Shania Twain

2015 ACM Awards: Country Universe Viewer’s Guide

April 19, 2015 // 14 Comments

The fiftieth annual Academy of Country Music Awards air tonight, and Country Universe has you covered!  Here’s a rundown of all of the major categories, along with some commentary from our writers about who should win, who will, and what the nominations as a whole say about the current state of country music. Share your thoughts about this year’s show in the comments, and check back for a list of winners when it’s all said and done. Update: Join the CU crew on Twitter (@CountryUniverse) during the show to share your thoughts as things unfold! Entertainer of the Year Should Win: Jason Aldean Garth Brooks – Jonathan Luke Bryan – Sam Florida-Georgia Line Miranda Lambert – Ben, Kevin Will Win: Jason Aldean Garth Brooks Luke Bryan Florida Georgia Line Miranda Lambert – Jonathan, Ben, Sam, Kevin BF: I think Lambert is due, but I could get on board with a Read More

Daily Top Five: Songs About Money

April 17, 2015 // 13 Comments

This week brought tax season to an end, and depending on how it went for you last year, you’ll be collecting a refund check or writing one out to the IRS instead. Seems as good a time as any to share our five favorite songs about money! Here ‘s my top five: Merle Haggard, “If We Make it Through December” John Anderson, “Money in the Bank” Todd Snider, “Broke” Shania Twain, “Ka-Ching!” Alabama, “40 Hour Week (For a Livin’)”    

Daily Top Five: Most Recent Purchases

April 14, 2015 // 29 Comments

Today’s a fairly big release day for long time country music fans, as two legends release sets today:  Reba McEntire, who returns after five years with Love Somebody, and Dwight Yoakam, who is back with Second Hand Heart, which is only his second album of new material in the last ten years. We’ve already review the lead Reba single and lead Dwight single.  We’ll have reviews up of both albums at a later date, but they influenced today’s Daily Top Five:  What are your most recent purchases? I’m still an albums guy, so I’m going to list my most recent five albums purchased, but feel free to list tracks instead, if you’re more the a la carte type. My five most recent (country) album purchases are: Shelby Lynne, Temptation Shania Twain, Still the One: Live From Vegas Rhiannon Giddens, Tomorrow is My Turn Punch Brothers, The Phosphorescent Blues Jason Isbell, Read More

Discussion: Play the New Stuff, or Stick to the Hits?

March 17, 2015 // 14 Comments

Shania Twain is returning to the road for the first time in more than a decade, and she’s calling it her farewell tour. Well, technically, she’s calling it the Rock This Country tour, but it’s being marketed as both her return to and retirement from the road. I should be all over this.  She’s one of my favorite all-time artists, and I loved her tour in support of Up!, which I still consider her best album. But even though I enjoyed her Vegas television special last month, and even though any set list would be stacked with songs that I love, I’m honestly not that interested in seeing the show. This is for a simple reason:  She’s not touring in support of new material. I think I’m in the minority on this one, but I don’t like it when an artist only plays their hits from the past.   There’s something Read More

CU10 Flashback: Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain and Gender in Country Music

July 23, 2014 // 8 Comments

In 2008, I was finishing up my degree in journalism and trying to understand what it meant to be a professional writer. I wanted to write about music, but the divide between fan and critic felt, at times, insurmountable. That fall, I stumbled onto Country Universe through this post, and it changed my perspective. As both a writer and leader, Kevin was thoughtful, rational and personally invested in the country music genre. He showed a deep respect for the genre’s history, but wrote about new artists with tolerance and curiosity. Best of all, he held readers and writers alike to the highest standards of decency. It’s for that reason that this post shines. Kevin’s ability to take a stand while cultivating constructive dialogue is unmatched. He cut through the divisive hype around Carrie Underwood –an artist who is as special to me now as she was back then—and underlined the Read More

Single Review: Lucy Hale, “You Sound Good to Me”

January 29, 2014 // 5 Comments

Lucy_Hale_-_You_Sound_Good_to_MePretty Little Liars actress turned country newcomer Lucy Hale cites Shania Twain and Martina McBride as major musical influences, and to a degree it’s perceptible on her debut single “You Sound Good to Me.” The track begins with a light, airy fiddle hook, and segues into an effervescent uptempo pop-country love song with an atypically sparse production arrangement by country radio standards (murky background vocals aside).

Country Universe’s Best Singles of 2013, Part One: #40-#21

December 30, 2013 // 13 Comments

For the second year in a row, our seven writers – Kevin Coyne, Leeann Ward, Dan Milliken, Tara Seetharam, Ben Foster, Jonathan Keefe, and Sam Gazdziak – individually listed our twenty favorite albums and singles of the year. It’s a diverse crop of singles, some of which dominated country radio, while others were primarily heard in the Americana, bluegrass, and alternative country worlds. Today, we present the first half of our singles list, with the conclusion to follow tomorrow. Share your favorites in the comments!

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“Someone Somewhere Tonight”
Kellie Pickler

Individual rankings: #16 – Ben; #19 – Tara

A sweeping power ballad anchored by an intimate chorus and Pickler’s pleading sincerity. – Tara Seetharam

Single Review: Luke Bryan, “Drink a Beer”

November 20, 2013 // 26 Comments

Luke BryanJudge by the title, and you’ll think you’re getting just another mindless rave-up. Sure, it will be catchier than most of them because of Luke Bryan’s irrepressible vocal charm, but a mindless rave-up is a mindless rave-up.

It’s tempting to make the jump and think Bryan is deliberately playing against expectations here, recording a song with a predictable title that leads to the completely unexpected territory of grief and loss. But maybe it’s just that if drinking a beer is the way you celebrate with friends and loved ones, it’s the logical thing to do when you’re trying to cope with their unexpected departure.

CMA Awards: Entertainer of the Year (1967-2013)

November 3, 2013 // 5 Comments

Since its inception, the top honor an artist could be given at the Country Music Association awards is this one: Entertainer of the Year. Originally a revolving door of winners, the winner in early years was often not even nominated the following year. In 1981, Barbara Mandrell became the first artist to win the award twice. Alabama succeeded her with a three year run from 1982-1984. Fourteen years later, Garth Brooks became the first artist two win four times, a feat later matched by Kenny Chesney in 2008.

Here’s a look back at the award from the very beginning, along with some facts and feats about the category and its nominees.

Eddy Arnold1967

  • Bill Anderson
  • Eddy Arnold
  • Merle Haggard
  • Sonny James
  • Buck Owens

One year after being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Eddy Arnold was named the very first Entertainer of the Year at the inaugural CMA awards in 1967. Don’t assume it was a sympathy vote. Arnold had three #1 hits in the twelve months leading up to the ceremony, as he was in the middle of his impressive mid-sixties comeback, a period best defined by the 1965 classic, “Make the World Go Away.” He remains the only member of the Hall of Fame to win this award after being inducted.

Retro Single Reviews: Shania Twain, 2004-2012

April 15, 2013 // 1 Comment

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)
Peak:  #7

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.

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