It debuted at No. 54 on the chart of Billboard Hot Country Songs but climbed to the top spot six months later. The song was her 60th Top 10 single on the country charts, making McEntire the first female country singer in history to achieve that number of Top 10 hits.
A ‘Strong Woman Song’
Written by Cherie Oakley, Mark Oakley, and J. P. Twang, “Turn On the Radio” is “an up-tempo, strong woman song about a woman who has been done wrong by her lover and is telling him to turn on the radio if he wants to hear from her through their favorite song,” said McEntire.
“Well, you can hear me on the radio! You wanna turn me on, turn on your stereo. You can sing along while they’re playin’ my song. How you done me wrong, baby, crank it up until you blow the speakers out your Chevy truck. So listen, Romeo, when you’re feelin’ kinda lonely, let me tell you where to go. Turn on the radio!” the song goes.
McEntire’s vocals simply radiate in the song, with echoing harmonies backing her strong voice. The song then builds to a captivating close, thanks to the violins and impressive guitar solo.
Cherie Oakley has also told The Boot about the song’s inspiration and that one surprising phone call sealed the deal.
She said, “Turn On the Radio” started with just a simple idea of a “strong woman who had been done wrong by her man, and now he wants to get back in touch.” And with that basic idea, everything – the melody ideas and lyrics – just started flowing out for the three songwriters as they sat down in their home studio.
“We set out to write something upbeat, fun and in your face,” Cherie Oakley said. “I’m not a writer who can sit down and try to write a song specifically for someone; I’m a singer and an artist, so I always write what I would like to say and how I would like to say it. Every singer wants an attitude song — something they can really sink their teeth into.”
The song had only been completed in a matter of days when McEntire’s people stumbled upon it. Interestingly, it was really the veteran singer who called Oakley to ask her if she could cut the song.
“She is such a brilliant artist who has influenced me and so many others in so many ways. It truly was a surreal experience,” Oakley added. “When I said yes, she was so excited! She said, ‘You have made my day, Cherie.’ I was like, ‘No, you have made my day!’
You can listen to the song in the video below.