It’s no secret that I love Reba McEntire. I own every album she’s ever released, I’ve seen her in concert thirteen times, and I even got to meet her back in 2005.
However, much to my chagrin, she’ll likely never have another #1 song on the Billboard Country charts (unless she duets with a chart-dominating, younger star)!
Reba’s place in country music history is cemented as iconic. She’s the “Queen of Country Music” and she’s a member of the “Country Music Hall of Fame”.
Reba has more Top Ten hits than any other woman in country music and she’s tied with Dolly Parton for the most #1 songs on the Billboard Country charts by a woman at 25.
So, why did the lead single from her latest #1 album, “Love Somebody”, “Going Out Like That” only peak at #23 on the Billboard Country chart (and #28 on the Country Airplay chart) and why did it take six months to rise and fall at country radio?
And, why is Reba’s latest single, “Until They Don’t Love You”, only being played at 60-something country stations? It’s just now cracking the Top 50 country radio airplay list at #48.
Here are my thoughts and I know this might not set well with some Reba fans. But, being one myself, I’m being objective.
At this point in her career, Reba may not be concerned about #1 hits at country radio. As an avid chart watcher and huge Reba fan, the fault might be mine — I care, but Reba may not.
While Reba released her first album in 1977, it wasn’t until she switched labels to MCA that she had her first gold album with 500,000 copies shipped (“My Kind of Country”, 1984).
Her first platinum album (one million copies shipped), “Whoever’s In New England” came out in 1986, and her first multi-platinum album was “Greatest Hits”, which dropped in early 1987 and has sold more than three million copies.
Reba’s biggest selling album, “Greatest Hits, Volume 2”, has moved more than five million copies and that one came out in 1993.
Since then, her album sales have been dropping.
Her 2010 release, “All The Women I Am”, has not even been certified gold and it featured her last #1 song at country radio, “Turn On The Radio”.
As I mentioned earlier, Reba may not be concerned with how high her singles go on the chart. She may not lose sleep over how many album she sells because she knows that her concerts are huge draws and they always will be. Concerts are where artists make their money.
However, Madonna’s hit singles at Top 40 radio are as infrequent as Reba is at country radio lately.
When Reba followed up the chart topper “Turn On The Radio” with her remake of the Beyonce song, “If I Were A Boy”, that song stalled at #22 and the two other singles released from the album peaked at #40 and #44.
Shortly thereafter I questioned a friend in the radio industry about the cool reception for the final three singles from “All The Women I Am”. He said he wasn’t surprised “after having ‘If I Were a Boy’ shoved down our throats.”
After that album’s release, Reba devoted more time to her family, her Reba brand at Dillard’s department stores, acting one season on ABC’s “Malibu Country” and touring.
Now that she has a residency in Las Vegas with Brooks & Dunn and she’s touring again supporting the new album, “Love Somebody”, why aren’t the first two singles burning up the charts?
In one of my first blogs, I brought up the topic of ageism and sexism in the entertainment world. You can read that blog here:
While that is still blatant, I think the real problem for Reba now is her association with the Nash Icon record label, which is focused on the “biggest country artists of the last two decades, who are still recording and touring but not getting enough exposure today”.
If that wasn’t limiting enough, it’s affiliated with Cumulus Media, the third largest radio group in the business. And, that is reflecting in the number of stations that played “Going Out Like That” and the new song.
As of yesterday, “Until They Don’t Love You” is being played on 67 of 262 stations that report to Mediabase. Of those, many are Cumulus stations.
This is purely speculation, but I feel that other radio groups, such as Clear Channel (#1) and Infinity (#2) don’t want to get into the business of promoting singles that another radio group, Cumulus, is making money off of.
Another example to prove this point is Ronnie Dunn, who is on the Nash Icon label. His new single, “Ain’t No Trucks In Texas” is faltering at country radio.
When I saw Reba live in early August, she performed both singles from the “Love Somebody” album and they sound great.
I hope that I’m wrong about Reba never topping the country singles charts again without the support of say someone like Luke Bryan or Carrie Underwood.
Country radio, prove me wrong!
Show me that you still love Reba and that there’s room on your playlist for new songs in heavy rotation and not just the occasional classics.