Reba McEntire’s singular look and sound has served as inspiration for a generation of drag queens, many of whom seized on the campy melodrama of “Fancy” and “Does He Love You” to bring the house down as soon as those songs entered the popular canon. In 2018, the country icon is taking her own turn in drag, donning the famous white suit and mustache to become KFC’s “Colonel” – based on the chicken chain’s iconic founder Col. Sanders – in a new series of commercials set to air beginning January 28th.
In the first of these, McEntire appears center stage in a grimy saloon that looks like something out of Roadhouse – note that Patrick Swayze’s brother Don is one of the band members – and sings a lively two-stepping tune that goes meta about the Colonel’s appearance and the introduction of the new Smoky Mountain BBQ fried chicken flavor. “Please ignore a likeness to famous country singers / I’m definitely not a woman,” McEntire sings, a winking acknowledgement of the performance’s gender-bending aspects. In true Roadhouse fashion, a chair-throwing brawl breaks out among the patrons and the police break it up with line dancing skills instead of weapons.
McEntire is the first woman and first musician to play the Colonel, following recent portrayals by Rob Riggle, Darrell Hammond and Rob Lowe. Her most recent release is the 2017 holiday collection My Kind of Christmas.