Reba McEntire Doesn’t Approve of ‘Bro Music’ in Country

As someone who has been a country music megastar for more than four decades, it’s safe to bet Reba McEntire has some insight into what sounds work best for the genre. Of course, that means she might have an occasional opinion on what doesn’t work, as well. And she went on the record to say she doesn’t think “bro music” belongs.

So, what does she mean by “bro music”? And what kind of country does she prefer?

Reba McEntire in a shimmery top, smiling
Reba McEntire | Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMA

Reba McEntire likes ‘real strong country,’ not the ‘bro trend’

As a living legend of country music, it seems to go without saying McEntire knows what works and what doesn’t work. And she said she doesn’t like “bro culture” in country.

“It’s the bro trend. You know, ‘Hey bro, let’s go down to the river and catch some fish.’ And everybody’s ‘good ol’ boys’ and that’s the ‘bro music.’ It’s kind of going away from that a little bit,” she explained to PBS News Hour.

For a different definition: “Taste of Country staff recently worked to define bro country and settled on songs that include trucks, some small amount of objectification of women, a clearing at the end of the road where physical affection will take place and some amount of strong alcohol (that one is crucial).”

So, what kind of country does McEntire prefer instead? “I would really like it to get back to the real strong country,” she said. And to be more specific, she shared, “The country of Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap, and Mel Tillis. I miss that kind of country.”

Reba McEntire wants to see women country singers supporting each other

While McEntire and other women have enjoyed long and successful careers in country music, she’s gone on the record to express her sorrow over the overall lack of female representation. When there were no female artists nominated for Entertainer of the Year at the 2018 Academy of Country Music Awards, McEntire told Entertainment Tonight it was “disappointing.”

“But the country music business is very cyclical. It’ll go very traditional with the music or it will go very contemporary. The girls dominate or the boys dominate, so, it’s coming around,” she said. “I have faith.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean she thinks anyone should trust their luck to those cycles in the country music business. She thinks women should have each other’s backs and continue in their personal dedication to their talents.

“I just know, us gals, we gotta work harder,” McEntire told PBS. “We gotta support each other. We gotta get in there next year. It’s gotta change.”

Reba McEntire ushered in a new kind of country

A 1993 article about McEntire and women in country music from the Seattle Times revealed the air of feminism around her at the time. Her songs were a departure from the classics of female country icons at the time. She and other women like her were proving they weren’t a heartbroken monolith at all.

McEntire represented a girl-power trend. “If some puny cowpoke cuts and runs, Reba McEntire — this year’s working-mother, run-my-own-company, don’t-give-me-no-trouble Queen of Country Music — says just one thing,” Jennifer L. Stevenson wrote. “Girl, you pull yourself together and keep on moving.”

“No longer content to stand by their men, women singers affirm a feminist message that hasn’t often been heard in music, especially not in country ballads,” Stevenson noted. So in the end, McEntire’s distaste for “bro country” might have to do with the seeming lack of a place for women to be stars within the genre.

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