Tag Archives: Shania Twain

Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “When”

1998 | Peak:  #14 (Canada); #18 (U.K.)

The closest thing in Twain’s catalog to a lost hit, “When” was released as the follow up to “You’re Still the One” in the United Kingdom.  Twain even shot a video for the song, which consists mostly of her playing in traffic while dressed like an angel.

“When” has a different tone than most of Come On Over.  As the only song that deals with heartbreak, it’s thematically different from the rest of the set.   The lyrics are just tongue-in-cheek enough to keep her away from self-pity territory, and the melody of the chorus pushes her to one of her best vocal performances.

Because it came before the very big pop hits in the U.K. and after all of them in Canada, “When” has the added bonus of being a Come On Over hit that didn’t suffer from overexposure, making it sound fresher than its counterparts today.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade: B+

Next: Honey, I’m Home

Previous: From This Moment On (with Bryan White)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH7VoJJh84k&ob=av2e

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “From This Moment On” (with Bryan White)

1998 | Peak: #6

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Bryan White was Shania Twain’s first choice for duet partner, and the A-list pairing kept “From This Moment On” on the charts long before it was officially released as a single.

Interestingly, it’s a better showcase for White in its duet form, who turns in some signature licks and makes Twain seem a bit bland in comparison.  However, it also gives the song a bit of a mid-eighties Peter Cetera vibe, which hasn’t held up well over time.

Grade:  B

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elF-CCZIGrs

Pop Version:

1998 |  Peak:  #4 (U.S.); #9 (U.K.); #2 (Australia)

Twain revamped the single for release in the pop market, replacing White’s lines with her own voice and turning it into a potent solo number.  The addition of a Spanish-flavored guitar that borrowed heavily from “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman”  gave the ballad added oomph, transforming it into a wedding staple across the world.

Grade: A-

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-Lp2uC_1lg&ob=av2e

Next: When

Previous: You’re Still the One

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “You’re Still the One”

1998 | #1

As the story goes, “You’re Still the One” was inspired by media speculation that Shania Twain’s marriage to Robert John “Mutt” Lange would not last.  Twain and Lange decided to respond to the criticism in song.  The result was a song that would become a monster crossover hit, a staple for weddings and anniversaries for years to come, an instant standard of nineties country and pop music, and one of the songs that would go on to define Twain’s unique and outstanding career.

The song was remixed into a massive international pop hit, and was a major factor in powering the Come On Over album to such staggering sales numbers.  Still, the song is best heard in its original country form for one simple reason:  Any song celebrating an enduring relationship deserves steel guitar backing.

Like many a classic country song, “You’re Still the One” utilizes simple and straightforward lyrics to tap into varying emotions.  “You’re Still the One” is a song of joy, triumph, satisfaction, and most of all, a celebration of endless love.  Though it’s likely a song of personal nature to Twain, it’s constructed in a way that allows any couple to hear the song as their own story set to music.

It’s Twain’s performance, however, that lifts the song into the heavens.  Twain was never known for being a powerhouse vocalist like contemporaries such as Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, and Faith Hill (and was even dismissed as a sub-par vocalist by some detractors).  But “You’re Still the One” demonstrates the fact that Twain brought her own unique set of gifts as a vocalist.  She invests deep shades of emotions into her lower register throughout her hushed delivery of the opening verses.  Two choruses and one steel guitar solo later, she lets her voice rise as if releasing every ounce of the deep love and triumph that was previously conveyed understatedly.  Such a layered dynamic rendering is a fine example of Twain’s formidable, yet often overlooked skills as a vocal interpreter, as well as a testament to everything she got right as a songwriter and vocalist.

Sadly, Twain and Lange’s marriage eventually did dissolve a decade later.  Regardless, the song’s deep impact is untempered.  “You’re Still the One” remains an anthem for any couple who has ‘beaten the odds together,’ with my own parents being one such couple.  Songs become hits, and songs fade into obscurity, but this one has been around for thirteen years, and still shows no signs of ever being forgotten.

Written by Shania Twain and Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Grade:  A

Next:  From This Moment On

Previous:  Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)

The video below features the International version of the song.  Click here to hear the country radio version.

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)”

1997 | Peak: #6

Because it was soon overshadowed by a pair of crossover ballads, “Don’t Be Stupid” is something of a Come On Over footnote in North America.

The song has a nice Celtic flavor to it, even if it showcases Twain at her silliest.  Who else would add “Max!” to the bridge’s “Relax!” the second time around?

So it isn’t one of the biggest or best country hits from the album, but it’s fairly entertaining in its original form.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade: B

International Release:

2000 | Peak:  #5 (U.K.); #32 (Australia)

At the other end of the album cycle, “Don’t Be Stupid” served as the sixth and final single in Europe and Australia. By this point, Come On Over was one of the best selling albums of all-time in both the U.K. and Australia.  Rather than release it in its international album version – which was just the U.S. remix version anyway – the song was completely reinvented.

Basically, they turned it into “Cotton Eye Joe”, making the original version a little more stupid but a lot more lovable.

Grade: B+

Next: You’re Still the One

Previous: Love Gets Me Every Time

North American Version:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP4puxOMsKg

International Version:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVvjKA22MYs&ob=av2e

 

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “Love Gets Me Every Time”

1997 | Peak: #1

The top-selling country album of all time, Come On Over, scaled those heights due to unprecedented crossover into the worldwide pop market.

Funny that it launched with an undeniably country lead single, one that couldn’t even be effectively remixed like the rest of the album.

Using the southern phrase, “Gol’ darn gone and done it”, Twain laments that she couldn’t live the single life she’d planned because love always finds her.  It’s kind of a hillbilly “Just My Luck.”

