Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, "Up!"

2oo3 | #12

The title track and second single of Shania Twain's Up! album is arguably the finest and fullest realization of Twain's signature positivity.  It also perfectly exemplifies the sheer brilliance of the strategy behind the Up! album.

With Shania Twain having found a whole new worldwide audience thanks to the crossover success of Come On Over, she found an ingenious way to placate both her pop and country music fan bases with her subsequent album release.  Each song on the album was recorded in three different versions – country, pop and East Asian rhythm.  Thanks to that solution, Twain was freed of the need to carefully toe the line between musical styles.  Instead, the pop versions could be even more pop than the songs on Come On Over had been, while Twain likewise had the freedom to fully amp up the twang factor on the country versions.

“Up!” is a charming song in any form, but by all rights, the country version spanks the others.  The energetic banjo picking adds a whole new layer of personality to the tune as it mixes deliciously with the pulsing pop beat.  Regardless, it's ultimately Twain's uninhibited performance that makes the record soar, as she delivers the hook of “Up!  Up!  Up!  There's no way but up from here” with ferocious conviction as well as infectious spunk and charmisma.

While the lyrics are simple, the magic lies in the fact that the melody and performance carry just the right “spark” to bring the song fully to life.  It's not so much about the words themselves as it is about the feeling created by the composite product, such that the spirit of the song goes so far as to transcend the song itself.  That makes “Up!” one of those rare instances in which seemingly rudimentary ingredients combine with just the right musical chemistry to create something truly memorable and special.

Written by Shania Twain and Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Grade:  A

Next:  Ka-Ching!

Previous:  I'm Gonna Getcha Good!



  1. I agree that this tune is catchy and positive. It’s one of my favorites from Shania, which is crazy considering I don’t care much for this album compared to the previous two. This song just makes me feel good.

    Always makes me happy when Ben likes something — he’s so strict!

  2. “Up” demonstrates my problem with the UP album in general – weak and poorly written lyrics. In general, the album has the dumbest songs Shania and Mutt ever came up with.

    I love pieces of this song (energy and production) but stop dead in my tracks (and cringe) when I hear “Even my skin is acting weird/I wish that I could grow a beard.” Memorable yes, but such a bad, bad line.

    If only the concept wasn’t so juvenile, I may like this more. After all the sound of this song is so darn intoxicating.

  3. @Jonathan: She obviously wants to grow a beard to hide a zit or acne. Shania is resourceful after all so the lyric makes perfect sense to me! :P

  4. I have to agree with Jonathan more than Ben here. I didn’t care much for the UP album in general, and I detested the first 4 or 5 singles. I did kinda like “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing” and album track “I Ain’t Goin’ Down”. I’ll always remember UP as the place where Shania Twain jumped the shark. It’s a shame too.

  5. I remember first hearing “I Ain’t Going Down” on the TV special with Alison Krauss and wondering what CD that was on. Imagine my shock when I found it on the UP album. The only truly great moment on the whole CD.

    Two other songs on the UP album I also really enjoy are “Nah” and ” Forever and For Always.”

  6. Up! is actually my favorite Shania Twain album. I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of it somehow being a step down from her previous work. Even from a purely critical standpoint, I think it’s her most consistent project by far, and I would be hard pressed to pick out any weak tracks – which is impressive, considering it’s a hefty 19 tracks long.

    It’s stacked with great hooks and melodies from start to finish, but what really sells it for me is that it’s so closely in touch with the realities of everyday life, plus I think it contains some of the best manifestations of Twain’s infectious personality, and of her talents as an interpretive singer. My favorite tracks would probably be “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!,” “Forever and for Always,” “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing,” “Nah!,” “Ka-Ching!,” and “(Wanna Get to Know You) That Good!,” with the title track being my favorite of the whole project.

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