Reba McEntire’s comedic chops and natural charisma made her an ideal multimedia superstar across time, from country’s post-MTV music video channels to the promotional opportunities offered by the even smaller screens we carry in our pockets.
McEntire didn’t necessarily need CMT or more recent streaming subscription services to transcend the Billboard charts and award shows. As long as there’s been country music, multi-talented people like June Carter did just fine making people laugh with a joke and cry over a song without music videos. However, Nashville might’ve needed one of its most beloved and camera-friendly stars to take advantage of a new trend in American popular culture.
McEntire’s videos for these 10 hits built richer stories for already vivid vocal performances. Footage of the singer playing a lead character gets preference here, disqualifying the superstar’s brief cameo in the heartbreaking “What Do You Say” music video or the gussied-up live footage used for “Starting Over Again.”
10. “Sunday Kind of Love”
The idea that McEntire could’ve been a star in a different era gets a different spin in this music video. For her cover of an Etta James classic, the country singer transforms into an elegant jazz-pop singer.
9. “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”
Although it’s a little over-dramatic at times, this video is still memorable for McEntire’s multi-role performance. We get to see her as both a sweet old lady and a young, cold-blooded murderer! On a slightly related note, who else wishes there’d been a sitcom co-starring Reba and Vicki Lawrence?
8. “Whoever’s in New England”
McEntire masterfully portrays the suspicious yet dedicated wife of a cheating businessman in this Grammy and ACM Award-winning song. Its music video lends faces and even more emotion to an already moving story.
7. “Somebody’s Chelsea”
In a more recent example, McEntire’s character reconsiders relationships after a chance encounter with a widower played by television icon Ed Asner. It might’ve been her kindest-hearted work before her 2017 gospel album Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope.
6. “What Am I Gonna Do About You”
McEntire goes from “I’ll be fine” to bawling on a dime in this song about the emotional aftermath of a divorce. As with several higher-ranking videos, the singer makes a great song even more memorable by driving its emotion home with a few well-timed facial expressions.
Videos adding an emotional layer to already thorough songs even applies to the near-flawless lyrics of Bobbie Gentry. For McEntire’s cover of “Fancy,” the title character and her desperate mama come to life in this trip to the Mississippi Delta.
4. “The Heart Won’t Lie” (With Vince Gill)
Gill always does a good job in music videos, whether they tell a silly story or match the emotion of his more iconic hits. It’s no surprise, then, that he worked out swimmingly as McEntire’s duet partner and on-screen love interest.
3. “Does He Love You” (With Linda Davis)
For this amazing duet, McEntire and Davis deal with ex-boyfriend drama in a tender, moving story that suddenly becomes a dark comedy. Right as you grow to empathize with both women’s characters in different ways, Reba and some “meathead” (director Rob Reiner) blow up Davis and the man in question’s boat! A new generation learned the song later on with Kelly Clarkson as McEntire’s duet partner.
2. “Is There Life Out There”
Every hard-working, blue collar woman in McEntire’s audience gets celebrated by this song and video pairing. In it, she balances a hectic diner job and life as a non-traditional student for her kids — and also for Huey Lewis.
1. “Why Haven’t I Heard From You”
McEntire reaches her comedic peak here without a single one-liner. Every funny facial expression you’d want from Reba, from hammy bewilderment to an Elvis snarl, helps explain her frustration over some guy named Brad. Also, why aren’t nostalgia hounds more excited about that equally stylish hairdresser?