Sunday, July 11, 2010

Reba McEntire, "Turn On the Radio"

(My 50th review!  How cool is that?)

Few people were more thrilled than I was to see Reba make such a successful comeback in the past year.  She has recently enjoyed the longest-running number-one single of her career ("Consider Me Gone"), and followed it up with another Top 10 smash ("I Keep On Lovin' You").  Now it seems she has suddenly become afraid that country radio is about to toss her out for good (Granted, they rarely play new music from ladies who are in their fifties).  Thus, Reba's next career move is to forgo a meaningful set of lyrics, crank up the loudness to ridiculous proportions, essentially sacrifice all artistic merit, and release... this.

The most obvious problem is that "Turn On the Radio" is horrifically over-produced - riddled with obnoxious rock and roll guitar riffs set against a deafening beat.  The first few opening notes were enough to make me cringe.  Reba's voice was made to sing pure country music.  To pull off a modern pop-rock song is simply beyond her ability.

The lyrics begin by chewing out an ex-lover for his two-timing ways, and then the song quickly veers into a girly pop version of Toby Keith's "How Do You Like Me Now?!"  It's basically one big brag over the fact that there's only one way this rotten guy will ever hear from this girl again, and it's when he hears her on the radio.  The lyrics and production are both substandard, and neither one redeems the other.

Country radio seems to favor more youthful artists, so it seems that Reba is combating this by trying to seem younger than she really is. (She even sings about texting and Twitter, which is just silly) The result is a very unconvincing Carrie Underwood impression.  I will acknowledge that part of the reason for Reba's continued success is her willingness to adapt her style to changing times.  But now she's adapting to the point of compromising the quality of her music.

Now, I love me some Reba, but this is just not her.  This song is an embarrassment for a legendary lady who has given us classics like "You Lie" and "Whoever's In New England."  Even her more recent output has been of a far higher standard than this.  I hope she returns to her tried-and-true artistic formula, and begins making truly great music once again.  Then I can just pretend that this song never existed.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)