How Very Nineties: Women Who Can Actually Sing, Part Two

A woman who can actually sing:

Shania Twain.

Chosen because she actually can, and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it.

“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain


“Love is a Rose”


“The Woman In Me”


“Forever and For Always”



  1. I wouldn’t dispute for a second that Shania has a very good voice, and that she doesn’t get nearly the amount of credit that she deserves, if her covers of “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” and “Love Is A Rose” (bearing the past vocal imprints of, respectively, Willie Nelson and Linda Ronstadt) are any indication.

    That said, however, I don’t think that too many of her hits, most of which she writes or co-writes, really show her vocal abilities all that well; and it’s not even an argument about whether she’s “too pop” or not, which can be argued endlessly. The lyrics to stuff like “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” and “Love Gets Me Every Time” just don’t do much for me. With a voice like hers, I think she is capable of much more; and she needs to show that by writing truly mature material.

  2. “The Woman In Me” is one of my favorite albums, and a lot more Country than so much of what is on radio today. Sure wish she would come back and do more of that, but alas, if and when she does return, I would bet it would be with Underwood-style stuff. I like Carrie and her music, but a voice like Shania’s works so well with a more traditional sound. Should be room for both styles.

  3. Shania could always carry a tune with the best of them, but I never really thought of her as a top tier vocalist of the Nineties…until now. Her rendition of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain is fabulous, thanks for posting that. It seems Traditional material really brings out the character and nuance in her voice. I dont know a whole lot about her early years, except for her heroism raising her siblings after her parents were killed, and that she came up singing in clubs, but I’m unclear about what kind of material she sang back then. Listening to this performance of BECITR, it sounds as though she has been singing Tradition all her life.

    I look forward to a Shania comeback and her return to the throne of Queen of Country Pop…I much prefer her brand to the current bombast that is oh so fashionable nowadays. If it has to be Pop that predominates, at least let it be Shania!

  4. Give me Shania any day than that head slinging banchee hen that can’t sing and making millions and winning awards she doesn’t deserve. I’ve never disliked an artist as much as the one I’m talking about. I love everything Shania did.

  5. I would actually point to Shania as an example of someone writing/recording exactly the right kind of material for her voice. A lot of people could sing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” as good as or better than she does in that clip (not that it’s not a good one), but few can deliver quirky, upbeat material like she does.

  6. I agree Dan, that a lot of people could sing BECITR as well or better than Shania, (though not many in the current crop, imo) and I agree with your other point as well…I was just surprised at how well she did sing the Traditonal song.

    But yeah, few can do upbeat and quirky like Shania!

  7. I will always have a soft spot for Shania. I know that she did take a lot of flak for her country-pop style, but her overall style was very diverse. The songs from “Up!” and “Come On Over” were pretty poppy, but songs from “The Woman In Me” as well as her little-heard debut album were VERY country, some even bordering on neotraditionalism. In the later years of her career, she returned to her roots with fun country shuffles like “I Ain’t No Quitter.” But even she was singing country-pop, she still did it better than most, because the production was still kept simple. It was never so bombastic that she had to struggle to be heard. I really wish Carrie Underwood, and sometimes even Miranda Lambert, would take a page out of Shania’s book and tone it down a little.

  8. I may be in the minority, but I never thought Shania had anything more than an average voice.
    Even in some of the above videos, she seems to struggle to reach beyond her somewhat limited range and relam of hits.

    That said, she does have a knack for recording songs that fit her persona and voice well- I’ve always thought her knack creating catchy, polished songs was the biggest part of her appeal; I would argue her enormous popularity has little to do with her vocals, and more with her persona as a performer, and knack for creating universally-appealing pop songs.

  9. Kevin,
    That’s how I’d describe her voice too. I like her voice and she can obviously carry a tune, which is better than we’re getting from some female singers these days. As others have said, she does well with choosing songs that fit her range.

  10. Interesting choice.

    I’ve never thought of her as having a strong voice, perhaps because she tours so infrequently. That’s usually a sign that studio technicians are helping out a lot.

  11. In some ways, I’m inclined to believe that Shania has had to tailor a lot of her songs, at least those that got released as hits and videos, to country radio; and while that may have been a good thing financially, I think it has stifled a fair amount of her creative and vocal potential. Whether she does pop-oriented stuff or neo-traditional material, the whole crux of the matter is that it’s got to be real. If Shania does mount a comeback, and manages to balance the demands of country radio with her own personal sensibilities (admittedly not an easy thing to do), you could be looking at a 25-30 year career (IMHO).

  12. I’ll be fascinated to see what and how she does without Mutt. There’s no doubt that she can write, but I don’t know where she’s going to find another producer as ingenious. I’ll be disappointed if she turns to a Nashville standby and starts sounding exactly everyone else.

  13. She toured heavily in support of her first album, and did world tours for albums three and four. She got the reputation for not touring because she didn’t go out in support of The Woman In Me, which fueled rumors that she was a studio creation.

    She doesn’t do the normal never-ending country tour. She follows the “release an album then do a big tour in support of it” model that’s used in pop and rock.

  14. I think it was smart of her not to tour for The Woamn In Me. First of all she didn’t have to cause it was selling so well and it gave her more time to record Come On Over. I’m suprised more artists didn’t do what she did and not have a tour for every album.

  15. Here’s her voice in about as raw a form as you can get it, at Fan Fair in 1996, recorded by a fan with a handheld camera:

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Part 3:

    Part 4:

    No digital trickery there. She had decent range and power in her prime. Not great, but decent. But from browsing youtube vids of her live performances, it seems her voice started to go downhill at some point after the Up! tour began in late 2003. By the time she recorded I Ain’t No Quitter in 2004, her voice had deteriorated to the point of being unrecognizable.

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