Single Review: Rascal Flatts, “Why Wait”

Maybe it’s a product of their new home, Big Machine Records, or maybe it’s their way of responding to the monster success of Lady Antebellum – but the Flatts boys are back on their game.

For five years and three albums, we’ve heard only a watered-down brand of Rascal Flatts: their signature tight harmonies have been masked by overblown production, and their typically well-crafted melodies have seemed stale. Their music as of late has generally lacked the spark that turned their early 2000s hits into gems.

Not so with “Why Wait,” a tasteful, vintage-Flatts track marked by an infectious rush of joy. By staying true to what it is –a slice of pop-country, nothing more, nothing less– the song gets everything right, from its effective, building melody to its surprisingly balanced arrangement (Dann Huff: is that you?). Gary LeVox does a particularly skillful job of following the emotional groove of the song, a welcome change from his usual tact of using vocal gymnastics to force emotion into a song.

And for all the untamed fervor that comes with convincing someone to elope, there’s some real meat behind the sentiment of “Why Wait”: “Love don’t need a reason/Baby I don’t see how I could love you any more than I do today/So why wait?” That’s not irrational fluff; that’s honesty, and LeVox sells it with exhilarating conviction.

My favorite thing about the Flatts boys has always been their shameless pride in their artistry. They own it. They embrace it. They enjoy it. And when they’re able to pair that kind of genuineness with a quality record, the result is wholly rewarding.

Written by Neil Thrasher, Tom Shapiro & Jimmy Yeary

Grade: B+

Listen: Why Wait

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24 Comments

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24 Responses to Single Review: Rascal Flatts, “Why Wait”

  1. I was a former fan of Rascal Flatts who fell off the band wagon when their music took a turn for the worse. But now I am very impressed. This is actually GOOD.

  2. grannaNo Gravatar

    I just cannot take Gary LeVox’s high pitched voice. I can’t imagine listening to a whole album of him singing. They maybe nice guys but their singing just doesn’t rock my world.

  3. I see where granna’s coming from. That voice doesn’t reasonate well with everybody. I think Gary’s voice, like Taylor Swift’s, sounds good when it’s singing the right songs, but I really hate it when Gary screams and whines at me. When I first heard, “Unstoppable,” the scream at the beginning of the song was an instant turnoff for me!

  4. TomNo Gravatar

    …put them into some tartan gear (perhaps not skirts) and one might think the bay city rollers are back – well, why not?

  5. WOW… from their last album to this?

  6. BillyNo Gravatar

    They’re clearly disappointed that Lady A has stolen their thunder as go-to pop country group. This song is a leap in the right direction. It sounds like something that would have been found on their Feels Like Today album.

  7. KNo Gravatar

    Excellent review, Tara! You certainly have a way with words. (:

    Although I’ve followed Rascal Flatts through thick and thin, this is a refreshing change for them, and it’s probably the smartest thing they could’ve done at this point in their career.

    Having followed Rascal Flatts through their earlier work until the present, I’d say this change of pace was more of a combo of issues than simply having a sudden change of heart.

    They seem to have lost a significant portion of their core fanbase because they became more pop-heavy, and a lot of the career albums and singles seemed to highlight weakness rather than play up their strengths.

    In addition, Lyric Street was making some horrific single choices, which probably significantly hurt their success.

    I think the rise of Lady Antebellum was probably the push they needed to realize they needed to change things up. They were openly discouraged by the loss of recognition, and I think they might’ve gotten a bit stagnant-rather coasting along on what seemed work than taking risks and improving- and losing some of that benefited them rather than hurt.

    This single does everything right- the lyrics are cute without being cheesy, the production is fresh but not overly pop, and I think this is the strongest show of their harmonies in years.

    It’s interesting to me that almost all reviews seemed to have touched on the strong “meat” and convictions of “Why Wait,” which is something they haven’t been complimented for in years.

    I’d also like to add that it’s my understanding that these changes were not made as a result of the move to Big Machine; I believe the album was finished a few months ago, as they had the original release of the new album in September. The label change only pushed the project back a few months.

    Hopefully this a sign of postive things to come for them, and I have a feeling this will win back a lot of critics and old fans.

