Single Review: Reba McEntire, “Turn On the Radio”

How to review this new Reba McEntire single?

I could…

A.  Write something short and not particularly clever:

Turn off the radio!

B.  Moan that this is a record beneath the talents of a future/should already be present Country Music Hall of Famer:

Why is the great voice that brought us “You Lie” and “Somebody Should Leave” singing this?

C.  Wax philosophical about the song representing all that’s wrong with what happens when you do turn on the radio these days:

Sorry. It’s too hot. I don’t have the energy.

I’ll just keep listening to “Consider Me Gone” until she puts out something better.

Grade: D

Listen: Turn On the Radio


  1. I agree it’s beneath Reba’s talent, and this is coming from a huge Reba fan. However, i can’t get the song outta my head. It’s surprisingly catchy. But i do hope the next single/album is of much higher quality.

  2. I have every reba album since the first in 1977 and this is the worste song of hers ever. I hate carrie underwood and this sounds way to much like her. God help us if the queen of country is putting out crap like this.

  3. What is wrong with you?!! this is a great song, very uplifting, fun summer song… We’re in the year 2010, stop living in the past… I’m 18 and have all her albums, and I mean ALL… and i’ve never been dissappointed!!! so leave her alone, if she wants to sing this kinda song, and sounds great, let it be…

  4. I’ve been a Reba fan for years, and I absolutely love this song. She sounds powerful and refreshing. Great job, Reba!!!!!!

  5. Reba latest album showed her grandios and long overdue return to the top. Not only was “Strange” a great kick off single and “Consider Me Gone” was rightfully Reba’s 34th #1. This new song is perfect for the Summer and with Reba’s spin, this is her just showing Underwood how it should sound…

  6. Reba’s not showing Underwood how her music should sound; she’s co-opting Underwood (and Swift) and trying to make it her own sound.

    I remember when “Guys Do It All The Time” was a hit, and Reba said she wished she could’ve gotten that song first because she’d love to sing it every night.

    The problem is that Reba is not in her twenties and she can’t navigate a modern pop/rock song to save her life. Her voice isn’t right for it.

    One of my biggest pet peeves with today’s country music is the “younger is better” mentality. What is the point of gaining all that wisdom and perspective with time if you’re going to put out records that don’t reflect what you’ve learned along the way? Forever 21 might be a decent place to buy clothes, but it’s not a good philosophy for country music.

  7. I’m 25 and not living in the past, I have been a reba fan since I was 5 and this is the only time I have had a bad thing to say about one of her songs. My friends can’t believe I have anything negative to say bout a Reba song, but compared to, lets say, the new Sunny Sweeny song this sucks.

  8. @Tara: I’m afraid you are right. I personally liked “Strange.”

    I am also a BIG BIG Reba McEntire, and I just can’t help but wonder why release this, rather than pick one of the other tracks off her Keep On Lovin’ You, it is a disapointment, considering she had a few more good tracks off the album. AND considering they had a poll on her site asking for the opinion of what should be Reba’s next single off KOLY. SIGH

    As for the song, I don’t think Reba really pulls off up-tempo songs like this, “Mountain,” and “Strange” very well, in each, the music seems to over power her voice, but in songs like “Take It Back” and “The Fear Of Being Alone” she does fantastic. I hope this is NOT a sign of the new music on her newest album. Until then, I’m going back to “Consider Me Gone” and her What If It’s You album. GRADE: D

    (Could not agree more with the review).

    Anyone noticed that after her tour with Kelly Clarkson (and I like Kelly’s music), Reba’s music has become less and less like the stuff she was recording in the early 2000s? It’s the game of the music business, and it sucks.

  9. I also don’t hate it, but I won’t download it or seek out another listen. It’s a pure piece of Nashvile grade plastic designed to fill radio for 4-6 months, she knows what’s popular today and what she has to do to get a hit, she’s a big fan of Rascal Flatts and dug their last disc, why not try and get in on that success? At this point, it wouldn’t suprise me one bit if she did a song featuring T.I. on her upcoming album, she wants to stay young and current. Lets see how long she can ride this out.

