The great thing about boy bands is that they have a finite shelf life (until the inevitable reunion tour, anyway). They're typically comprised of four or five great-looking dudes in their teens or twenties who make bad but inoffensive music, and by the time it's creepy for them to be pining for tween tenderness, they disband.
Since Nashville, as we've explained before, is not merely its own musical genre but a parallel universe, it's perfectly permissible for it to have its own boy bands. So while a few purists cringed when the three-piece Rascal Flatts came on the scene (signed by Disney, natch) at the dawn of the 21st Century, most shrugged them off as part of Music City's ever-expanding imprint.
But unlike most boy bands, Rascal Flatts have persevered into middle age, peddling the same mushy ballads designed to get training bras chucked at them onstage.
The music Rascal Flatts makes is not country. The band's lead singer, Gary LeVox, sounds like Brian McKnight, and orchestral instrumentation is all over their tracks. The guys are forever dressed like they're heading to a senior prom, with overstyled hair and tweezed eyebrows to boot. And if you've never seen guitarist Joe Don Rooney eye-fuck a camera, then you are truly missing out on one of the supreme dojos of eye-fuckery.
Occasionally, the Rascals will attempt to validate their presence in the country sphere with a hicked-out scorcher like "Banjo." But whenever they do this, it feels beyond forced; they look to be counting the minutes until they can hop back into their Ferraris or automatically ignite a gas fire in an ultra-modern condo where rose petals strategically cover the bedroom floor and a bottle of prosecco is forever on ice.
Yet the problem with Rascal Flatts isn't simply that they're bad, it's that they singlehandedly validate the constant "Nash-bashing" that comes from Americana and hipster types. A ton of good music comes out of Nashville's studio machine, but as long as Rascal Flatts is permitted to churn out saccharine, overpolished pap, such blanket dismissals will be lent a measure of credibility.