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Awards: New vocal group of the year, Academy of Country Music, 2001; vocal group of the year, Country Music Association, 2003; vocal group of the year, Academy of Country Music, 2003, 20; vocal group of the year, Country Music Association, 2004; vocal group of the year, Academy of Country Music, 2004; breakthrough act, Billboard Touring Awards, 2005; vocal group of the year, Country Music Association, 2005; vocal group of the year, Academy of Country Music, 2005; country artist of the year, Billboard , 2005; Grammy Award for country song of the year, Recording Academy, for "Bless the Broken Road," 2006.In April of 2006, Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly declared that Rascal Flatts was "America's most popular band." The young country music trio certainly had the record sales to claim that title.Rascal Flatts became tagged as a country version of a boy band, a young pop group singing light songs for women."Rascal Flatts first hit in the spring of 2000, just as pop's boy-band craze started to wane—even though some country labels were still trying to cash in on the fad," explained Brian Mansfield of USA Today ."Rascal Flatts—with clean-cut looks, showy vocals and pop-influenced arrangements—quickly found fans, as well as detractors willing to lump them with the boy-band knockoffs." For some country fans, the lead singer's voice may have been part of the problem."Le Vox's singing style didn't hark back to any traditional country archetypes," Mansfield wrote.When De Marcus was not on the road, he, Le Vox and a guitarist performed together regularly at a Nashville country-music club called the Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar.
That loyalty may have attracted the attention of one of their heroes.The band promoted it by headlining a tour sponsored by CMT. The band's steamy video for another single, "I Melt," attracted notoriety and publicity, since it included a brief shot of Rooney nude from behind and suggestive shots of a female model playing his girlfriend.(CMT blurred out Rooney's buttocks when it showed the video during the day.) "We wanted to get the best, classy interpretation of the song that we could possibly do," De Marcus told Mansfield of USA Today . It's about preparing to love on your significant other." Another successful strategy the band pursued was touring as an opening act for country stars such as Brooks & Dunn in 2002, Toby Keith in 2003, and Kenny Chesney in 2004, even after they proved capable of headlining tours on their own, and after the fall 2002 CMT tour sold out in several cities. Le Vox, the lead vocalist, mentions classic country singer George Jones as well as soul singer Stevie Wonder, while Rooney, the guitarist, cites both country guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins and rock guitarists Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.In an unusual move, the band has even released videos for album tracks that were never released as singles, as a way to boost album sales.Melt , Rascal Flatts' second album, was released in 2002. A reviewer for Billboard pronounced Melt better than the band's debut, thanks to stronger song quality, good arrangements and impressive harmonies.