    On a side note, one of my pet peeves is there are certain words that you just can’t sing. How can she sing the word ‘Twitter?’ I remember Trisha Yearwood in an interview with the same concerns saying, ‘how can people sing the word cell phone?’ Its a minor thing but for me it sticks out like a sore thumb.

    I dont have much hope this next album will be anything spectacular, But I do have hope when radio cuts ties with her she will go back to her roots and releaize its OK to sing country and have a wrinkle or two. People will still love ya.

  10. Personally, I was hoping “I’ll Have What She’s Having” would be the next single. A little Western Swing would be fine in the summertime. I agree she’s leaving some good singles on KOLY. She once said she had regrets about doing that on some of her older albums, but she’s doing it again. As for the new single, it’s catchy as hell, and should be a hit. That’s what she wants. It’s the fight to stay relevant, and it ain’t pretty.

  11. I was hoping she was going to release “Maggie Creek Road” off of “Keep On Loving You.” The song has the potential to be another “Fancy” or “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia.” I understand the need to get the new song out to radio before the new album comes out in the fall though, but I am sorry that this song has to be the one. If it nets Reba another #1 which it just might, it comes at a high price of her selling out her style of music to the cheap crap like Underwood’s and Rascal Flatts’ cluttering the “country” airwaves these days. :(

  12. I guess I don’t “hate” it. It was catchy, but the production was a bit heavy for my taste. I did not expect Reba to become involved in the battle of who can make the loudest records. I might like the song more after a few further listens, but right now I just miss the neotraditional version of Reba.

  13. Oh, how it should’ve been “Maggie Creek Road.” Seriously, using “twitter” as a song lyric? I didn’t even have to listen to know this was going to be awful.

    I have never in my life been disappointed with Reba (not even with “Starting Over Again” and her dreadful cover of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”). But this? This is deplorable.

  14. Just goes to show you who the new Queen of Country is (Underwood).

    That said, while CC is nowhere near Carrie’s best, this song makes it look like a masterpiece.

    And I disagree with whoever said this song “shows” Carrie how to sing it; Carrie conveys the grit and fire in CC much better than Reba here.

  15. This is pretty bad, but I’m used to not expecting too much from Reba anyway. She has one of the best voices in country music, and occasionally finds great songs for it, but I feel like it’s always a crapshoot with her.

  16. Matt,

    Regardless of my intense (INTENSE!) hatred for Underwood’s music, calling someone the Queen of Country after three albums is ridiculous.

  17. I LOVE IT! It’s a kick back, open the ragtop, and crank up the volume, summer song! I have all of Reba’s cds too. I’ve never been disappointed. It’s so cool we have cds and we all can replay over and over the songs we love of her’s. Have a great summer…

  18. It may be a “fun” song for summer to some, but to me, it’s a somewhat sad attempt by a gifted, legendary singer to compete with those she need not compete with.

  19. Just shows how subjective all the arts are, including music. I think this is an enormously fun record, with a sensational Reba vocal. It will definitely be a big hit, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it go to #1. What’s great about Reba is that she sings all kinds of music, always has…always will. I do think it’s funny that people keep saying the song and its production are influenced by Carrie Underwood. As a fan who goes WAY back, I’ll just point out that “Cowboy Casanova” and “Undo It” were influenced by REBA!

  20. Quoting Kevin:

    “One of my biggest pet peeves with today’s country music is the “younger is better” mentality. What is the point of gaining all that wisdom and perspective with time if you’re going to put out records that don’t reflect what you’ve learned along the way? Forever 21 might be a decent place to buy clothes, but it’s not a good philosophy for country music.”


    Excellent points..I’d just like to add that it’s always sad when a veteran waves the white flag of surrender in an attempt to stay relevant.

