“Rumor Has it”
Written by Bruce Burch, Vern Dant and Larry Shell
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
January 25, 1991
Reba fully embraces her inner diva on this memorable power ballad.
The Road to No. 1
Toward the end of 1990, Reba McEntire had topped the charts with “You Lie,” the lead single from Rumor Has It. With that album already her fastest-selling yet, MCA sent the title track to radio.
The No. 1
As I’ve mentioned before, we’re in Reba McEntire’s imperial phase, where she went from simply being the top-selling female country artist to being a multi-platinum star who could keep up with the men at the head of the pack. “You Lie” was a masterpiece, and one of the most unique sounding records of her career. “Rumor Has it,” meanwhile, lays down the power ballad template that would become her signature style in the coming years.
It’s a relatively simple formula: take the structure of a pop power ballad, add some country instrumentation, and let Reba completely loose. The more she pushes her vocal limits, the more country her vocal becomes, with her natural twang being most prominent when she’s reaching for difficult notes. It’s like the country music equivalent of Patti LaBelle.
Down the road, McEntire would stumble by trying to make actual pop-flavored music, which goes against her strengths. But on a classic like “Rumor Has it,” she can deliver like nobody else. She takes a simple small-town cheating experience and infuses it with drama and pathos, claiming the every woman experience as decisively as Garth Brooks claimed the every man experience with his breakthrough hits.
Incredibly, this is the weakest of the four singles from Rumor Has It.
The Road From No. 1
Reba scaled new career heights in 1991, returning to the Entertainer of the Year races and claiming her fifth ACM Top Female Vocalist trophy, extending her own record. The next two singles from Rumor Has It were also among her career best: “Fancy” went top ten and became her signature hit; “Fallin’ Out of Love” went top five shortly after.
However, her professional achievements were overshadowed by a horrible tragedy, which would inform her next studio album and result in her finest artistic achievement. We’ll talk more about that when the lead single and title track tops the charts at the end of 1991.
“Rumor Has it” gets an A.