Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Shania Twain, “No One Needs to Know”

“No One Needs to Know

Shania Twain

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Billboard

#1 (1 week)

July 13, 1996

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

July 5, 1996

Shania Twain matches a Rosanne Cash record with her fourth No. 1 single.

The Road to No. 1

The Woman in Me continued its dominant run at radio, with all of its top ten hits going the full distance.  “No One Needs to Know” is the third consecutive No. 1 hit from the album and the fourth overall.

The No. 1

Witty, self-deprecating, and deliriously in love.

“No One Needs to Know” is all about keeping secrets, planning a fantasy future with a man without his knowledge – “I got my heart set, my feet wet, and he don’t even know yet.”

These plans are detailed, y’all:  “We’ll have a little girl, a little boy, a little Benji we call Leroy.”

Twain’s winning vocal performance floats like cotton candy over an acoustic arrangement that lacks any of the bombast of her previous three No. 1 singles, with funky harmonica taking the place of arena rock drums.

The entire album was such a breath of fresh air at the time, and this is its breeziest moment.

The Road From No. 1

Radio’s disinterest in the ballads from The Woman in Me continued, as seventh single “Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore),” one of her best-written songs, only went top thirty.  A revised and extended version of “God Bless the Child,” available only on cassette and CD single, served as the pseudo-eighth single, a record at the time that she would more definitively break with her next album.

Speaking of records, The Woman in Me was also the second country album by a woman to produce four No. 1 hits, following Rosanne Cash’s King’s Record Shop.  (Cash’s batting average from 1988-1989 was stronger overall.  All four singles from her album, along with two additional singles, all went to No. 1.)  When we see Twain again in 1997, it will be with her longest-running No. 1 hit, which previewed the all-time best-selling country album and the all-time best-selling female album from any genre.

“No One Needs to Know” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Ricochet, “Daddy’s Money”

6 Comments

  1. By 1996, I was fully invested in alt-country and had a more limited range of mainstream acts who held my full attention. So I appreciated Shania’s first few hits– and even the singles from her debut album– in terms of their craft, even if I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to them.

    “No One Needs to Know” was the first of Shania’s singles that I *loved*. To this day, I’ll go to bat for it as her finest moment on record, though my appreciation for her singular perspective and song craft have certainly deepened over time. But it’s a marvel of construction, elevated by the light-handed arrangement and a melody that takes flight– that lapse into her falsetto range in the chorus is everything– in unexpected ways. It may not be her most impactful single, but it belongs in any conversation about the best country singles of the 90s, and that’s really saying something.

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  2. Not that it necessarily matters, but “No One Needs To Know” was also on the soundtrack of the 1996 film TWISTER (which was a big box office smash that summer); so it’s kind of a bonus for Shania.

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    • Funny enough, that was actually how I came to own this single for the first time: I’d purchased the Twister soundtrack for Tori Amos’ “Talula (BT’s Tornado Mix),” which was quite different from the original version on her Boys for Pele album. Still the best pop single built around a harpsichord.

  3. Johnathan, I couldn’t agree any more with your second paragraph!

    This is also, hands down, my favorite of the The Woman In Me singles, and I also consider it to be one of the finest songs that she’s ever written and recorded. I just love everything about it from the joyful catchy melody, Shania’s fun performance, the laid back acoustic arrangement, the harmonica and steel, the harmony vocals, and several witty lines that still make me smile today. I especially always loved her playful delivery when she repeats the opening line near the end of the song. The way her vocals and the harmony vocals blend together when she sings “but boy, have I been hit by a cupid!” at that moment always puts a big smile on my face! I also love the harmonizing at the very end as she’s singing the last “No one needs to know right nooooow” as the steel guitar wraps the entire thing up nicely. It’s just heaven to my ears. And yes, her falsetto singing in each chorus is absolutely everything! Plus, I love the gentle low notes of the electric guitar. I actually still get chills from hearing those parts of the song from time to time. Like I said, everything about this song just fills my heart with joy, and takes me back to great times in my life, to boot!

    This also may be my very favorite video she’s done, as well. I was absolutely obsessed with the movie Twister and tornadoes in general in 1996 and the rest of the 90’s, so this video has always been right up my alley! I loved that movie so much that both my dad and step dad each surprised me with a VHS copy of it for Christmas that year, and I ended up with two copies, lol (my dad also got me the TV movie that came out the same year, Night Of The Twisters, starring Devon Sawa and John Schneider). Anyway, I love how the front porch setting at the start matches the simple laid back feel of the song, and even when they decide to take it indoors, the inside of the house itself also provides a nice cozy and inviting atmosphere. Well, that is until everything starts flying everywhere as the tornado gets closer, lol.

    Luckily, the first time I heard this song on the radio while in the car with my dad in the Summer of ’96, it was not a stormy day, but it was a clear evening with a beautiful sunset, which went perfectly with the breezy, cheerful feel of the song. Even when it seemed like Shania was coming out with a new song every time we turned around, I recognized this as one I’d never heard before, and I remember telling my dad that it must’ve been her latest one. The more I heard it, the more I loved it, especially those falsetto parts. :) It was also one of my dad’s favorites for him to sing along to whenever it came on. This was actually around the time that he got a cassette copy of The Woman In Me while we were at the mall one day.

    This song also has the distinct honor of being one of those that I’ve never once gotten tired of no matter how many times I’ve heard it. In fact, it’s only made me appreciate it all the much more with each listen.

    For the longest time, I didn’t even know “Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is” was a single. I don’t even recall hearing it on the radio, which is very surprising given how red hot she was at the time. I only remember hearing it when my dad let me borrow his copy of The Woman In Me. It’s definitely another one of my biggest favorites from her, though, and it’s a shame that radio wasn’t as kind to her ballads yet at that time.

    Btw, I love the single cover for this one!

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  4. Agreed with both Jonathan and Jamie in that this might be her finest recording.

    I know that she will show up on this feature with some massive country and crossover hits in the next few years, but this is the song of her catalog I always come back to.

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  5. I will pile on here and share that this is also easily my favourite Shania Twain song for all the reasons mentioned. It is a joyful jam and another nineties classic. Had she mined this sonic vein deeper and longer I wouldn’t have complained, but then she wouldn’t have changed the genre as she did.

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