Rascal Flatts, “Winner at a Losing Game”

by

October 13, 2007

When the music first started, I seriously thought this was the Pointer Sisters kicking off “Slow Hand”, steel guitar be damned. Tailor-made for a “Hot AC remix”, this is pure late seventies/early eighties pop. They do it reasonably well for what it is, but music made with elevators in mind doesn’t resonate for long. Heck, you’re forgetting it while it’s still on.

In a sense, Rascal Flatts are the winners at a losing game right now, being the top-selling country artist in a time when that means selling four million albums instead of eight or ten million. Maybe it’s understandable that they’re dominating at retail with the same style of country that won Lee Greenwood and Janie Fricke CMA trophies. Hey, George Strait, Reba McEntire and The Judds were all breaking through back then. Maybe Rascal Flatts is the last hurrah of pop-country as another new traditionalist movement gathers its bearings?

Grade: C-

Listen: Winner at a Losing Game

Buy: Winner at a Losing Game

Be Sociable, Share!

17 Comments

Category: Single Reviews
Tags:

17 Comments so far

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

  1. Cowboy Blue says:

    I’ve said it before and I repeat myslef, RASCAL FLATTS ARE COUNTRY!!! Always have been, always will be. Traditionalist views, while respected, will never change that. Country has entered a more competative era. If dowloading and crap didn’t exist then no dought these artists would be in the 10 million mark in their first week. Even the popular artists like George Strait can’t reach that high point that once existed. This song is one of the best off their album and is flawless. It sounds a lot more country than their other work which was great to begin with. Country music is about diversity, speaking the mind and having fun. These guys take all three into consideration and in my opinion if you critisize these guys for being pop-country and not Hank-country then you are not a true country fan. if you just generally don’t like their music then fine, but don’t review their songs then because you take away the glory that these guys deserve and many others like them. WHile Josh Turner brings out the tradition in country, Kenny Chesney brings out the tropical, Brad Paisley the new age twang, and George Strait the experience of years in the business, these guys bring to life the new and now. They’re just as good as anyone else.

  2. KevinNo Gravatar says:

    My issue with Rascal Flatts has never been that they make pop-country music, but rather that I don’t think they make it particularly well. I love pop-country, and I’ve given rave reviews lately to Faith Hill’s brand of it. I just think that Flatts are mediocrity defined.

    I don’t think that Flatts would be selling ten million in an earlier era. Perhaps five or six, but not ten. Carrie Underwood might, but not Rascal Flatts.

    I also believe that you can still be a real country fan and criticize them for being pop, though that’s not what I’m doing. I’m criticizing them for making crappy pop.

  3. Cowboy Blue says:

    As I said on the review of “Letters To Me” i respect your views. I suppose I thought to far inside the box when I did these comments. I personally think Rascal Flatts do country pop really well. I figured this song would get a good review on here because it sounds more pure country than anything else they did, but I suppose I thought you all wrong. You did give and A…sort of…to Take Me There so I can’t say Rascal Flatts are completely shunned. And again my comment was more for the people who shun them for their style…the ones who I predicted would comment here. And thank you for giving Carrie the credit she deserves, AP material or not, these singers know what their doing and they do it well. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  4. KevinNo Gravatar says:

    To me, it sounds more pop than most of their songs, even with the steel guitar. I really, seriously thought it was “Slow Hand”, which Conway Twitty had a pop-country hit with anyway in the early eighties.

    I’ve praised Rascal Flatts a few times – “I’m Movin’ On” and “Bless the Broken Road” were both included in my 400 Greatest Contemporary Country Singles feature. I think “Movin’ On” was around #37. I liked “These Days” and “What Hurts the Most” was on my top 50 singles list last year.

    I don’t like to pile on, so while I do review their singles (I try to review every single that’s sent to radio), I took a pass on reviewing their album because I didn’t really like it, and I see no reason for making that point in an extended review. I don’t think I’m the guy to go to for a Rascal Flatts album review, which is why I did that “pick your own grade” technique with “Take Me There.”

    Please don’t think I took any offense at what you wrote on either comment thread. I just wanted to take the opportunity to clarify that I’m not judging any artist on “how country” they are. I don’t think I could possibly care any less about that debate, and I never really have. I just am genuinely curious to see if the historical cycle is repeating itself and we’re moving into another new traditionalist movement like the one we had in the 80′s. That wasn’t even my favorite time period in country music – I like the diversity of the 90′s far more – but I’m just curious to see if it’s actually happening.

  5. Stephen H.No Gravatar says:

    To me, it doesn’t sound “traditional country,” but it sounds less “modern pop” than most of their songs, which to me, at least, is a plus. I like it over any of their last four singles (on back to “Me and My Gang”).

  6. Stephen H.No Gravatar says:

    On a side note, I was just listening to WLJE in Valparaiso — their playlist is far deeper than corporate radio. They played the original “Rollin’ With The Flow,” and really, there isn’t too much different between that song and this one, and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all.

  7. Brittany says:

    ok, so you picked the worst song on the whole cd to rate. The cd is awesome.

  8. Stephen H.No Gravatar says:

    He didn’t “pick the worst song,” he picked the current single.

  9. MargieNo Gravatar says:

    I am not a fan of Rascal Flatts but do like this song better than any they’ve released in along time. I just can’t listen to a whole CD of their music because Gary LeVox sings too nasally for me and especially live……not too good….JMO!!

