Rascal Flatts — “Banjo”

Sam Gazdziak | February 21st, 2012

rascalflattsIf you’re looking for a good time, so the song says, just get out of the city and travel far enough into the country until you start to hear banjo music. There, you’ll find yourself at peace in the country and free from stress. Of course, that advice didn’t work so well for the guys in Deliverance, so you’re on your own if you decide to take vacation advice from Rascal Flatts.

This is not to make light of the banjo, which is enjoying a burst of popularity. Naturally, it’s a staple of the bluegrass scene, which is as vital and as diverse as it’s ever been. It’s also gaining some mainstream use as well, thanks to folk/rock/roots acts like Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes. In country music, though, it’s pretty much Keith Urban’s occasional use and Taylor Swift bringing her six-string banjo to the Grammys – not that you could actually hear it.

That’s not the problem with Rascal Flatts’ new single, “Banjo.” You can definitely hear the title instrument – for the first 30 seconds or so. After that, it’s buried by the typical bombast that comes with a Flatts good-time party song. If the title led you to think you were going to hear anything remotely traditional or folksy, you really should have known better. The band can break out of its slick shell on occasion, but this is right in its comfort zone, a rock/pop confection that’s as rootsy as a strip mall.

Compared to Rascal Flatts’ other party anthems, “Banjo” isn’t as tacky as “Bob That Head,” nor does it feature anything as vocally embarrassing as Gary LeVox trying to say “sex-ay” like he did in “Summer Nights.” So as far as the band’s bad songs are concerned, this is one of the better ones, but there’s still very little to redeem it. It’s the ultimate throwaway tune, completely unmemorable except for the brief moments when the banjo is allowed to rise over the din.

Thumbs Down

  1. Grizzly Adam
    February 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Rascal Flatts singing a song about the banjo? So I guess George Jones will be rapping about hanging out in Compton with his homie Ice T on the next record…

  2. Dave W.
    March 8, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I like the song but like you say – the title is Banjo but it doesn’t really make use of the instrument enough to showcase it. If Brad Paisley did a song called Banjo, you can bet we’d hear it throughout.

Tagged In This Article

// //

Current Discussion

  • bob: Enjoyed the Himes article on classic baseball songs. Thanks. Himes also mentioned some books. To those he noted I would …
  • luckyoldsun: Well it probably wasn't Larry Gatlin.
  • A.B.: Anyone else think Marty Stuart might be part of Lakehouse Holdings that bought the Johnny Cash/Barry Gibb property?
  • David Cantwell: Thanks, Andrew. It almost seems inevitable that the greatest singers--Sinatra and George Jones, say--just don't sing so well at the …
  • Andrew: Very well put. I don't remember the last time an album gave me chills right from the opening note quite …
  • TX Music Jim: All valid choices. I will forever hold out the hope that Gram Parsons, Jerry Jeff Walker and Gary Stewart will …
  • Leeann Ward: Oops...the link: http://www.engine145.com/summer-lovin-ronnie-milsap-looks-back-new-album/
  • Leeann Ward: Yes, great choices for inductees! In Milsap's case, I guess if you say it to Juli Thanki, it will happen!:): Do …
  • Paul W Dennis: Delighted to see "The Voice With A Heart" being inducted - he is my all-time favorite bluegrass vocalist. Hank Cochran …
  • luckyoldsun: I don't know what exactly makes one a national treasure, but I'd give that appellation to Mac Wiseman before the …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • raypricebeautyis
  • rodneycrowelltarpapersky
  • rhondavincentonlyme
  • mandybgibson
  • paulburchfevers
  • kelliepicklerwomaniam
  • ronblockwalkingsong
  • lindiortegatinstar