    The whole thing reminds me of the mid-life crisis Mom who starts to dress like her teen-age daughter with the hopes of being considered “cool”. The results are often anything but…

  21. Tom, I think Loretta Lynn started the whole genre of fed up/don’t mess with me songs by strong women, and Reba brought them to a new level in the 90s with Take it Back, Why Haven’t I Heard from You, etc. — songs, it’s worth noting, that drew her a lot of flak for being “too pop”. A lot of Carrie’s songs seem like logical extensions of that tradition to me. And Steve, I just don’t agree that Reba is waving any kind of flag here. I honestly think she’s just continuing to be musically diverse and commercially viable. What’s wrong with that?

  22. From my perspective, Reba was never a significant part of the strong women movement in country music. Far from being in the tradition of Loretta Lynn, Reba was the last of the great heartbreak queens like Kitty Wells and Tammy Wynette.

    Songs in that tradition made her a superstar. How many times was she waiting patiently while her man chose between her and his mistress? “Whoever’s in New England.” “It’s Your Call.” “Does He Love You.” “Rumor Has It.”

    I suppose she showed more grit with “Take it Back”, but “Why Haven’t I Heard From You” is a four minute song about waiting around for a phone call.

    Reba’s an amazing singer and live performer, but her work from the mid-nineties on hasn’t resonated as much because she’s gone the strong woman route now and too many other female artists do that better. They don’t even seem to write those great heartbreak/doormat songs anymore.

    Where she does succeed in recent years – “The Fear of Being Alone”, “Consider Me Gone”, “He Gets That From Me” – is when she brings her maturity and depth of experience to the table. These are songs that cannot be sung convincingly by a 20 year old.

    Songs like “Turn On the Radio” are the musical equivalent of casting Meryl Streep on Degrassi Junior High. Sure, she’s without peer as an actress, but she’d be completely wrong for the part.

  23. I am a long time fan and I agree that this song is just not that good. It’s too rock and not enough Western. The melody has no zest but it tries to. Especially in the 80’s and into the mid-90’s Reba’s music was so melodic which is what I think attracted me to Reba’s voice. I think the music became worse after she released “I’d Rather Ride Around With You.”

  24. Kevin, I appreciate your perspective (and love the image of Meryl on Degrassi Junior High!). You’re certainly correct that what first made Reba a superstar were the classic weepies. But for every Whoever’s in New England or What Am I Gonna Do About You, there was a Little Rock or Can’t Even Get the Blues. In the late 60s/early 70s, Loretta Lynn sang the strong women songs and Tammy Wynette sang the poor put-upon women songs. By the 80s, Reba was doing both…and having great success with both. She was one of the first female artists to earn that freedom of diversity, and others since her have benefitted from that freedom. I think it’s fine if you and other people don’t like her new single. I guess what I don’t understand is why it’s perceived by some of you as her selling out or trying to be something she’s not. To me, she’s doing what she’s always done — experimenting with different styles.

  25. You guys should trust Reba in choosing a song, any song, if you guys are real fans, you guys would trust her and her legacy in picking songs close to her heart.

    Personally, I think it reflects her current mood for the summer. Fun, energetic and she might be heading for a busy summer recording for the new album and she’s telling us fans the only way to hear her is to “turn on the radio”.

    She twitts, so what’s wrong with singing about that as part of the lyrics? She feels it.

    Despite the slightly frivolous title. I trust Reba in putting out the best and I am beginning to like it more and more with the tune in my head.

  26. Not much left to say here. But I did very much agree with the following:

    Crab: “As a fan who goes WAY back, I’ll just point out that “Cowboy Casanova” and “Undo It” were influenced by REBA!”

    I agree totally. The concept – and the production noise behind it – aren’t anything novel to my ears. And I made a very similar comment over at The 9513.

    Leeann: “I don’t hate it. But it’s beneath Reba’s talent, most definitely.”

    Again, I agree totally.

    Kevin: “Forever 21 might be a decent place to buy clothes, but it’s not a good philosophy for country music.”

    My very favorite sound bite I’ve read in a while.

