Rascal Flatts become country music’s big cats with country-pop bops

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TJ Ruzicka

Listen to all Rascal Flatts have to offer in the playlist below. Like these kinds of stories? Check out other great content in the A&E section of Lancer Spirit Online

Open roads, American-made steel muscle cars and wind blowing in your face.  The only thing you’re missing is the perfect playlist to get you through trip around the land of daisy-dukes and cowboy boots.  You turn on the radio and hear them.  You turn the dial to eleven and let them rock.  And the whole time you’re singing along to some good ol’ country-pop Rascal Flatts.

“Every Day” is a heartfelt piano ballad with a healthy infusion of country.  The song focuses predominantly on the piano to carry the instrumentation but totes the staples of country instruments in a lesser backing role.  The factor that makes this song truly standout is its use of the chorus, however.

While it’s fact that most country songs rely on the chorus to carry the track, none compare to this Rascal Flatts hit.  The chorus features for basically half of the over four-minute run time.  The song uses verses that last all of seven seconds and features a bridge that you’d miss if you blink twice.  The chorus acts as the verse, the bridge, the chorus, and basically the entire song.  This reliance on a chorus would normally be really off-putting to any music listener, but for this song, it somehow works.

“Summer Nights” screams 2009.  This song is that cringey song your parents play when they have the windows down in the Honda Odyssey looking for some summer fun.  Despite this, the song is kind of a guilty pleasure track, because it’s just so damn good.

The four-minute track intros with a concert setting sound and transitions into the first verse with some flaunting vocals and sliding guitar.  The first verse and every other that follows are basically just listings of everything under the summer sun.  Finally, when the chorus starts belting “Summer nights,” you’re already in the summer feeling and are ready to sing along.

“Easy” is sappy country at its finest.  The song is all about letting go of the one who got away and the masking of looking fine to make it seem like you’re over them.  The story behind the song just makes it so relatable to most of us pathetic high school kids.

The song features both male and female lead vocals, playing into the dynamic of regretful former flings trying to let go. The instrumentation is whiny and the entire song is basically played in a slower half-time style, accentuating the tone of the seemingly ever-lasting Romeo-and-Juliet-esque heartbreak that the song is singing about.

“I Won’t Let Go” is an evocative acoustic aubade.  Part of the opening lyrics, “You think you’re lost / But you’re not lost alone / You’re not alone” set the scene for what is about to unfold.  The entire song is an homage to the unbreakable nature of love and everything you’d do for the ones you love.

The chorus, “I will stand by you,” then continuing the rest of everything he’d do for “you,” is a raw and pure message from the heart.  The whole thing is kind of a cheesy run-on of a bunch of mushy stuff, but the composition of the song and all the visceral emotion (regardless of how cheesy) it provides makes it great.

Normally a cover song would never make it into a story about an artist, but “Life Is a Highway” is just too great to leave off the list.  While Rascal Flatts can’t really receive any credit for the writing of the song, they can receive credit for how they enhanced the piece into a masterclass in composition.

The instrumentation is so tight that it doesn’t waste a beat throughout the entire track.  The vocals are in such a high key but are sustained with such ease.  Finally, the thing that makes this track great is that it isn’t type casted.  While it was made for the movie Cars, the track can stand on its own and doesn’t act as filling the Disney movie music niche role.

“Bless the Broken Road” is the ultimate country love song.  Reminiscing on the hills and valleys that lead you to the perfect one for you, the song uses dynamic contour to tell the story through music.

Where the lyrics about the hardships and the “broken road” the instrumentation is stripped down and the vocals are soft. It transitions to a grandiose production when the story is in its “God bless the broken road that lead me straight to you,” chorus.  The song fluctuates through these troughs and peaks musically, paralleling the story being told lyrically.

“Back to Life” is one of Rascal Flatts’ most recent works, being released in 2018 and it proved to all of their fans that they hadn’t lost a step.  The track is the quintessential modern country-pop piece with very literal verses and a chorus that is impossible to not sing along to.

The verses from the very start sing all about the girl at the center of the song with very literal descriptions.  Ranging from, “She got that hey, y’all little southern drawl / That she got from her mama,” to “Likes coffee with her sugar in the morning,” the verses paint the picture of the girl cogently.  Once the, “She puts that beat in my chest / Pounds like a drum / Shakes me like thunder,” chorus goes off, it’s inevitable that you’re going to be singing along.

And as you finish the last Rascal Flatts song you could probably listen to, you drive away down the same open road you started and melt away into the golden sunset light.

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