Monday, December 14, 2009

Videography: Reba McEntire (Part I - The 80's)

In the early 90's, Reba McEntire pretty much reigned supreme as the queen of country music. She was successful in the 80's (well, by the mid 80's) and successful after, despite younger, blonder apple cheeked nymphettes fusing pop and country. Besides her powerful voice and amazing song choice, Reba was also known for her elaborate music videos. So here I go again, starting yet another series where I look into the music videos of my favorite artists. Perhaps I will eventually rank, but this list is more of an overview to see the development and themes present in Reba's videos. Since she has a shit ton of them, I will be splitting this blog into chapters and this one is all about the 80's.

Order: 1
Title: "Whoever's in New England"
Album: Whoever's in New England (1986)
Song Premise: A woman is aware of her husband’s affair and wants him to know that she will be waiting when he chooses to end it.
Video Premise: Basically, it's a power point version of the song. Reba's husband is an executive who goes on a lot of business trips. As Reba sits at home stroking her coffee cup and suspecting her husband of cheating, he's is, in fact, up in New England having sexy candlelit New England dinners and sexy New England snowball fights. At the end of the video, Reba drives her hubby to the airport. While she sings soulfully into the camera, he runs back (having forgotten something) and hugs her.

Comments: This video does not age well. I know I'm not the most educated on country music videos, but I do know they're at least ten years behind the ones pop music cranks out. The fact that this supposed to be sexy, is ridiculous. You would think in the (almost) age of Fatal Attraction, they could have found someone a little more Tawny Kitaen and a little less Murphy Brown. Except for the quality of the film, this video looks like it could have been shot by a group of Reba fangirls who were bored one winter know, if they found adults to act in it. The most laughable part? It won Video of the Year at the ACM awards in '86.

Order: 2
Title: "What Am I Gonna Do About You"
Album: What Am I Gonna Do About You (1986)
Song Premise: A woman is haunted by the memory of a former lover despite everyone thinking she's over him.
Video Premise: Another song to video translation. This one is even more literal. There's a shot of a neighbor working on Reba's roof during the line "the neighbor next door fixed the roof where it leaked." Yeah. No lyric goes unrepresented. Also, we see Reba and former loverboy (who has a sweater draped across his douchey shoulders) having a picnic in the park and playing football. This is all fine until the end when we see Reba alone, flipping through slides of her and her ex.

Comments: This video and "Whoever's in New England" could have been shot at the same time. They are equal in tone and style...except the ending. Reba's love interest doesn't come running back at the end. And the slides wouldn't be as creepy if the guy were dead, and maybe he is, but that's not the impression I've gotten whenever I've listened to this song. So, this one is rather unsettling.

Order: 3
Title: "The Last One to Know"
Album: The Last One to Know (1987)
Song Premise: A woman mourns the end of a relationship and the fact that she was the last to know of its ending.
Video Premise: Reba sings in a sunny pasture in front of a farm house...then in a dark room full of track lights longing to be lasers. Finally, Reba is shown packing a suitcase and leaving the farmhouse.

Comments: A lot of Reba's videos have sparse production. It's either a huge mini movie, or Reba standing in front of a cheesy backdrop or in front of an audience. This is one of the latter. Let me just say now, I hate these kind. I actually prefer the lame literal translation of her first two videos to this nothingness. I mean, why even bother? I can picture her singing just fine on my own. Don't spend thousands of dollars on it.

Order: 4
Title: "Sunday Kind of Love"
Album: Reba (1988)
Song Premise: A woman longs for a love that lasts past Saturday night.
Video Premise: A young girl named Katy is called into dinner. She narrates that in the summer of 1945 she was 9 years old and that the radio helped America forget it was still at war. Katy says she imagines the broadcasts coming from the most glamorous place. We then shift to Reba singing in a night club, all dress in 40's garb, while people dance all around her. It flashes back to the house when Katy's father returns home from the war.

Comments: Back to the movie format. This one actually looks a hell of a lot better. The song lyrics aren't really relevant to what's going on. Being a standard from the 40's, it's more about the effect of radio, I guess. It's the first video to have Reba not play the victim.

Order: 5
Title: "I Know How He Feels"
Album: Reba (1988)
Song Premise: A woman sees her ex-boyfriend with his new woman and regrets ending their relationship.
Video Premise: Reba sings on a live stage with two back up singers in a royal blue sequined Krystle Carrington number.

Comments: Um, yeah...boring. Bummer because it's one of my favorite Reba songs too.

Order: 6
Title: "Cathy's Clown"
Album: Sweet Sixteen (1989)
Song Premise: A man is whipped by a woman named Cathy and is the laughing stock of the town and he doesn't seem to notice the narrator's interest in him.
Video Premise: Reba plays a saloon girl/madame who is in love with a man referred to as "Cathy's Clown". He comes into the saloon and is laughed at by the other patrons. After he finishes his drink, he and Reba share a moment, but he leaves, presumably to go home to Cathy.

Comments: Most people know this is originally an Everly Brothers song where the narrator is tired of being Cathy's Clown and means to leave his bitchy girlfriend. When a woman sings it, the meaning of the song changes. I'm not sure why the video is set in the old west, but I fucking love it. You would think there would be more country artist that would utilize this, but off the top of my head, this is the only video that does. And I love Reba's emerald saloon girl/80's prom dress hybrid. I want one.

1 comment:

Flip Chick said...

I just discovered your posts about Reba's videos. I'm a fairly new Reba fan (less than a year and a half), but a HUGE fan. It's nice that you are going through all her music videos in order. Your comment about the "other woman" in the vid for Whoever's In New England is funny. Sure, she could have been a lot sexier, but if you go with the premise that he is having an affair with a business associate, the look they went with seemed more appropriate. And frankly I think that it might make it seem more "real" to women - that the woman that stole their man doesn't look like a movie star. Besides all of that, I don't think the woman looks all that ridiculous - I was a teenager in the 80s and that was just "business woman look" back in the day.

When I listen to the song What Am I Gonna Do About You, I never pictured the guy being dead - just that they were no longer together and she couldn't stop thinking of him. But it seems pretty clear to me that the music video makes the choice that he died and that's why she can't get over him. Not a bad choice, but just not where I immediately went to in my mind when I listened to it.

While a video of just watching someone sing can be boring, there are some vids of Reba just singing which are truly wonderful. Looking forward to reading more of your comments.