    It gets a big thumbs up from me, and I’m curious to see what the rest of what they have in store with “Nothing Like This”

  8. This song would not sound out of place on their debut CD, and I mean that as the highest of compliments. I’ve gotten used to just liking their stuff lately, but hopefully the new set will be as great as this song is.

  9. highwayman3No Gravatar

    This review is so spot on, I can hardly stand it.
    My hope is that some of the Nashville Industry folk got together with Dan Huff and had an intervention enourgaging him to quit the over blown pop production and remind him what country sounds like, and this is what resulted. It would be great if this became a huge hit and others like Martina or Keith Urban, or Reba followed suit and went back to the sound that first made them famous when they were country when country was cool, because lets face it, it’s not cool again to be country in 2010. If Carrie Underwood were to remake that Barbara Mandrell song today, she would have to change the lyrics to ‘I wasn’t country, when country wasn’t cool.’

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  11. TomNo Gravatar

    …”…follow rascal flatts through thick and thin…” must be the easiest diet in the world – which one of them would pass as thin, k? retirement should not be totally omissed from the “smart career moves catalog” of the trio.

  12. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    Great review. I do like this more than any other Rascal Flatts single from the last four years, but still not quite from a general standpoint. I think they’ve put out a few songs in this light vein that are stronger, like “Love You Out Loud”.

  13. KNo Gravatar

    Tom,

    I’ve yet to read a comment from you that actually manages to be on-topic. Why does weight and apperance even matter? They all look healthy to me, and I wouldn’t call any of them overweight.

    Dan,
    Forgive me, but I don’t understand your comment. So you like the single more than any over five years, but you don’t really like it?

    I love “Love You Out Loud,” but I do feel like “Why Wait” has more of a story to it, so I would consider it the stronger cut of the two. I think this is one of the best uptempo songs of their career- compared to cheesy fare like “Bob That Head,” “Me And My Gang” and “Summer Nights,” I would say it’s great.

    The tone and story of the song is reminiscent of “Some Say” from their debut album…

  14. TomNo Gravatar

    …now i’m hurt, k. damed, off-topic again. (i promise i’ll work on it with my therapist as of tomorrow – he’ll be delighted to be able to order the new yacht, next week)

    btw. even burping sounds great compared to “bob that head”.

  15. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    I’d also like to add that it’s my understanding that these changes were not made as a result of the move to Big Machine; I believe the album was finished a few months ago, as they had the original release of the new album in September. The label change only pushed the project back a few months.

    Thanks for that info. I didn’t think that through.

    I love “Love You Out Loud,” but I do feel like “Why Wait” has more of a story to it, so I would consider it the stronger cut of the two.

    The tone and story of the song is reminiscent of “Some Say” from their debut album…

    I enjoy “Love You Out Loud” a tad more than “Why Wait,” but I agree that the latter has a little more of a story to it. I don’t really get the comparison to “Some Say,” but I do love that song.

    It will be very interesting to see how Nothing Like This plays out. A throwback album would make me happy.

  16. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    I like the arrangement of this. Nice to hear them using this sound again. I really liked some of their early singles, especially “I’m Movin’ On” and “These Days.”

    I don’t have a problem with country artists going in a pop direction. I just don’t like it when their records sound too bloated as a result. Never been a big fan of the kitchen sink production approach!

  17. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    “Forgive me, but I don’t understand your comment. So you like the single more than any over five years, but you don’t really like it?”

    No worries. Here’s what I meant: it’s much closer to quality than I think they’ve gotten in a while, but still not quite there for me. I find the song kind of cheesy (“preacher who can hook us up right away”…meh), but the production is a lot more pleasant.

  18. KNo Gravatar

    Tom,

    This time I can’t lie; your response made me laugh out loud. (:

    Tara,

    Glad I could share that info. I recently read that the guys still had one more album to complete under their Lyric Street contract, so they were originally going to finsh that out on a parent Disney label.
    But they weighed the options, and decided they would be better-represented under another Nashvile label.

    Personally, I’m thriled they’ve moved on from Lyric Street, but it’s sort of ironic that this change might bring listeners and fans a much-needed change of pace.
    Just a random bit of info, thought I’d pass it along.

