Friday, August 14, 2009

Week 1: Donell Reviews Rascal Flatts

Rascal Flatts – a group I had heard before but never really considered listening to that often. I am fascinated by the success of country artists. Country is such a huge genre but if you’re great, you’ll shoot to the top. Rascal Flatts has 6 studio albums (all featured on this list except Melt), 10 #1 country singles, and a Grammy Award (for one of the songs on this list). I am very glad that I have become more familiar with their music thanks to James’s recommendations.

Tid bit: all of their album covers make me laugh. There is something strange about them all to me (especially Unstoppable). There is something uncomfortable about these three men taking pictures together. They’re not a boy band. I don’t know what the solution is, but the covers make me chuckle.

Side note: when I was making the song list for this review I kept writing Me and My HAND instead of GANG. I wonder what I was thinking of.

“What Hurts the Most” Me and My Gang (2006)
Okay, so this song is the jam. When it first started I just got the vibe that I would love it. I think I like it so much because it doesn’t sound too country to me. I am a fan of country, but mostly country-pop. This song (as I’ve done my research) was Rascal Flatts’ crossover into Adult Contemporary. I am very glad that they did that because this song made me consider them a group I would listen to. My favorite parts of the song are the fast patter lyrics at end of the verse (I’m not afraid to cry/every once/in a while…); it slightly reminds me of an r&b style of singing. Also, the drums are reminiscent of that to me as well (if you look up other songs the producer, Dann Huff, has worked on you’ll better understand – “Man in the Mirror”, “All I Want for Christmas is You” “Straight Up”, etc). I also like the musical stop in the middle of the last chorus. That is always a vice I enjoy. I love the driving vibe of the song – the pushing forward. I can see why this was #1 on James’s list.

“My Wish” Me and My Gang (2006)
Not a fan. This is the thing – I teeter GREATLY on the edge when it comes to inspirational songs. Most of them I find very corny and desperate (I was actually just having this conversation with friends about “Heal the World” and “I Believe I Can Fly”). I also got a “ugh” feeling when the God’s grace lyric passed by. I know that most country has heavy spiritual (I won’t say religious) influences, but I just would rather it be in subtext than actual lyrics. This song didn’t have the hook that “WHtM” did, for me. Overall thought, I think I like the style of Me and My Gang is my favorite of their albums.

“Stand” Me and My Gang (2006)
While still on the inspirational side – maybe not inspirational, but personally encouraging – the chorus hooked me and made me like this song. The musical simplicity of the first verse made me wonder where the song was going. There was a little rumble underneath, like the calm before the storm. A little mystery is always good. You can’t “blow your load” (as some would say) from the very beginning. The bridge is KILLER and rocks my world. I love a good bridge and “Stand” definitely has that.

“Life is a Highway” Cars (2006)
My mom loves this song so I love this song too. That’s almost a completely true statement. Both parts of that sentence are true, but not the linkage– they stand alone. I remember my mom watching Rascal Flatts perform this song live on some award show (she LOVED Cars) and brought me into the room to watch it. I’m pretty sure this was the first time I ever saw who they were or saw them perform live. I am now going to take this time to talk about Gary LeVox and his STUPID voice. If you don’t know me, stupid = amazing. This man sings his FACE OFF (another great thing). His vocal range and flexibility is outstanding. He riffs and runs with the best of them. For people that think only black singers riff, they need to listen to LeVox. There were a few songs on this list that he blew me away vocally. I love the “break down” section after the musical break. Who doesn’t love hand claps?

“Here Comes Goodbye” Unstoppable (2009)
Okay I am a sucker for a power ballad. BUT I am on the edge with this one. I think what James said about the chorus was correct. The melody is unexpected and caught me off guard, which I liked. Overall though, I feel like I’ve heard this song before. After hearing “WHtM” (which many say this song is a less good version of) I don’t know if I’ll like anything as much, funny enough. “HCG” is from their most recent album and I feel like they’ll have to take more risks with their music, like they did with “WHtM” to keep me entertained.

“Where You Are” Feels Like Today (2004)
This song was too predictable for my taste. I knew where it was going and was bored by it. I can see how the memory James has associated with it makes it a song he enjoys. I, on the other hand, was not impressed.

“Bless the Broken Road” Feels Like Today (2004)
See, I like this song. I think there is something about the simplicity of it. It has a basic pattern and it does it well. Not too fast, not too slow. And I actually don’t mind the God lyric used in this song. It doesn’t bother me like it does in “MW”. I think I remember this song from when it won the Grammy award. When I played it, it sounded familiar to me and that’s all that came to my mind. This was also the Rascal Flatts CD that my ex-boyfriend owned, so maybe that’s how I heard it. Who knows? Anyway I like this song, semi-kitschy lyrics or not.

“I’m Moving On” Rascal Flatts (2000)
This is my problem with this song. Lord knows I loves me a piano. I kind of wish the whole song was just piano. The beginning tugs at my heartstrings and I wanted the piano to stay. When the other instruments started I yelled “come back piano”! I would have loved for it to be all piano and have the little mandolin part in the middle still be there, but then go back to just piano. I don’t know if that still would qualify it as country, but it would definitely make me like it more. I really would have liked that simplicity.

“Fast Cars and Freedom” Feels Like Today (2004)
I would not like my looks to be compared to fast cars and freedom, so this song does not go on the good side of the list for me. I don’t even really know what that lyric means. Enlighten me, please. This song was too much on the straight country side of the spectrum for me. I am a country-pop kind of guy, remember, and this smelt too much of straw and mud to me (just trying to make some sort of country analogy here). I did like that the song featured the other guys on vocals backing up LeVox towards the end.

“Here” Still Feel Good (2007)
Eh. The two words that come to mind when listening are “good enough”. There’s nothing exciting or different about it. Not stellar but not horrible. Listenable but I probably won’t revisit it that often. This goes in the maybe pile with “HCG” and “IMO”.

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