Single Review: Reba McEntire, “If I Were a Boy”

This really isn’t that bad.

Reba’s a great singer, and this is a great song.

Yes, the lyrics make it an awkward fit at times.  Did we really need to hear Reba McEntire use the phrase “kickin’ it”,  one single after using Twitter as an action verb?

But I think I get why this song is resonating with her. Perhaps more than three decades of being a female artist in a male-dominated industry makes it easy for her to tap into the double standard bemoaned by the lyric.

The problem is that even if her vocal brings maturity to the material, the production undermines it.  The echo on “boy” in the chorus is terrible. It sounds like something you’d hear an overzealous synthesizer band do in the early eighties.

Reba’s only had a handful of truly great singles in the last fifteen years.  “The Fear of Being Alone.”  “Consider Me Gone.” “He Gets That From Me.”

They’ve been great because she found a great lyric, delivered it flawlessly, and didn’t let the bells and whistles of production get in her way.

This could’ve been a great single, with a lyric or two changed to make it more believable, and a production that didn’t call out for a  Members Only jacket.

She’s Reba McEntire.  She has no excuse for not getting it right.

Written by Toby Gad and BC Jean

Grade: B-

Listen: If I Were a Boy


  1. I was surprised that this review was not nearly as negative as I was expecting. I’d say a B- is a pretty fair grade. It does come as a bit of a relief considering her previous single was so much worse.

    I like this single more then most, but it’s mostly Reba’s performance that makes it for me. I like the arrangement too, especially the steel guitar, though I scarcely noticed the echo effects at first.

  2. The last line is killer. Reba really doesn’t have any excuse for not getting it right.

    While I don’t hate it, I’m taken aback by her need to cover a pop song. I didn’t take issue when she and Kelly Clarkson (who is quickly proving she is not a country singer) recorded “Because Of You,” but I do here. Reba does not need to be making country versions of pop songs. Is this what a Country Music Hall of Fame worthy career has come to?

    I know the story behind this recording- she covered the song on a CMT Unplugged special and got such an overwhelmingly positive response that she went ahead and not only cut it but built an album around it.

    I just wish she was releasing stronger original material. I wish “The Day She Got Divorced” would’ve been the single instead. I miss the old Reba (80’s-2000) who was taking chances and also making better music videos.

    But their are far worse songs she could be singing and this is at least an attempt at something great. She’s just been much stronger in the past as Kevin rightly pointed out.

    I just wish she’d stop covering pop songs and stick to strong original material. Or at least when she does cover a pop song, do something as good as “Fancy” or “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia.” This is nowhere near as good as those two performances.

  3. Get review, and yes B- is a suitable grade.Jonathon, now that you mentioned how you miss reba’s story songs, GET THIS, scott borchetta said that they had intended to release a christmas album and one more single off of Keep on loving you (maggie creek road since it won the poll) but because of the positive response to this song, they decided to move on the new album and release TOTR.

  4. The acoustic version from her ‘Stripped’ session is much better. -SamB

    That’s what made it a viral hit…. at the very least, we have a mediocre single (Beyonce did a great job when she did it) paired with a great vocal…. Better than a mediocre single paired with a mediocre vocal.

    I did like the ‘Stripped’ session one better than the single release.

  5. Codec – I think I heard that soomewhere, too. The more I listen to it, “Maggie Creek Road” would have been a fantastic choice for a single. Great vocal and an all around great song. She could’ve made a killer video as well. “Maggie” should’ve been the single, over “Keep On Loving You,” if they were only going to end up releasing three from the album.

    I agree, the other verison from her special was better. I think it was more the shock of hearing Reba sing this song that made it so good. But it didn’t translate well to record. Plus, I LOVE Beyonce’s version and it’s hard to top that for me.

    But like I said, she has done worse than this in the past. I don’t hate it, but it isn’t my favorite either.

  6. This is a great song covered by the Queen Of Country. People’s problem is that the lyrics don’t relate to someone Reba’s age, it’s time you people realize that life doesn’t end after 25. Everyone on this site said that Reba using the word Twitter was dumb, Reba uses Twitter almost everyday and so it does make sense she would use it in a song. I don’t recall but didn’t Turn On The Radio become Reba’s latest NO.1 hit which puts her ahead by 8 years for the oldest female with a NO.1 hit. While most women over 30 have trouble getting a top ten hit Reba at 55 is having no trouble getting NO.1 hits. What it really comes down to is small minded people want roll over for Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood and let them take over. Reba still has the drive to keep evolving and keeping things fresh for her fans.

  7. *WHO* wants Reba to “roll over” for Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood??

    I’d be happy to see both Taylor and Carrie banished from the airwaves permanently. But that doesn’t make Reba’s latest album a good one. And this is coming from someone who bought every one of her albums from 1977’s Reba McEntire to 2007’s Reba Duets.

  8. Thank you. I thought it was just me who was cringing on the sound of “Boy”. Otherwise I think it’s a decent single, there’s just that one note that makes me cringe.

    I don’t see anything wrong with her covering this song and I don’t have any problem with her saying “Twitter” either. I’d much rather her cover this song than Carrie/Kelly/Taylor/etc. Although I do personally think Faith Hill would have given a better vocal performance to this song. Just my humble opinion however.

  9. It’s decent. I don’t care much for the original and Reba’s version is on the same level in my mind. Of all the songs out there, why did she pick this one?

  10. Reba is so talented, but the song is so far beneath her. It’s so far beneath any realistic human to blame her actions or lack thereof on someone else despite her gender… so, she’s a girl and she can’t get up in the morning and go drink beer with the boys? … really? … what country does she live in? … what level of pitiful does the whole song live in? … I always thought of her as a woman, strong and smart, guess I gave her way to much credit or else I should really listen to her song and give women less credit than I do…. feeling sorry for yourself because of your genitalia (or lack thereof) will get you nowhere with rational people. D- at best for this song, and that’s only because she could make puke sound good.
    I love you Girl … but you have to make smarter choices with your music …

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