Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Rascal Flatts – Rewind

In which we discuss the merits of time travel.


Anthony Easton: There has been a habit, as in Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw,” where the name of a country musician is inserted into a song that might not be country enough as a kind of shibboleth. It suggests an interesting kind of status anxiety where the genre is profoundly unstable. I would have never expected Flatts to do it this obviously with a joyless obligation, mostly because they are the closest in musical sound to an MOR blandness that was ubiquitous twenty years ago, and people that bland do not really care if they are identified as country. The sales on Flatts seem fairly steady, they are making the same kind of music, and there is nothing here that stands out, so the random George Strait reference causes the rest of the song to choke.

Brad Shoup: It’s actually kind of weird to hear the Flatts bring George Strait into this; it’s like I did it or something. Alas, their affinity doesn’t extend to Auto Tune, just cred. The real touchstone is late ’90s U2 or something, at least when they’re not gorging on the syllable-crammed, R&B-inflected refrain country can’t get enough of. I wanted more guitar, myself. The way he sings “one more time,” though? Vintage RF-style nerd ecstasy.

Alfred Soto: Way too close to Pablo Cruise. Its only grace notes? The organ and guitar riff.

Patrick St. Michel: Sorry dude, you can’t go back to that kiss, but you did find a way to time travel back to the early 2000s to nab a guitar line that sounds like it came from “Complicated.” Except surrounded by some guy talking about his date.

Megan Harrington: It’s not cool, glamorous, or on trend, but someone had to make music for the a-dolts and here it is. While “the kids” rappel from ever higher heights, their folks are left to rewind filmy memories. This is one for slow dancing to after the kids have gone, not just to bed but to college, and your house belongs to you, finally. Curiously, the slide guitar is so undeniably pretty that I’m willing to ignore these high-waisted denim lyrics — is this a symptom of arena goes country or the Boomers’ forever fascination with non-synthesized string instruments? 

Edward Okulicz: I like how the idea of going backwards is referring not to undoing a mistake or a decision (like say, “Un-break My Heart” or “Erase/Rewind“) but the wish to experience something great for the first time. It’s a trope that could do with a bit more use, though Rascal Flatts certainly stretch it to breaking point after two verses. The 90s alt-rock guitar line and the cheesy mixing of the backing vocals (Mutt Lange would be proud) are corny pleasures, though in a fairly short song I’m craving a lot more of the latter and a lot less of the former.

Katherine St Asaph: The scenario, charitably, is Lydia Davis; uncharitably, About Time. The guitar riff, charitably, is “Lost Boys and Girls Club”; uncharitably, gone too soon. The execution, charitably, is a template country-radio hit with fresher metaphors (she even gets to have dark hair!); uncharitably, a template country-radio hit, damn the metaphors. Today I feel sorta charitable.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Now, yes, this is the expected namby-bamby piece of Nashville gloss from Rascal Flatts with all the pros and cons you’d expect. It’s tuneful and utterly anodyne at the same time. Yet its confusing do-it-again romance narrative hits the conceit of replayed memories right on the head, the imagery of “midnight hair” dropping to a lady’s shoulders ONE! MORE! TIME! to the ladies with bouncy hair falling to the shoulders, Rascal Flatts want to speak on the behalf of men everywhere (this writer included): y’all don’t know what you’re doing to us.

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