concerts, per The Daily Beast. Either the flag itself was flying — which is not unusual for country music artists — or you could buy it on a tour t-shirt. Aldean also had no problem wearing the rebel flag while promoting his Buck Commander hunting line. However, in the aftermath of the tragic murders committed by Dylann Roof against African American churchgoers in Charleston, even country stars like Aldean's closest friend, Luke Bryan, were open to evolving their views on what many consider a symbol of hate that stands for a dark chapter in American history.

Aldean, on the other hand, has refused to comment on the Confederate flag. That's probably understandable, given that Rolling Stone reported that Aldean has been photographed sporting a Confederate flag t-shirt on several occasions in the years after the controversy surrounding the flag led numerous other country artists to disavow it — even leading the group formerly known as the Dixie Chicks to officially change their name to just The Chicks.

Jason Aldean's been in business with the Duck Dynasty family

While Jason Aldean initially preferred to steer clear of discussing controversial topics like the Confederate flag whenever possible, he's ruffled several feathers over the years for becoming an outspoken Donald Trump supporter, often seen rubbing shoulders with the former POTUS since 2017.

But backing up a bit, just when you thought things couldn't get more scandalous for Aldean, he went and started the Buck Commander hunting line with Willie Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" fame after the show was pulled off the air because of the Robertson family's controversial views on homosexuality. They've even gone so far as to falsely link gay marriage to mass murder, but that didn't stop Aldean from going into business with them. In fact, so close was Aldean with the Robertsons that Willie Robertson actually officiated his wedding to second wife Brittany Kerr.

The Robertsons have also reportedly taken a very biblical view on adultery. However, Aldean has seemingly been able to sidestep that particular land mine by playing up his role as a family man while promoting Buck Commander in interviews. Granted, hunting and country music are practically synonymous with each other, but Aldean's relationship with the outspoken Robertson family is still sure to leave a few heads scratching.

He's bragged about not reading books

One of the criticisms of Jason Aldean's popularity, and the rise of bro-country in general, is that he's responsible for the "dumbing down of modern country," as Saving Country Music put it. It's something that he addressed — and didn't exactly deny — during a 2016 interview with The Guardian. "I never want the songs to be too songwriterly or too clever," he said, adding, "The song has to say what it means and it means what it says. If you try to get too tricky with the lyrics, it gets confusing. If it's something I have to go back and listen to over and over again to figure what it says, it's too much work for me and it's too much work for the listener." So in your face, Bob Dylan!

And while his questionable use of blackface, the Confederate flag, and arguably sexist song lyrics definitely haven't made things better in terms of his reputation, Aldean continued to make matters worse by embodying yet another country music stereotype in an interview with People. "I haven't read a book since high school," he said, clearly not realizing that's not the kind of thing one should be bragging about. "I'm a magazine guy. When I'm standing in line at the grocery store, I'm kind of a sucker for buying whatever has a cover I'm interested in. I like reading about actual facts."

We're just going to close our eyes and assume that Aldean subscribes to Monocle, the Economist, and the New Yorker.

Jason Aldean's criticized people for 'running their mouths'

When Jason Aldean broke up his first marriage due to his very public affair with future second wife Brittany Kerr, he was taken to task by both the media and country music fans who found his behavior to be both scandalous and reprehensible. As Aldean told Billboard in 2014, he was getting tired of it. "It has been two years of this s*** — get over it, already!" he complained. "And then when I finally do get enough of it and say something, every newspaper grabs it. And I'm not trying to get in the headlines — I'm just trying to get people to stop running their mouths."

What's strange, though, is that said criticism usually resurfaces in the context of Aldean running his own mouth on any given subject, from whether or not he's "bro-country," when or if Zac Brown is allowed to talk, and when it's OK to care about Aldean's relationship with Kerr (such as when the two post a baby announcement on Instagram).

In fact, there's perhaps an argument to be made that Aldean seems to embody the swaggering country dude who talks over everyone and thinks only his opinions are valid, which might explain why he's had trouble skirting controversy during his career. We hope there's a deeper level to Aldean, but so far his words and actions suggest that what you see is what you get.

The country star's vaccination views were blasted as hypocritical

Back in 2016, Jason Aldean told Rolling Stone that he preferred to keep his political views to himself, as previously mentioned. "That's one subject I do stay away from," he said at the time. "Politics is a no-win."

In addition to his later association with former President Donald Trump, that particular rule apparently went out the window when, a few years later, his wife, Brittany Aldean, posted a photo on Instagram in which one of their sons proudly posed while wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase, "Hidin' from Biden." Shortly after that, the singer took to Instagram to share his own opinion on a news headline about California's governor, Gavin Newsom, mandating that children in the state must be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to attend school. "So let me get this straight! It is no longer our decisions as parents (or free Americans) to make decisions about our kids, Gavin Newsom makes those decisions for us now?? You gotta be kidding me!" Aldean wrote. "People in California should be outraged and people everywhere else better start standing up and speaking out NOW. This is not how America and being free works."

While Aldean's post was met with both support from people who agreed with him and backlash from those who didn't, an article appearing on the MIC website revealed Aldean's hypocrisy by pointing to a notice about a performance at Aldean's Nashville restaurant, Jason Aldean's Kitchen & Rooftop Bar, that required proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all attendees. 

His PR firm quit due to his wife's anti-trans social media posts

Once Jason Aldean and his wife Brittany began sharing their political views, further controversy ensued. That was the case when she posted a video on Instagram, in which she was putting on makeup. "I'd really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase," she wrote in the caption. "I love this girly life."

Her post was instantly criticized by country star Cassadee Pope, who tweeted her surprise that a woman hawking her own beauty brand would want to deliberately alienate any potential transgender customers. Pope's tweet also elicited a scathing response from country singer Maren Morris, who tweeted, "It's so easy to, like, not be a scumbag human? Sell your clip-ins and zip it, Insurrection Barbie." (That latter nickname referenced Rolling Stone's report about Brittany Aldean repeating false conspiracy theories about the attempted insurrection on January 6, 2021.)

That led to some back-and-forth social media remarks from Pope, Morris and Brittany Aldean, who further clarified her opinions about the transgender community — which led Morris to accuse her of being transphobic. When the dust settled, Aldean's PR firm, The GreenRoom, severed its 17-year relationship with Jason Aldean. "We aren't the best people for the gig anymore, but will always be big fans of his music — he is one of the greatest live entertainers in country music," the firm's founder, Tyne Parrish, said in a diplomatic statement to Billboard.

Jason Aldean's controversial single resulted in accusations of racism

In May 2023, Jason Alden released a new single, "Try That In A Small Town," which was immediately hit with backlash over accusations that its lyrics encouraged racism and violence. "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," he sings in one verse. 

It was the song's music video, however, that really generated controversy, thanks to cherry-picked footage of riotous behavior from 2020 Black Lives Matter rallies, and Aldean pictured singing in the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee — the infamous site of the 1927 lynching of Henry Choate, an 18-year-old Black man falsely accused of assaulting a white woman. 

The backlash to the "Try That In A Small Town" video was so severe that CMT yanked it from rotation. Aldean fired back in a statement he shared on Twitter, defending himself against allegations that the song is in favor of lynching. During a subsequent concert appearance, Aldean defended himself further, blaming so-called cancel culture for the brouhaha. "In this day and age, cancel culture is a thing," he complained during a show in Cincinnati, in a video posted online by Global News. "That's something that if people don't like what you say, they try to make sure they can cancel you, which means try to ruin your life, ruin everything."