April 28, 2012
2000 | #30
The eleventh single from Shania Twain’s Come On Over was one of the least successful in the U.S., barely scraping the bottom of the Top 30. This was due in part to a lack of promotion for the single, though it did go Top 5 in Twain’s native Canada. In some ways, “Rock This Country!” comes across as a standard Twain up-tempo – peppy, with a fun Mutt Lange-style pop-country production, but the lyrics are surprisingly flavorless.
Time and time again, the Twain-Lange writing team had displayed a strong knack for crafting lyrics that were infectious and hook-heavy, yet doing so without entirely sacrificing substance. Behind all the singalong choruses, crossover-friendly productions, and flashy music videos, each Twain single had a simple message and a universal feeling at its core, be it an “Any Man of Mine” or an “(If You’re Not In It for Love) I’m Outta Here!,” a “That Don’t Impress Me Much” or a “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”
“Rock This Country!” is essentially about nothing. Though its title was enough for it to be used as a theme song for two different presedential campaigns, the lyrics hardly warrant discussion – just a song about some “buzz” going around, and a bridge consisting of a list of random U.S. states. It’s as if the song can’t get around its own title, and remainder of the lyric sheet is a blank slate.
That’s not to say that Twain and Lange don’t try their darndest hard to sell it. Lange surrounds his wife’s voice with an arrangement that goes from rock guitars one moment to a searing fiddle solo the next. Similarly, Twain’s performance exudes the usual energy, right down to the yell of “Let’s go!” before the instrumental breakdown.
But for all its positive additions, there’s no getting around the fact that “Rock This Country!” lacks the defining characteristic of a great Twain ditty: Her best songs stick. This doesn’t.
Written by Shania Twain and Robert Johnn “Mutt” Lange
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Previous: Come On Over
Listen: Rock This Country!