  10. Mike WhitakerNo Gravatar says:

    Stephen, thank you for pointing out the ironic fact that even a devoted RF fan, which I am running the risk of assuming that Brittany is, found this song to be the weakest on their new cd. Brittany, honey, your boys Rascal Flatts picked this one, and I think they did so to prove a point. I’m gonna call this one like I see it, so get your little tirades ready RF fans… I think that they put this single to radio to prove that no matter how weak and cheap and pathetic a single they send over, radio will play it. So long as country radio caters to the crowd they currently chase, Rascal Flatts will get airplay. They know it. We know it. Prepubescent girls would yell at the top of their lungs if the Flatts boys sang “On Top of Old Smokey”. (As an aside, I think “Smokey” might be too strong of material for these boys to handle.)

    The point is, marketing and promotion have much more to do with their success than actual music. People buy into this idea that they’re supposed to like this crap. They use the power of denial to convince themselves that this “music” is the real deal. Sure, Rascal Flatts has the same appeal of the Backstreet Boys and ‘Nsync in the 90′s. But this is country music. A genre steeped in tradition and with real roots. Pop is just what it claims to be: Popular Music. Country is, or at least was, more than that. It’s been preverted by these neo-pop-choke me with a stick-country acts. It saddens me terribly. To quote Dale Watson (pop-country fans just went, “Who?”) as he said in his song “Country My Ass” -

    “Now don’t get me wrong,
    To each his own,
    I believe.

    But they’ve taken the soul,
    Out of what means a whole lot to me.”

  11. Cowboy Blue says:

    Mike, while I love this song and i think Rascal Flatts are awsome…I actually respect your explination because of a past disapointment i had with another artist. When George Strait released Give it Away i thought it was the crappiest country sing he’d ever sang or done. I couldn’t see how it hit #1 and I thought he just released it to show he could hit #1 with anything. The only objection is that that is probably not true because both Rascal Flatts and George Strait are more respectable than that. They have nothing to prove so i think its more going out on a limb than showing off. but I do see where your coming from and I have noticed it with a lot of huge stars.

    As far as this being the worst song on the album…I think not. I think Bob That head, whiel catchy and fun, is by far the worst.

  12. CREEK says:

    NOT COUNRTY.

  13. JessnaNo Gravatar says:

    OMG… this is their best song since “I’m Movin’ On”. This song is gorgeous and country. Sorry that again that this website seems to be all anti-Rascal Flatts.

  14. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    I certainly hope that Rascal Flatts is the ‘last hurrah’ for pop-country. I think we are long overdue for another neotraditionalist movement. Come on, country radio, play more Easton Corbin!

  15. KNo Gravatar says:

    “When the music first started, I seriously thought this was the Pointer Sisters kicking off “Slow Hand”, steel guitar be damned. Tailor-made for a “Hot AC remix”, this is pure late seventies/early eighties pop. They do it reasonably well for what it is, but music made with elevators in mind doesn’t resonate for long. Heck, you’re forgetting it while it’s still on.”

    Kevin, your review is pretty “forgettable” in itself.” You cite the song as forgettable, carbon copy elevator music, all the while not citing what your specific issues with the song itself, which is essentially what any review is supposed to establish to the reader.

    Where’s the issue? Music, lyrics, vocals? The fact that you think Rascal Flatts makes generic country pop? As a reviewer, isn’t it your job to specifically treat each song as an individual unit, and not let past judgements about an artists’ past work slip in?

    I don’t think you have any against Rascal Flatts, but I’m genuinely confused about your issue with this track. Judging by some of their past work (“Me And My Gang,” “Summer Nights,” “Bob That Head,”), I think has reedeming factors that deserve to be fairly examined, and not tossed aside.

    The lyrics and production are solid, and the song itself is different than a lot of their recent efforts. It seems many artists can follow the pattern of genric and forgettable, but Rascal Flatts get called out even when they shouldn’t be. Reviewers here can find redeemable qualites in far worse singles (“Undo It,” “American Honey” “Makin Me Fall In Love Again,”), and yet there can’t be ANYTHING quality about a song that’s solid by all accounts?

    As for the poster suggesting RF is trying to establish cred with the taraditional country crowd…the argument has no merit from my point of view. As soon as any artist tries to do something different, they’re trying to fit in with a new crowd? I don’t believe they’ve called themselves anything less than a country pop band, therefore ONE song is not going to make a difference.

    Carrie Underwood released “Cowboy Casanova, written with a vetran pop writer; I don’t hear people criticizing her for trying to jump into the pop community, just as RF isn’t trying to prove themselves to another genere. Lady A and Taylor have released pop remixes, Kenny released something that wasn’t from the island. Are they selling themselves out for trying another style also?

  16. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    “Judging by some of their past work (“Me And My Gang,” “Summer Nights,” “Bob That Head,”), I think has reedeming factors that deserve to be fairly examined, and not tossed aside.”

    I’m confused. This review is old, older than the songs that you mentioned as comparisons to it.

    Did “Undo It”, “American Honey” or “Makin’ Me Fall in Love Again” get good reviews here?

    You also said “Carrie Underwood released “Cowboy Casanova, written with a vetran pop writer; I don’t hear people criticizing her for trying to jump into the pop community,…”

    You don’t? I’ve been reading that all over the place.

  17. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    This is actually one of the few RF songs that I like, though I don’t think Kevin’s review is wrong at all.

Leave a Comment




This site is using OpenAvatar based on

Writers

Latest Comments

Most Popular

Worth Reading

View Older Posts