It’s dippy, but it works.  Dippy Twain songs usually do, because she’s infectious and sincere.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade: B+

Next: Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)

Previous: God Bless the Child

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FxygSMDZMk&ob=av2e

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “God Bless the Child”

1996 | #48

Gospel recordings were becoming all the rage in the nineties, particularly with female artists.

Sometimes it seemed like they just wanted a big showpiece for the CMA awards.  Dolly Parton and Pam Tillis had performed with enormous choirs behind them in 1991 and 1994, respectively.  These were, perhaps, the only times in CMA history that the demographics on stage accurately reflected greater metropolitan Nashville.

In 1996, Shania Twain debuted a revamped version of “God Bless the Child” on the show.  Originally a short a cappella number that closed her breakthrough album, Twain added several verses that touched on a wide range of social problems that impact children.

Twain’s less than powerhouse vocals work in the performance’s favor.   Her restraint keeps the song from becoming overblown.  And in turn, what could have been mawkish remains reasonably thought-provoking and pleasant to the ears.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade: B+

Next: Love Gets Me Every Time

Previous: Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVV2jtUSNd0

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore)”

1996 | #28

In the years after the release of Shania’s runaway success of an album The Woman In Me, she largely focused her creative efforts on relentlessly positive upbeat pop-country material, rarely delivering sorrowful country ballads.

But in listening to the ballads included on The Woman In Me, it’s easy to wish that Shania had offered a few more such efforts in following years.  Country heartbreak was not a style that she did often, but it was definitely something that she could do well.

“Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore),” which served as the album’s opening track, heard right before the boot-stomping chords of “Any Man of Mine” took over, is doubtlessly one of the most beautiful lyrics Shania has written.  The song presents a female narrator looking back fondly on the feelings of passion and blissful happiness that she experienced in the early stages her marital relationship, as well as the warmth and comfort of companionship.

But then she finds herself mourning over the deteriorating state of her marriage, lamenting “He may still come home, but I live here alone.  The love that built these walls is gone.”  The only hint of a happy ending comes with the narrator looking hopefully toward the future, thinking “If we could only find that feeling once again… If we could only change the way the story ends.”

The narrator is disappointed, heartbroken, desperate, and yearning, and it all comes through in Shania’s vocal delivery.  “Home” is a fine example of a major trait that made Shania Twain such an outstanding vocalist.  She was rarely one to shoot for McBride-esque power notes, yet she possessed an outstanding ability to inject deep shades of emotion into the most understated performances.  Shania begins the song in a soft, aching delivery, but her tone soon rises to a desperate plea in a true emotional knockout of a performance.

“Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is” was the first single from The Woman In Me to miss the U.S. Top 20 (though it reached #7 in Twain’s native Canada), and it’s a shame that the song is not better remembered.  It would be an understatement to say that it is a hidden gem worth seeking out in Twain’s unique and distinctive catalog.

Don’t let Shania’s pop sensibilities fool you.  This here is classic country music.

Written by Shania Twain and Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Grade:  A

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “No One Needs to Know”

1996 | #1

Over jaunty acoustic guitar strums, Shania Twain reflectively sings, “Am I dreamin’ or stupid? I think I’ve been hit by Cupid, but no one needs to know right now.”

While that first stanza reasonably acknowledges that something might be amiss, Twain matter-of-factly plows ahead to reveal all the plans that she’s been making regarding the future with the special someone that she’s found, which includes the intimate details of wedding plans, kids and even pets.

The only hitch is that she’s the only one who needs to know right now; the man whose compliance is necessary in order for the plans to materialize doesn’t even need to know now. And if such a presumptuous situation isn’t amusing enough to ponder already, the added layer of the secret fantasies being real enough to keep her from being lonely at night is surely enough to seal the deal.

Written by Twain and her former producer/husband, “Mutt” Lange, this is not a song manufactured by committee, but rather, an example of a pair of songwriters who created a delightfully quirky song that, incidentally, still sounds both refreshing and even organic today thanks to a compelling scenario and a crisp acoustic production.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade:  A

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=681Y-UQ0LWI

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “You Win My Love”

1996 | Peak: #1

What can you say about a #1 country single with the word chassis in the first verse?

This is the only song from her last three studio albums that Twain didn’t have a hand in writing.  That’s not a total surprise, as the “my love is like a car” metaphor is very “Mutt” Lange.  It could’ve been recorded by Def Leppard or Bryan Adams just as easily.

But Twain’s sheer enthusiasm elevates it, and while it was easily the most pop-flavored hit from The Woman in Me, it might be a little too country for even Brad Paisley in 2011.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Grade: B+

Listen: You Win My Love

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxIfKpsemGo&ob=av2e

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, “(If You’re Not in it For Love) I’m Outta Here!”

1995 | Peak: #1

Of historical note for two reasons.

First, it established Twain’s affection for the exclamation point, a punctuation mark that she would take to ludicrous extremes in the years to come.

Second, and far more importantly, it firmly established her point of view on relationships.  She’s really just looking for two things: respect and monogamy.

The bare midriffs and the playful videos were just the window dressing.  What Twain was really selling was a distinctively feminist point of view, permanently shifting the perspective that all female country artists would sing and write from in the years to come.

A more careful historian would tally up the number of female victim songs, pre- and post-1995, but really, just check out the catalog of Reba McEntire for a simple case study.

Thanks to this record, victim queens are outta here.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade: A

Listen: (If You’re Not in it For Love) I’m Outta Here!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX7eCmQg_k8

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