  27. Crab,

    I’m having trouble seeing Reba as balancing strong woman and victim songs in the eighties at all, let alone her being a pioneer in that. Pretty much every female country artist did a mixture of the two, including Tammy herself, but like Tammy, Reba’s selections mostly played the passive victim.

    I think the way that she ran her career and lived her life publicly sent the strong woman message. Same is true for Rosanne Cash and Tanya Tucker, who also largely played the victims on record.

    Reba was an important part of the neotraditionalist movement, and a huge pioneer in the role of music video and stage productions in country music. I just don’t see her as being a major figure in the “strong woman” point of view that came to dominate the genre in the mid-nineties.

    I think that the sea change happened because of Shania Twain, but the bridge from Reba & Co to Shania was provided by K.T. Oslin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the other late 80’s/early 90’s women who came as much from the folk and seventies country-rock tradition as they did from the country tradition.

    As far as the production of the song goes, I don’t care that she’d doing something much closer to pop/rock than country. I just don’t think she’s doing it particularly well. “Cowboy Casanova” is a good comparison to make to this record. I love “Undo It”, but “Casanova” doesn’t get the pop ingredients quite right. However, it’s age-appropriate for Underwood and she doesn’t sound awkward and out of place on her own record, which are two additional flaws of the Reba record that make it completely fall apart, from my perspective at least.

  28. …like crab, reba’s “why haven’t i heard…” immediately came to mind, when i heard this new song of hers as well as carrie underwood’s “cowboy casanova”. i’m sure that carrie underwood, being the enterainer-talent that she is, allows herself being influenced by one of the, arguably, biggest entertainers of the genre, every now and then. on the other hand, reba is business-savvy enough not to dismiss current trends in her industry without giving it a try and see, whether it might fit. in this case, i also feel that it is a slight misfit, mostly for the same reasons kevin pointed out.

    then again, if reba sang the ingredients list of a cornflakes box to me, chances are that i even might enjoy that – one way or another.

  29. HA HA!!!!

    I love all you know it alls, who are name dropping, and think you know everything about country music females in the past 40 years.

    I love how you fail to mention that every one of those “pioneer, strong, talented, much more superior to Reba” singers, ARE NOWHERE TO BE FOUND these days!!!!!!!!

    Reba has had a #1 in the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and 10’s. I think she’s doing just fine with the material she is releasing!!!!

    AWESOME song Reba!!!! Keep up the great work, You never cease to amaze me!!!!!!

  30. It’s a disappointing record (although not terrible), not surprisingly so, since Reba lost whatever artistic integrity she had about two decades ago. This is by no means the worst record Reba has issued in the last twenty years – I’d call it a C- as the material just isn’t that good

  31. Actually, I think “Cowboy Casanova” & especially “Undo It” were influenced by Shania Twain. They’re Shania songs. I recently read how Lee Ann Womack has made a point of telling tourmate Reba, now much she likes the “old” Reba, the “You’re The First Time I’ve Thought About Leavin'” Reba. Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall when they talk about THIS one?! Saw the Reba/George/Lee Ann tour in February. Going again in October, and despite the criticism, I’m betting this song brings down the house.

  32. I have always been a Reba fan and love what she puts out and this is no exception. I love the upbeat tempo music. I think she does a great job and her talent will never cease to amaze me. She is not one of the top female artist in the country for nothing and no one will agree on everything all the time. If she feels she did a great job, it’s her, after all she has done good all these many years and will continue to do so. Way to go REBA!!!!! I will DEFINATELY buy this one…

  33. Reba’s at a point in her career where she has to gauge what is hot on radio and take that into consideration when recording. However, this is simply a sub par interpretation of the current market and not worthy of her talent (or depth).

  34. I do NOT agree at all with this review. I just recently started listening to Reba, and I love this song. It’s amazing!

  35. After reading all the comments and giving the song a few listens, I have to agree that the material is way beneath Reba. If she was looking to pander to radio with a Underwood type tune she could have released Just When I Thought I Stopped Loving You but Reba proved with Consider Me Gone she doesn’t need to pander to country radio and its trends.