    I think “Love You Out Loud” and “Why Wait are nothing more than enjoyable slices of joyful ear-candy, and I’m willing to settle for that if it’s crafted and sold the right way.

    I think the melody of “Love You Out Loud” is a tad suprior to “Why Wait”, but I pefer the latter’s lyrics.

    I think both “Love You Out Loud” and Why Wait” are nothing more thga

    In any case, I think Gary has always had a knack for selling any type of love song, whether it be a ballad or something upbeat. I know tons of people find his voice to be grating, but I don’t think there’s any denying that he can sell the heck out of a song when given the right material.

    I feel like it’s been a good few albums since we’ve heard them actually sound joyful on a recorded track; they definatly sound that way, and I think that’s part of what helps sell the story to the listener.

    Also, I can see how the “Some Say” comparison could be somewhat unclear. I think the production is a bit similar (notably the prominate use of the fiddle on both tracks, and both are more in the lighter vein of country-pop sounds). And I also thought the sentiments were a bit similar as well. In “Some Say,” they’re trying to sell the story of a relationship that other people don’t believe will last. In “Why Wait, they’re taking the same sort of chance in a relationship, and some of the lines lead me to think it’s not totally accepted by others in the story in this case either.

    Lines like “Why wait another minute for something we shoulda done yesterday,” and “now I love your mama but save us some trouble, and you’re daddy won’t mind if we save him a bundle” tell me that this is a relationship that is defying the typical relationship, and going with an instinct.

    Dan,

    Thanks for clarifying your point. I can see how a lot of people might find the sentiment of the song to be cheesy, but I think that’s part of its charm, as the case with so many country songs.

    If you’re going to sell a song with such a basic sentiment, I think it can be an enjoyable product, if you have a catchy hook, decent lyrics, and the vocalist actually sounds like they’re enjoying singing the song, thus being connected enough to covey that same enjoyment to the listener.

    There’s a fine line between pulling off cheesy fare that’s enjoyable to listen to, and simply singing a cheesy song for the sake of doing. In this case, I think they definatly pulled it off, which is something I’ve been unable to say in terms of other recent singles.

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  20. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    The more I hear this on the radio, the sillier I find it that the guy argues that the bride’s parents will appreciate their daughter randomly eloping. Aren’t parents usually kind of into their kids’ weddings, costs aside? My theory is that the couple has been saving themselves for marriage, and the song captures a moment of particular antsiness for the guy. :p

  21. Charly StuangstabalakNo Gravatar

    I like this song but look at the pic; the boys in the Flatts band are getting a wee bit chubby. They need to lose some weight or people are gonna start making fun of them.

  22. KNo Gravatar

    “The more I hear this on the radio, the sillier I find it that the guy argues that the bride’s parents will appreciate their daughter randomly eloping. Aren’t parents usually kind of into their kids’ weddings, costs aside?”

    True, but the song would sound awkward if it strayed from the upbeat, joyful tone and lyrics if the lines were different.

    Those particular lines have always come off as humourous to me, and the joyful production and breezy feel of “Why Wait” has led me to believe those lyrics were meant to come off as nothing more.

    The lyrics themselves convey that message as well; he’s saying if you marry me we’ll save your mama the trouble (stress) of a wedding and the father will save money. Wouldn’t the narrator be trying to convince his bride of the postive actions of such a move, rather than the negative?

  23. I think Dan’s right. The guy is just trying to grab any argument that he can to convince the girl. It’s silly, but it works in the context, as K said.

    As far as “Love You Out Loud”, that’s a song that I really enjoy of theirs. It takes me back to when two of our best friends were first dating (parallel to when Bill and I started dating) and this song was climbing the charts at the time. It perfectly described how outwardly excited he was to be with her.

  24. KNo Gravatar

    The tracklist for “Nothing Like This” has been released via Amazon:

    1. Why Wait
    2. Easy (Duet/w Natasha Benningfield)
    3. Sunday Afternoon
    4. Play
    5. Nothing Like This
    6. All Night To Get There
    7. Red Camaro
    8. They Try
    9. Summer Young
    10. Tonight Tonight
    11. I Won’t Let Go