Rascal Flatts dedicated a whole song to the banjo.
The banjo is commonly associated with Dixieland jazz, bluegrass, and folk music, but it’s been used in other genres, including pop and rock, for many years. From Led Zeppelin’s “Gallows Pole” and The Eagles’ “Take It Easy” to more recent songs, the banjo has been hitting the airwaves.
These are some of the modern artists and bands who use the banjo:
- Matchbox Twenty. This alternative rock band included the banjo in their hit song “Unwell.” The 2003 song about loneliness was one of the most-played songs of that year in the US, and the video for it reached number one on VH1’s Top 40 Videos of 2003.
- Taylor Swift. The country/pop star used a banjo to come up with the catchy tune “Jump Then Fall,” which appeared on her re-release of the album “Fearless.” The plucky banjo sound fits well with the song’s upbeat, optimistic lyrics about falling head over heels in love.
- Rascal Flatts. This country pop/rock band devoted an entire song to the banjo, instead of just using it to play music on. “Banjo” was the band’s first single from their 2012 album “Changed.”
- Nelly Furtado. Banjos and soccer don’t normally go together, but pop star Furtado managed to combine them with her hit song “Forca.” The song, which is from her album “Folklore,” features the banjoist Bela Fleck and ended up being used as the 2004 European Football Championship anthem.
In addition to these modern artists and bands who use the banjo, the metal genre has also been experimenting with this versatile instrument. For example, Steve’n’Seagulls has managed to replace electric guitars with the banjo on classic metal songs, including “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, “Holy Diver” by Dio and “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden.
These examples illustrate how musicians can use the banjo in a wide range of genres. Once you’ve learned how to play it, you’ll be able to come up with your own take on this instrument, too.