    Keep On Loving You still had steam so I do not understand why the label feels the need to rush a new album out so soon. If they felt the need to cash in quickly they could’ve re-released KOLY with this as a bonus track as well as Reba’s delicious cover of Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy.

    Since Kelly Clarkson has ruined my Lilith Fair trip I’d like to pin this one on her too!

    But in the end Reba still gets the love and I will be there in Birmingham on September 17th to cheer the Queen of Country on!!!!!

  36. Personally, I dont hear Reba’s influence on any of Carrie’s singles, but sadly I do hear Carrie’s influence on Reba with this song. That’s what I mean by the “white flag of surrender”. The youngsters should be influenced by the veterans, not the other way around.

  37. While I agree this song is far beneath Reba’s talent, I continue to be confused about her intentions as an artist.

    On one hand, she openly embraces the pop-leaning artists and sound of current country music. She’s one of the only older artists who hasn’t openly criticized the changing sound of the genere.

    On the other, she is also rapidly approaching a time that isn’t usually favorable to women in country music- she’s becoming older, and runs the risk of being irrelevant to younger country fans without changing her sound to fit in with the current crop of artists.

    Is she an artist who is simply chosing to expand her respect for country-pop as an artist, or is selling herself short to stay relevant?

    As for Carrie, she has always done a mixture of well-crafted country-pop while balancing it with covering more tarditional songs an artists. She could get away with a song like this, because it’s the type of material she records- she isn’t pretending to be someone she isn’t to pull it off. She’s also very open about citing Reba and Shania as influences, and both are noticable in the music she records. Why would she want to be Shania? She has plenty of her own success, and she does an excellent job of showing her influences from older and newer country artists. And Carrie’s voice is of higher quality as well. Just my opinion.

  38. As a long time Reba fan and Reba Impersonator, I beleive I can shed some light on whats going on!

    I happen to love the new song, a bit weird, but quite catchy. Yes, that’s all she is looking for, and has been for a while , until that right song comes along that connects with her audience. I.E. ‘Consider Me Gone’.

    Folks, she’s Reba period. She’s aging in an industry who thrives on the young, and the biggest ‘threat’ is Carrie Underwood, and Reba will not be able to thwart this girl, no matter what she tries.

    -I LOVE Carrie’s voice, all her songs have been very similar lately, and Carrie will become one of the greatest voices in country music in time, she’ll have her big moment.

    Until then, theres Miss Reba. Reba’s done gone “Hollywood”, and just like Betty White, Reba will continually evolve herself to stay relevant, shes going nowhere, she is NOT scared of anyone, come on, shes got too much money to really give a #@*&!

    As a Reba Impersonator for 15 years, working in major look-a-like casino shows and hundreds of show clubs, I am steeped in Reba’s music. I know what works, what doesn’t, trust me.

    This is just another phase of Reba’s career, like it or not, she’ll listen to the numbers, and go from there. I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes back to the full “Big Hair” and classic stylings of yesteryear, WE CAN ONLY HOPE!

    I love her music, and it’s about time she’s doing something to vie for the awards again, not sure if she’ll win one again, but that right song will come along again, and this is what she has to put out to get to that right song at the right moment.

  39. I don’t undertsnad how someone could not like this song. Are you just mad because Reba’s the one singing it? I like the song, and I like that Reba’s the one singing it. For the person who referenced “Guys Do It All The Time,” so what if Reba wanted that song? Obviously Reba is doing something right, so if she wanted to release this song, I give her my full support.

  40. Stupid review. Wax philosophy?? Water is a good thing,Uh Uh Uh undo it/??? what do you call these?
    Note to Trendy guy reviewer: Listen to the song. This is a wonderful song. Very fun, very catchy,sticks in your head. Why so harsh?? I just read a review of Sugarland’s dreadfull “Stick like glue”. OH my god. Anyone that says this is a good song. YIKES!!. I love Sugarland. Not this new single. Just deferent opinions on songs. Everyone has them.

