Cat Cohen's Anatomy of a Hit a Hit in 2006

What Hurts The Most by Rascal Flatts

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This sad lament of lost love propelled Rascal Flatts to the top of the country charts and launched their career for good.

Song: What Hurts The Most
Artist: Rascal Flatts
Album: Me And My Gang
Songwriter: Jeffrey Steele, Steve Robson
Producer: Dann Huff, Rascal Flatts
B000JBXOC6

Concept
A hurt love song after a romantic breakup.

Lyric
The pain and regret one feels when a love relationship ends. Very straightforward, sincere with good imagery. I can take the rain on the roof of this empty house, that don't bother me I can take a few tears now and then and just let them out I'm not afraid to cry every once in a while Even though going on with you gone still upsets me There are days every now and again I pretend I'm ok, but that's not what gets me.

Groove
A full straight 16th note feel in the track accompanies more rhythmic melodic riffs which give this sad ballad a lot more push and intensity than most tearful recordings

Melody
Great melodic structure throughout with lots of leaps and distinctive turns and twists. Each section has its own hooks with the pre-chorus more driving and intense while the chorus is more legato and drawn out. The use of dissonant tones that resolve gives the song a modern sound as well as accentuate the emotional hurt in the lyrics.

Harmony
Simple minor diatonic triads with a few color tones and 7ths added. Though the chords are conventional, their pacing or harmonic rhythm makes for some surprises including a few deceptive cadences

Structure
Easy to follow

Signature
Mournful fiddle line in the intro sets the mood perfectly.

Production
Solid groove, flawless production, great balance between vocals and instruments. A blend of both traditional and modern country styles with background banjo and fiddle sounds over a modern rock track.

Performance
Simple honest sad song storytelling.

Predicted Longevity
This song is a classic that will last a long time. A cover from the original songwriters, it already has since been covered by a few more artists. With its emotive yet understated vocal performance and fresh musical sounds this recording has both repetition and surprise. A Grammy nominee at the least, most likely a winner in country if not also in pop.

Album Cover: Me And My Gang

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