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.
As the nineties began, George Strait was the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, a title noted on the belt buckle he wore on the cover of Livin’ it Up.
Around this time, Billboard switched to monitoring radio stations in real time, revealing just how often songs were really being played. So while all of his eighties #1 singles spent only a week at the top, all four of the #1 singles listed here spent multiple weeks in the penthouse, including two five-week runs at the top.
“Love Without End, Amen”
One of Strait’s most enduring hits, “Love Without End, Amen” foreshadowed the understated religiousness of future hits like “I Saw God Today.” A classic three act story song, it makes its point subtly and endearingly.
1989 | #1
Written by veteran songwriter Sanger D. “Whitey” Shafer (who had previously supplied Strait with hits such as “Does Forth Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” and “All My Ex’s Live In Texas”), “Overnight Success” was released in the fall of 1989 as fourth and final single from George Strait’s album Beyond the Blue Neon. It peaked at a respectable #8, breaking a streak of eleven number-one hits, but continuing Strait’s run of Top Ten hits that stretched back seven years.
Today is Dolly Parton’s 67th birthday. What better time to revisit and relaunch our ongoing feature that reviews every single that she’s released in her illustrious career?
This post will look at her four singles from late 1975 through the end of 1976. Three were solo efforts, while the fourth was her final release of the decade that was a collaboration with Porter Wagoner.
“We Used To”
Written by Dolly Parton
It was clear by this point that Parton had designs on the pop market, but she hadn’t yet found the right way to make her style work in that format. So we get overlong pop ballads like this, which ramble on forever because Parton’s restraining her vocal trademarks that would make the record too identifiably country.
1989 | Peak: #1
A Western Swing spin on “The Gambler.”
1995 | Peak: #1
As promises of never-ending love go, this isn’t terribly optimistic.
2002 | Peak: #1
“Unbroken” was the fourth consecutive #1 single from Set This Circus Down, a streak unmatched by any other Tim McGraw album.
2004 | #18
Of all Shania Twain’s gifts as a singer-songwriter, her ability to tackle heartbreak may have been the most under-heralded. That side of Twain was well showcased on several standout tracks from The Woman In Me, but of all the nineteen tracks on the Up! album, there was only one sad song in the bunch. But oh, what a beauty it was.
1975 | Peak: #5
“Forever is the love,” they sing, “that is true and undemanding.”