The members of Rascal Flatts didn’t expect an uproar over the brief nudity in their latest music video, “I Melt.”
“I gotta be honest, I think we’re a little surprised that there seems to be this air of controversy,” bassist Jay DeMarcus told CMT News in the band’s first TV interview about the spot. “We just thought it was a great, steamy, sexy video. We didn’t realize that people were gonna be up in arms about it the way they have.”
The video — shot by Nashville directors Robert Deaton and George Flanigen over two days in Miami’s vibrant South Beach area — features a cleverly lit nude woman in the shower and a brief glimpse of guitarist Joe Don Rooney’s bare backside. (Rooney was the one elected to roll around naked with a model because he’s the only unattached member of the group.)
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was uncomfortable a little bit, because I’ve never done that before,” Rooney said. “I just thought, you know, ‘Why not do it? It might be fun. It might be interesting.’”
Since its June 28 debut on CMT, the video has made headlines in national publications like USA Today and has drawn the ire of some viewers and fans, many of whom say it’s inappropriate for family viewing. One fan on CMT.com’s Rascal Flatts message board wrote, “My daughter is 11 years old, and I do have qualms about her watching the video. … I just think these scenes were not needed for such a great song!” Another wrote, “If Joe Don wants to show off his body, then pose for an adult magazine, not something my 7-year-old can see in passing.”
Frontman Gary LeVox, a parent himself, is sympathetic to their protests, but the band says it never meant to offend anyone.
“My daughter’s 3 years old, and I don’t mind if she watches it,” LeVox said. “I mean, she’s so young, it just goes over her head. If you look at pop and hip-hop, R&B and rap, it’s a million and a-half times racier than this little shot that we did for ‘I Melt.’”
The trio says whatever racy content that did make the final cut of the video is just a reflection of the racy content of the song. The single, the third from the band’s latest album, Melt, was written by LeVox, Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley.
“It’s talking about, you know, preparing to make love to your significant other — the person that you’re in love with,” DeMarcus explained. “We’ve always tried to make videos that seem to go hand in hand with the song in some sort of way, and I think the degree of sensuality that is in the video is totally appropriate for what the song is trying to say.”
Not all the response to Rooney’s public mooning has been negative. A barrage of fans on the CMT.com message boards have called the video “sexy,” “hot” and “erotic,” and many have defended the band against the harsh criticism. Wrote one fan, “People who think this [the “I Melt” video] is porn need to get out and see some real porn before they start making judgments. Naked does not equal porn.”
And although Rooney may not have a girlfriend at the moment to protest his bare scenes, he still has a mom. And, yes, she has seen the video.
“She loves it,” Rooney said. “She thought it was done very tastefully.”
Fans might not have expected such a bold move from a band on the Disney-owned record label Lyric Street, but the sexy video has helped propel the single on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. “I Melt” debuted at No. 54 and jumped up nine spots in its second week on the chart.
“Our hope is that people will continue to focus on the song itself, because it is a powerful, powerful song,” DeMarcus said. “I would hate to see the video take away from the merit of the song, because it’s a great song. We’re proud of it.”