2020 wasn’t a great year. For country fans, it was even worse than for the rest of us. On January 7, 2020, Rascal Flatts announced they’d be disbanding at the end of a farewell tour. If that wasn’t bad enough, the farewell tour got indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic. Still, while we might not be getting any more albums, we do have 21 years of great music to reflect on. In tribute to one of the most influential country acts of the 21st century, here’s our take on the 10 best Rascal Flatts songs of all time.
10. Fast Cars and Freedom
They might be best known for their big ballads, but when Rascal Flatts want to rock, they’ve got the goods to do it. Fast Cars and Freedom is the kind of up-tempo number designed to get people on their feet. It’s big and it’s gutsy, with an exuberant energy that, over 16 years after its first release, still gets our toes tapping.
9. I Like The Sound of That
The 2012 album Changed marked the beginning of a downturn in the band’s commercial fortunes. It was their first album not to score a Top 40 single, their first not to go platinum, and their last to go gold. But the country music band still had plenty of tricks up their collective sleeve. In 2015, they released an absolute belter, the chart-topping I Like The Sound of That. If anyone had dared suggest the band’s glory days were behind them, this was the song that proved otherwise.
8. Prayin’ for Daylight
As soundslikenashville.com writes, Rascal Flatts’ debut single, Prayin’ for Daylight, features the band’s signature move of taking a heavy subject and turning it into something positive. Remarkably, it was the first song they ever cut as a band, but their outstanding vocal harmonies and lush arrangments sound the work of a group that had been performing together for years. This was the track that started it all; 21 years after its original release, it still sounds as fresh as ever.
In 2012, Rascal Flatts switched up their usual sound with the Christan-themed ballad Changed. Written by Neil Thrasher about his daughter’s baptism, the boys give an earnest, restrained performance that suits the subject matter perfectly. Like the rest of the songs taken from the album that bears its name, it didn’t manage to break the Top 40, but its sumptuous harmonies and lilting melodies have made it a firm fan favorite.
Described by Billboard as one of the more traditional sounding hits from the Flatts’ catalog, Mayberry is a gentle, breezy ode to the joys of escaping the rat race and living life the way it used to be. It’s an easy-going dream, with a standout banjo and some typically gorgeous vocals. Released in December 2003 as the final single from the 2002 album Melt, it became the band’s second number-one single.
According to Country Now, the group released Rewind with the hope that the tune would “bridge the gap between familiar Rascal Flatts and a new era of Rascal Flatts.” They succeded. A mid-tempo ballad with an irresistible chorus, it’s delightfully fresh, but with enough nods to their earlier work to keep fans of their signature sound happy.
4. What Hurts the Most
Rascal Flatts always had a knack for taking a little-known song from someone else, applying a bit of TLC, and turning it into a smash. In 2006, they were up to their old tricks with country singer Mark Wills’ What Hurts the Most. Before they got their hands on the song, it was practically unknown. Once they’d worked their magic, you couldn’t turn on a country radio station without hearing it. It gave the band their fifth No.1, along with two new Grammy nominations to add to their collection.
3. Bless the Broken Road
In 1994, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded a version of the Marcus Hummon, Bobby Boyd and Jeff Hanna penned composition, Bless the Broken Road, for their album, Acoustic. A year later, Hummon gave us his interpretation on his 1995 album, All in Good Time. Since then, no end of artists have given it a shot, but none have done it quite so successfully as Rascal Flatts. Released in November 2004 from their Feels Like Today album, their soulful version spent five weeks at number one on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts before going on to win a Grammy Award for Best Country Song.
2. These Days
Even if you’re only aware vaguely aware of Rascal Flatts, there’s a very good chance you’ll know These Days. The most instantly recognizable of all their singles, it dominated the airways on its release in 2002, becoming the first of the band’s releases to hit the No.1 position. Written by Jeffrey Steel, Danny Wells, and Steve Robson, the song tells the tale of a man who runs into an ex and realizes that, despite the passing of the years, his feelings for her are still as strong as ever. The romance of the song clearly carried through to the set of the music video, which was where Jay DeMarcus first caught the eye of Allison Alderson (who’d actually been bought in to play Jay DeMarcus’s love interest). They’ve been together ever since.
1. I’m Movin’ On
From pain can come joy. Or, if not joy, then at least inspiration. I’m Movin’ On has certainly provided inspiration to its millions of fans. The fourth and final single from the band’s self-titled debut album takes a painful situation and uses it as a turning point. We don’t know what the painful situation is in the band’s case, but we’ve all had enough of our own to relate. Reflective and deeply touching, it’s resonated with more listeners than almost any other song in Rascal Flatts’ impressive back catalog. After storming to number 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in October 2001, it ended the year by winning Song of the Year at the 38th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.