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Music / Martina McBride

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I want arms that know how to rock me,
Safe in the arms of love,
I want to fall and know that love has caught me,
Safe in the arms of love…
"Safe in the Arms of Love"

A country hit-maker of The '90s and early-mid 2000s, known for her big soprano voice and constant themes of female empowerment.

Born Martina Schiff in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, McBride got her start in a family band, before moving to Nashville in 1991. She sold merchandise for Garth Brooks before signing with RCA Records in 1992. Although none of the singles off her first album made much of a dent, she got her first Top 5 hit in 1993 with "My Baby Loves Me", off her second album, The Way That I Am. The album also included one of her most famous songs, "Independence Day", a controversial song about domestic abuse as seen from the victim's daughter's standpoint.

1995's Wild Angels brought her to the top of the charts for the first time with its title track, but other singles from it were not as succesful. Starting with 1997's Emotion, McBride began moving to a more pop-influenced sound, which netted her first crossovers in "Valentine" (featuring pop pianist Jim Brickman) and especially the #1 hit "A Broken Wing". This album also certified triple-platinum in the U.S., and it set the tone for her material to come: slick production, themes of empowerment and "big" issues (many of her songs deal with abuse, illness, and the like), and of course, full-force soprano belting.

McBride's hot streak continued through 2004, including additional #1 hits in "Wrong Again", "I Love You" (her longest-lasting, at six weeks), and "Blessed". She also topped the Adult Contemporary charts in 2004 with "This One's for the Girls". After a 2005 detour to traditional-country covers on 2005's Timeless, she continued scoring lesser degrees of hits into 2010, when the underperformance of her Shine album led to her leaving RCA in favor of Republic Nashville. Her only Republic album, Eleven, fared little better, so she moved to Kobalt to release another covers album, Everlasting, in 2014.


  • The Time Has Come (1992)
  • The Way That I Am (1993)
  • Wild Angels (1995)
  • Evolution (1997)
  • White Christmas (1998)
  • Emotion (1999)
  • Greatest Hits (2001)
  • Martina (2003)
  • Timeless (2005)
  • Waking Up Laughing (2007)
  • Shine (2009)
  • Eleven (2011)
  • Everlasting (2014)
  • Reckless (2016)
  • It's the Holiday Season (2018)

Tropes present:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • "Independence Day" is about a mother who burns down her abusive husband's house while their young daughter watches, told as a flashback by the now-grown daughter.
    • "Concrete Angel" is a memorial to a girl who dies at the hand of an abusive mother.
  • Advertised Extra: Jim Brickman was credited for his piano playing on "Valentine". Justified in that Brickman is not a vocalistnote , and the song was originally from one of his albums before being added to one of hers.
  • Age-Progression Song: "This One's for the Girls" addresses girls aged 13, 25, and 42.
  • Album Title Drop: "How I Feel" drops the line "When I wake up laughing…"
  • The Alcoholic: "Cheap Whiskey" is about a man whose alcoholism becomes so severe that it tears his marriage apart.
  • Chronological Album Title: Eleven
  • Common Time: Averted with "A Broken Wing", which is in 12/8.
  • Downer Ending: Yeah, that girl who's a victim of child abuse in "Concrete Angel"? She dies in the middle of the song. But hey, she gets an angel statue for her gravestone! The music video lightens it a bit by showing her playing with other children in Heaven.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • One possible interpretation of the last verse of "A Broken Wing" ("He went up to the bedroom / Found a note by the window / With the curtains blowin' in the breeze"). Alternatively, she could have just escaped.
    • In "Independence Day," the last verse mentions sending the then-child singer to the "county home," implying that her mother burned down the home with both her and her abusive husband inside.
  • Dual-Meaning Chorus:
    • "Wrong Again": she was "wrong again" about her man being the right one for her, about him learning to see the error of his ways, and about her never being able to get over him once he leaves.
    • "Independence Day" is set on the Fourth of July and the chorus invokes a lot of patriotic iconography, but also refers to the independence the singer's mother gains from her abusive husband.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: On her first three albums, her sound is a lot more country and less polished, and the belting is downplayed or nonexistant.
  • Incredibly Long Note: At the end of "A Broken Wing": "Man, you oughta see her flyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy…"
  • Isn't It Ironic?: "Independence Day" is subject to this, often getting played during patriotic holidays despite its actual theme of escaping an abusive relationship. Gretchen Peters, the original songwriter, wrote a blog post about how she wanted to distance herself from it because of this, but got convinced otherwise by a gay man writing about what the song meant to him.
  • Issue Drift: From about Emotion onward, almost everything she did was a dead-serious "issue" song along the lines of "A Broken Wing". Among them: "Love's the Only House" (a general message of comfort to people in need), "Concrete Angel" (child abuse), "In My Daughter's Eyes" (messages of worldly positivity filtered through a child), "God's Will" (about a handicapped kid showing her how to love), "Anyway" (a vaguely religious-themed empowerment anthem), and "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" (breast cancer). Even when she does do an uptempo, it's almost invariably big, anthemic and life-empowering ("Ride", "Wrong Baby Wrong"), about domestic bliss ("Blessed", "I Just Call You Mine"), or both ("This One's for the Girls").
  • Melismatic Vocals: From about "A Broken Wing" onward, nearly every song had her belting to the rafters (see above).
  • Mixed Metaphor: "Ride" contains the lyric "Life is a roller coaster ride / Time turns the wheel and love collides".
  • Re-Cut: Happened to White Christmas several times. Originally released in 1998 with ten tracks, it was re-released in 1999 with two additional tracks inserted in the middle. It was re-released again in 2007 with four more tracks added in, and a reordered tracklist, and again in 2013 with one of the 2007 tracks replaced by a cover of Blue Christmas that she originally recorded for a posthumous Elvis Presley duets album, and a re-reordered tracklist.
  • Re-release the Song: "Valentine", a collaboration with pianist Jim Brickman, was originally released only to pop radio in 1997, but after it got some airplay on country stations, it was re-sent to country in 1998.
  • Retraux: Timeless was deliberately recorded as an homage to 1960s and 1970s country, with less polished production and even older instrument builds to make it feel more authentic.
  • Self-Empowerment Anthem: "This One's for the Girls"
  • Vocal Evolution: Outside "Independence Day", she did almost no belting until Evolution. This would become her default setting for nearly the rest of her career — and it would ultimately leave her voice sounding much rougher by the time she hit her fifties.