Country music produces nothing new

By Acacia DiCiaccio

Nov. 16 was a big day for the country music world this year. The popular group Rascal Flatts and famous Australian crooner Keith Urban both released albums on this day.

“Nothing Like This” is Rascal Flatts’ sixth album since the group formed in 1999. Each of its previous albums has hit platinum. Alongside all of the awards the group has won, one can easily see its heavy influence on the popular country music of the last decade. 

While Rascal Flatts is known for its catchy hits which appeal to listeners of all ages, one may wonder when the group will start doing something a little different. “Nothing Like This” is exactly the opposite of breaking away from the mold. Interestingly, Rascal Flatts chose to record a song with pop singer Natasha Bedingfield. Unfortunately, even that track is reminiscent of the song “Picture” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock. “Nothing Like This” seems to be stuck on the mantra of “what has worked in the past will work in the future.” Maybe a more appropriate title for the release would have been “Everything Like This.”

While the Rascal Flatts album deals with the same motifs as previous records, including romance, heartbreak and summer, the theme of Urban’s new release, “Get Closer,” is a consistent stream of love. Urban seems happy in his marriage to actress Nicole Kidman, giving her a specific shoutout in the single “Put You In a Song,” where he references her “pretty blue eyes” and “the way [her] hair shimmers in the light.”

Even songs about heartbreak such as “All For You”  contain a bit of hope and encouragement. The brief eight-track album is cute, but Urban also shies away from a departure from his normal songwriting style. The only bit of the album which differs from any of his other music is the opening beat to “Georgia Woods,” which sounds more like the start to a slow hip-hop song. This attempt at crossing over to pop just feels inappropriate considering the utterly stereotypical country title and theme.

As an artist, Urban has grown a lot since his first album’s release in 1991. “Get Closer” is his eighth work, but it feels more like a plateau than a stepping-stone in his musical career. “Get Closer” can also be purchased through Target as a deluxe edition, which features some live songs and a few that did not make it on the final cut. The otherwise brief album appears to be a teaser to get listeners to remember that Target still sells CDs. 

Aside from the first tracks of both Flatts’ and Urban’s albums, both of which happen to be the catchy radio singles, none of the other songs on these albums stand out as having hit potential. For dedicated fans of either Rascal Flatts or Keith Urban, these albums should be nice, safe additions to their catalogues. The music will be more or less what fans expect, except maybe the length of Urban’s record.

For those who truly recognize the talent and potential of these two artists, the music may be a bit of a disappointment when they realize how homogeneous these albums are relative to the rest of the artists’ collections. Better luck next time.

Acacia DiCiaccio can be reached at [email protected]