In the early eighties, a new kind of country band surfaced, structured like the rock bands that came before them, but deeply grounded in country instrumentation. Alabama were the pioneers of the field, and they reached a level of superstardom beyond most bands of any genre during their peak.
Gentleman Jim Reeves started off as a hardcore country singer, but his smooth crossover stylings would become synonymous with the Nashville Sound, combining with tragedy to grant him country music immortality only a dozen years into his career.
After the enormous success of the Up! project, Shania Twain released a top-selling Greatest Hits album in 2004, which spawned three singles. She then embarked on an extended hiatus before returning in 2011 with a new single and a reality series on The Oprah Winfrey Network. In this set of retro single reviews, we’ll take a look at Twain’s six most recent single releases to date.
“Party for Two” (with Billy Currington or Mark McGrath)
The first single from Twain’s Greatest Hits package was her last Top 10 country hit to date, but only the second Top 10 hit for her then-up-and-coming duet partner Billy Currington. The premise is shamelessly silly, as are the spoken word intro and the “You’ll be sexy in your socks” line, but Twain and Currington sell it with flair. Twain delivers her verses with a flirty, playful performance, while Currington renders his with the same laid-back smolder that would become his calling card at country radio.
The comfortingly reliable George Strait mixes it up a bit during his 1992-1993 run of singles with a cover of a beloved classic, hardcore country, a surprising country rocker, and a sweet love song for good measure.
Strait ably tackles the Hank Williams classic. He doesn’t surpass the original, but it’s cool that he brought the song back in 1992. Imagine if somebody tried to do that now.
Rascal Flatts, “Changed”
Like “I Won’t Let Go” a few years back, “Changed” is built on a sweeping sentiment, rousing melody and very little else. That’s not an inherently bad thing; despite an ounce of detail about the confessor, “Changed” feels like a confession –it pleads and swells and submits. Add in an earnest and relatively restrained performance, and the song has legs.
Written by Gary LeVox, Wendell Mobley & Neil Thrasher