Written by Charlie Black, Bobby Fischer, and Austin Roberts
#1 (1 week)
November 3, 1990
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
October 12, 1990
A new decade and a new co-producer take Reba McEntire’s career to the next level.
The Road to No. 1
By 1990, Reba McEntire had already become one of the most successful female artists in country music history, dominating the awards circuit with record-breaking runs as Female Vocalist of the Year at the CMA and ACM Awards, as well as winning the 1986 CMA trophy for Entertainer of the Year. Her record sales were consistently gold and platinum, and she hadn’t missed the top ten with a radio single since 1984. Her last album of the eighties, Sweet Sixteen, produced four hits and spent thirteen weeks at No. 1 on the country albums chart. She was also a top draw touring act and popular media personality, regularly co-hosting awards shows and having a high enough profile to appear on the network talk shows.
But McEntire was wise enough to know that things were slowing down and that the competition was growing more fierce. While recuperating from a difficult pregnancy, McEntire made the decision to switch co-producers, tapping MCA executive Tony Brown to helm her seventeenth studio album with her. For the first single from their new collaboration, Rumor Has It, the pair chose Reba’s cover of a 1988 album track from Cee Cee Chapman’s debut album.
The No. 1
“You Lie” was immediately different from the singles that preceded it. While McEntire’s final singles co-produced by Jimmy Bowen sounded stuck in the eighties, “You Lie” debuted a fresh and contemporary sound, with more aggressive production and a more challenging vocal for McEntire to deliver.
It’s a fantastic song already, but McEntire’s performance of it was her finest on record up until this point, with her sounding like a turbo-charged Tammy Wynette, if she’d only had the vocal power of Patsy Cline. McEntire’s ability to sing a soaring melody without losing her twang allowed her to stake her claim as a big-throated country diva, every bit as tethered to country music as Patti LaBelle or Whitney Houston remained tethered to R&B.
“You Lie” kicks off McEntire’s imperial phase, with a string of blockbuster singles that were so consistently excellent that she managed to reach new levels of commerical success while most of her eighties peers were being left behind.
The Road From No. 1
On the strength of “You Lie,” Rumor Has It became McEntire’s fastest-selling album to date, selling over a million copies in only seven months. They followed it up with the album’s title track, which we will cover in 1991.
“You Lie” gets an A.