  41. I just heard that Reba’s upcoming album will be called Turn On The Radio…. All I can say is: it better not turn out to be the worst album of her career… I mean, seriously, the song better not be a preview of what is to come on the album, since it is the album name. If the song were better and not a single, I might like the album title, since it is somewhat clever in a way, if it were used in a clever way. As we talked about in one of the other threads, I do not like artists naming their albums after their singles (particuarly their first ones). That’s the end of my soapbox.

  42. There are many songs that I dislike at first, but that grow on me eventually. This song was the exact opposite! When I first heard it and was getting ready to review it, I actually considered giving it a score of 6, but each time I heard it, the score dropped another point lower.

  43. I’m gonna be honest…it’s become a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. The lyrics are embarrassing and everything, but she sounds awesome and the chorus is a rush.

  44. Reba sure does know how to deliver a catchy chorus – I’ll give her that. I was almost sold on the song’s chorus. I just couldn’t get over all the nonsense surrounding it. But we’re all entitled to a little guilty pleasure time

    My latest confession: I like Sugarland’s “All I Want to Do.” Shame on me!

  45. Wow, can’t believe all the negative comments. I think it is a great song. So what if it’s not like all of her other stuff. I love it and keep changing stations in the hopes that it will be on. This song and Sugarland’s “stuck like glue” are my two favorites right now. Maybe I just like the upbeat catchy songs…

  46. I re-listened to “Turn On The Radio,” (which I brought from iTunes) and I like it better now. It has a country sound to it now.

    ….Call me crazy, but I swear that the original version on her site and the one I first heard had more of a pop sound to it… Am I right?? Or just hearing things?

  47. I really like the song, and reba has been doing traditional country for over 30 years, i think we can cut her some slack for trying a country-pop sound

  48. I like Reba’s new song, it sounds good and is catchy. I’d give it an A. Only Reba could sing a song like “Turn on the Radio” and truly sound amazing!

  49. I hate to comment on here again, but I just wanted to say that I hope that her team doesn’t plan to ride this single for all it can get… I mean, I’d LOVE for Ms. McEntire to earn another radio hit, but with it’s slip last week (#22 to #23) and now back to it’s former peak this week (#22), AND combined with its slow rise, it seems it may take a while for this single to crack the top ten (if it ever does). So I worry that they will spend too much time with this single and won’t release another one for a long while… (I would’ve loved the first single to be her cover of “If I Were A Boy,” which was just awesome, IMO. (and is included on her next album that is out this November)

    [I unfortunatly see the same problem with Miranda Lambert’s “Only Prettier” (the slow rise issue, I mean)].

  50. I don’t know about y’all, but I was really hoping that Reba would release “I Want a Cowboy” to radio before moving on the to the next album. I thought that song was awesome!

    [I like Miranda’s “Only Prettier” – hope it does well, but I sure don’t mind if it has a long chart run)

  51. I liked “I Want A Cowboy,” but I was actually hoping that “Maggie Creek Road” would be the next single. It was amazing to see the big fan reaction to that song.

    Same here with “Only Prettier,” but it’s unfortunate how slow some singles take to reach the top (or wherever their peaks are). I remember being frustrated that Womack’s “Last Call” was stuck at #14 (or wherever it was) for about two months and wouldn’t move upwards.

  52. Have any of you listened to the previews of Reba’s new CD? [I know generally most don’t like to listen to them… but my curiousity was piqued.]

    ….I Don’t think I’ll like it as much as I liked Keep On Loving You… But there seem to be a few good songs.

  53. Went Top 10 on Mediabase yesterday — will take a bit longer to go Top 10 on Billboard, possibly as early as next week. Reba rocks!

  54. Turn on The Radio is #4 and stilling climbing. Guess I’m not the only one who loves this song.
    Love Reba’s new album…no fillers. How in the world are they going to decide what the next single will be? I can’t decide which song is my fav. Next single will be a slow song sooo.. Cry,Somebody’s Chelsea,The day she got divorced or When you have a child. It may be If I were a boy. The other’s are so much better though.

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