Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Reba McEntire & Vince Gill, “The Heart Won’t Lie”

“The Heart Won’t Lie”

Reba McEntire & Vince Gill

Written by Kim Carnes and Donna Terry Weiss


#1 (2 weeks)

April 10 – April 17, 1993

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

April 9, 1993

Two country superstars deliver a power pop ballad.

The Road to No. 1

“The Heart Won’t Lie” kicked off another three consecutive No. 1 singles for Reba McEntire, following the top five success of “Take it Back,” the lead single from her album It’s Your Call.   Vince Gill was in the middle of a much longer string of chart-toppers, with “Heart” being the fourth of ten straight visits to the top.

The No. 1

Forget “Does He Love You.”  This is McEntire’s real diva vocal battle.

“The Heart Won’t Lie” is an eighties power pop ballad masquerading as a nineties country song, with just enough steel guitar and twangy vocals to distract from the opaque lyrics and bombastic chorus.

And that’s totally fine by me.  It makes for an entertaining showcase of two incredibly distinctive vocal powerhouses.

Vince Gill was already the best harmony singer to come along since Emmylou Harris, so his strong support throughout the track was inevitable.  But he shows off a bit himself on his verse, not quite matching Reba’s vocal acrobatics but doing a few cartwheels and handsprings of his own.

Then there’s that epic video homage to An Officer and a Gentleman, which brought the whole “this record is a major event” vibe to another level.

All in all, it’s an entertaining superstar flex from two Hall of Famers who were quite aware just how big they – and country music – had become by 1993.

The Road From No. 1

As noted above, more chart toppers are on the way from both artists this year.

“The Heart Won’t Lie” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. I actually remember hearing this one back in early 1993, and since I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing on that late 1992/early 1993 era in recent years, it wasn’t until more recently that the memories of having heard it in that time frame suddenly came back. I was then reintroduced to this song in 1998 when my dad got me a copy of Vince’s Souvenirs for my birthday. I would also see the video quite often on GAC Classic in the early 00’s. While I never disliked it, I was honestly a bit bored by it back then, and it was a bit too pop leaning for my tastes at the time. But now? I don’t know if it’s nostalgia, my tastes growing, or whatever, but I’ve really gotten to loving it lately! Both artists do give excellent performances, and now I would give anything for pop country to be more like this again, instead of…well you know.

    As I mentioned, I had seen the video so many times on GAC Classic, and I remember always being kind of humored whenever Vince was yelling down at Reba, since that seems to be the polar opposite of how Vince actually is in real life. And for the longest time, I could never hear this song without picturing Vince and Reba in Navy uniforms, especially during that “Ba da da da!” part done by the synthesizer (or electric guitar?) at the end of each chorus, lol. Even today, the image of Vince yelling as a drill instructor comes to mind whenever I think of this song, lol.

  2. I’ve always liked the song. I do feel like the male pet was originally written with Michael McDonald in mind – at least Vince sure seems to channel him with his vocal acrobatics.

  3. Kim Carnes is such an awesome and underrated songwriter.

    According to Carnes, after she and Weiss had written the song, Kenny Rogers had wanted he and Carnes to record it. For whatever reason, that never happened. But Carnes was thrilled to hear that Kenny was going to record it instead with Reba.

    Then, according to Reba, she and Kenny just couldn’t make it work. Their voices didn’t mold together on the song they way they had hoped. So they scrapped that idea.

    However, Tony Brown contacted Carnes about letting Reba record it as a solo. Carnes agreed and Reba asked Vince to sing harmony on the song. However, it soon became obvious (thankfully) that he should do a lot more on it.

    While I usually loathe 90s Reba (if I’m going to listen to her, I’d rather hear 80s Reba with either Harold Shedd or Jimmy Bowen as producer), I do like this song.

  4. Their voices do blend well and they have succeeded in making a mediocre pop ballad more than the sum of its parts.

    I liked the video, but tended to change stations when this song came on the radio. With three strong country stations in the area it was always easy to find a song I liked better – I would rate this single at C+/B- but would give the video a B+

  5. I am sucker for big production and great voices. I love how this song sounds and both artists are at their vocal peak.

    I am wondering what a comparable contemporary mainstream duet pairing today would be if this song were to be covered, Carrie Underwood and Chris Stapleton? Ashley McBryde and Luke Combs?

  6. I mean, Carrie and Jason Aldean just had a big vocal event that was a multi-week #1.

    About the only current country males that could pull this song off would either be Gary TheVoice or (Dan +) Shay, unless it’s modulated downward or they’re singing down an octave.

  7. For the record, my comment about the Jason/Carrie duet is they were basically the biggest acts of the 2010s (Jason crowned by Billboard and Carrie by default due to the lack of support for country women), about as close to the prime of their careers as would be comparable to Reba/Vince in 1993, not that they would do well on this song.

    I don’t think there’s a woman anywhere close to Reba’s star power in current mainstream country – even the new CMA Female Vocalist is still in the “40 weeks for her single to hit top ten” phase of her career. And there’s almost no singer technically gifted enough to do Vknce’s part – the gents I named in my first comment could hit the notes but not the histrionics or emotion.

    If Reba were to pull a reimagined duet (a la Dolly on “Does He Love You”), I’d almost picture her doing this with Timberlake. They’ve worked together in the past after all.

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