Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Ronnie Milsap, “In Love”

“In Love”

Ronnie Milsap

Written by Bruce Dees and Mike Reid

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

August 29 – September 5, 1986


#1 (1 week)

September 27, 1986

Ronnie Milsap scored another No. 1 hit from Lost in the Fifties Tonight, which was awarded Album of the Year at the CMA ceremony that aired shortly after “In Love” topped both major charts.

Unlike the title track and “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby,” there’s nothing retro about the theme or the sound of “In Love.” It’s a thoroughly contemporary affair on both counts.

This works to the record’s advantage when it comes to its lyrics, which are as incisive as they are insightful.  Once you’re dating over a certain age, there’s inevitably some repair work to be done before you can jump in with both feet again.  Milsap, as always, leads with empathy and understanding, communicating beautifully that he will have the patience for his new love to come around.

Where the record stumbles is in its very contemporary production, which leans into the worst impulses of the mid-eighties.  The beat is too reserved to be thumping.  It just plods along.  Also missing in action is any discernable melody in the chorus, which is only pleasing to the ears when Milsap discards it toward the end of the song and really lets loose as a vocalist.  Up until that point, the monotonous repetition of “in love” is mildly irritating.

A good enough effort on Milsap’s part, but not one of his best.

“In Love” gets a B. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. After a couple of doo wop songs, it was great for Milsap to get back to a more modern sound.

    While I MUCH prefer his 70s music to his 80s, this was one of my favorites of the 80s. It’s a unique style and it is perfect for radio.

    I would’ve given it an A

  2. These increasingly frequent stylistic hiccups from the decade’s strongest chart performers are indicative of the creative uncertainty that came with trying to balance a sound that had previously served them so well with the less busy and dense production aesthetic that was emerging in Nashville.

    Mike Reid had certainly not forgotten how to write a smart lyric.

    Milsap remains in top form as an insanely skilled vocalist.

    As much as I enjoy this performance, there is something off about it.

    How strange must it have been at this point of the decade for these veteran artists to still be topping the charts and winning industry awards, all the while feeling the playing field tilting away from them.

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