Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Shania Twain, “(If You’re Not in it For Love) I’m Outta Here!”

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

Shania Twain

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

February 3 – February 10, 1996

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

January 26 – February 2, 1996

Shania Twain’s point of view comes completely into focus.

The Road to No. 1

After enjoying her first No. 1 hit with “Any Man of Mine,” Twain released the title track from The Woman in Me, which went top fifteen.  Radio would eventually warm to her ballads, but for this album’s life cycle, only the uptempo singles performed well.  Today’s entry kicks off a string of three consecutive No. 1 hits.

The No. 1

“Any Man of Mine” established Shania’s signature sound, but it was “I’m Outta Here!” which brought her point of view completely into focus.

Comparisons to Madonna came quickly when Twain broke through, and those comparisons were apt, but not for the dismissive and casually misogynist reason given at the time: that Twain was selling sex.

What she was really doing was bypassing male gatekeepers and speaking directly to her audience, which was primarily women, with a message that flew over the heads of her male critics who were better at looking than listening.

“I’m Outta Here!” is a relentless takedown of men who would insult her intelligence and exploit her beauty with cheap lines and empty promises, and she’s talking straight to the girls as she calls bullshit on each and every one of them:

Now every woman sees, with every “pretty please”
That there’s a pair of lying eyes and a set of keys
He says, “Come be a star in the back seat of my car”
But baby slow down, you’re going way too far

Of course the production is flawless – it’s a “Mutt” Lange joint – and Twain’s vocal performance is one of her best, as she pivots from a gravelly low tone that mimics the menacing men on the make in the verses, and pivots to asserting her worth during the chorus.

But the real story here is how “I’m Outta Here!” crystallized a consistent point of view that would be present in all of her work.  Two generations earlier, Tammy Wynette had made an entire career out of one clear message to women: keep your man happy or he’ll look for love elsewhere.  From 1995 on, Twain’s message to women (and men) was this:  Give a woman respect, autonomy, and monogamy to keep her happy, or she’ll look for love elsewhere.

The Road From No. 1

While this single was at No. 1,  The Woman in Me officially became the best-selling studio album in history by a female country artist, a record it would hold until it was surpassed by Twain’s next studio album. As noted above, Twain’s next two singles will also go No. 1.

“(If You’re Not in it For Love) I’m Outta Here!” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Joe Diffie, “Bigger Than the Beatles”

1 Comment

  1. It’s as a good a time as any to reference a Brian Mansfield essay written in the June 1998 issue of Pulse! magazine, a tabloid produced by Tower Records full of record reviews, interviews, and lots of advertising. The essay is titled “Soapbox: In defense of mainstream country.” In the closing paragraph Mansfield wrote, ” Long-time country fans know about this phenomenon (it taking 20 years for country singers to be appreciated by rock audiences), and we’re grown accustomed to other people taking a couple decades to come around. So we go on our way, quietly enjoying our albums by Shania Twain, Toby Keith, Martina McBride and Mark Chesnutt. You can listen now, or you can wait till your kids buy their retrospectives and then act like you were paying attention. Trust me it’s going to happen.”

    I admit the deed! I was not paying attention to Shania Twain in 1996! I dismissed her music, but am grateful to be re-educated as to its significance and merits here.

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