Rascal Flatts — “Banjo”
If 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.
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