A prominent Country Music
band known for its slick country-pop production. It was founded in 2000 by lead singer Gary LeVox, his second cousin Jay DeMarcus (bass guitar, piano, keyboards) and Joe Don Rooney (guitar). DeMarcus and LeVox first made themselves known as members of Chely Wright
's road band, meeting Rooney after another musician in the band didn't show up.
Rascal Flatts signed with Disney's newly-formed country music label, Lyric Street Records, in 1999. The band led off its career with a highly successful album that produced four Top 10 hits. Next in the series came Melt
, which produced their first Number One hit, "These Days." The band's momentum has continued through six studio albums and one Greatest Hits Album
for Lyric Street. Following the 2010 closure of Lyric Street, the band was to have transferred to another Disney label, but instead went with the independent Big Machine Records, also home to Taylor Swift
The band's sound is quite divisive in country music: although it was always much closer to pop than most mainstream country, they were generally met with positive reception. Starting with Me and My Gang,
the band's sound has become much more processed and reliant on bombastic guitar and strings, courtesy of Record Producer
Dann Huff. With the switch to Big Machine and release of Nothing Like This
, it seems that the band is finally reverting to its earlier sound even while keeping Huff.
- Rascal Flatts (2000)
- Melt (2002)
- Feels Like Today (2004)
- Me and My Gang (2006)
- Still Feels Good (2007)
- Greatest Hits Volume 1 (2008)
- Unstoppable (2009)
- Nothing Like This (2010)
- Changed (2012)
- As Himself: The band appeared as themselves in an episode of CSI Crime Scene Investigation which centered around DeMarcus suffering amnesia after getting shocked by his bass.
- Boy Band: The first album tried to cast them in this image: none of them played any instruments on it, and the songs were very lightweight and hooky. The sound has sort of stayed, but Rooney and DeMarcus began playing instruments on the second album.
- Careful With That Axe: The Title Scream of "BOB! THAT! HEAD!" It got to the point that some stations actually cut out the intro.
- Common Time: A surprising number of aversions: "I'm Movin' On," "Feels Like Today," "Skin (Sarabeth)", "Every Day", "Easy" (a duet with Natasha Bedingfield) and "Come Wake Me Up" are all in 3/4 or 6/8.
- Determinator: The subject of "Stand".
- Distinct Double Album: Greatest Hits came with a bonus EP of Christmas Songs to coincide with its late-year release.
- Grief Song: "Why," which ponders the suicide of a loved one. Although it is a major Tear Jerker mostly free of the histrionics they're known for, it somehow became the biggest dud of their career. Perhaps the subject matter was a little too heavy...
- Heavy Meta: "Backwards" pokes fun at the Dead Unicorn Tropes of country music by addressing the old joke about playing a country song backwards and getting one's dog, truck, wife, etc. back.
- Hidden Track: "Skin (Sarabeth)" was a hidden track on Feels Like Today. Somehow, radio stations discovered the song and gave it unsolicited airplay while "Fast Cars and Freedom" was climbing the charts, leading to its eventual release as a single after "Fast Cars" peaked.
- In The Style Of:
- "Me and My Gang" is a blatant emulation of Big & Rich's sound.
- The band wrote "Winner at a Losing Game" with the intent of making a song in the style of the Eagles.
- Long Runner Line Up: Same three guys since 1999.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Prayin' For Daylight" sounds very bright and upbeat despite the subject matter about someone reeling from the failure of a relationship.
- Lyrical Shoehorn: "The last sacred blessing and, hey / Feels like today" in "Feels Like Today". Really? That was the best rhyme the writers could come up with?
- Meaningful Name: Gary LeVox is a stage name, which means "The Voice." His real surname is Vernon.
- Melismatic Vocals: A common criticism of LeVox, even now that he's stopped oversinging, is that he doesn't really have the kind of voice suited for melisma.
- Moral Guardians: The music video for "I Melt" struck a few nerves due to a shot of Joe Don Rooney's naked butt.
- New Sound Album: Their second Big Machine album, Changed, seems to be hinting at this. Many fans consider the Big Machine era a return to form after the critically-derided bombast of their last few years at Lyric Street.
- Power Ballad: Most of their songs since "What Hurts the Most".
- The Power of Love: "Unstoppable" has the lyric "Love is unstoppable".
- Record Producer: DeMarcus has produced albums by James Otto (who is his brother-in-law), Chicago, and Kix Brooks.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: Gary's fairly normal-range speaking voice is in stark contrast to his extremely nasal, whiny, high-pitched singing voice.
- Signature Style: They have a tendency toward songs that start off soft and quiet, usually with just Gary LeVox's voice and a piano. Then a soft chorus, medium second verse and chorus where the electric guitars join in, and loud, bombastic bridge/final chorus replete with a string section and lots of Melismatic Vocals. LeVox himself has a tendency to end a lot of songs with a falsetto "ooh" or "yeah".
- Step Up to the Microphone: Gary lets Joe Don and Jay share the lead vocal on "Long Slow Beautiful Dance" and a rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" made for a multi-artist Christmas album. Joe Don and Jay also sang most of "Mary, Did You Know?" by themselves on ABC's CMA Country Christmas in December 2011.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Summer Nights" goes up a half-step twice at the end. By the final chorus, it's too high for LeVox to sing.
- In an odd variant, "Easy" goes up a minor third halfway through the second verse.
- Vocal Evolution: LeVox has always had a high, nasal voice, but for the most part he used it well. Come the Huff era, however, the production became so loud that he had to oversing just to be heard over the wall of sound — his voice would often become a grating, whiny, over-sung squeal that often went off-key. Now that the production has been dialed back down with the move to Big Machine, he's gone back to his original sound for the most part.