Why Shania Twain Needs to Release a New Album ASAP
By Annie Reuter
November 13, 2014
It has been 12 years since we’ve heard new music from Shania Twain. It’s about time to hear some more.
For much of the 1990s and early ’00s, Twain was a regular on the country charts. But in the years since, the country landscape has drastically changed. Gone from the radio are many of the female artists who, along with Twain, were staples in the ’90s, including Reba, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride.
Instead, the ‘bros’ are in abundance.
The lack of women on country radio has been discussed at great lengths and no one has the answer. Do listeners just gravitate more to songs by guys about drinking and partying? Are there not enough women in power at radio stations to play the females? There is no proof other than the charts that show women aren’t constantly being spun on the airwaves. The women fared much better in 1995 when Shania had released The Woman In Me than they do in 2014. In ’95, five female artists reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. In 1996 it was even better. Of the 28 singles topping the Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart, 12 were from women.
This year, by contrast, there’s been only one song on that same chart by women, the Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood duet “Somethin’ Bad.” It’s the only single by female artists to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2014 so far. (Lambert also topped the Mediabase country singles chart for radio airplay with “Automatic.”)
Don’t get me wrong, I love the guys on the radio right now. But there is a huge lack in the ladies and no one knows why. Trailblazers like Loretta Lynn paved the way for females like Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark to talk about more taboo topics in country music as seen in Lynn’s “The Pill” and Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow,” which was co-written with Clark and Shane McAnally, but the radio rarely plays these songs. As a result, today’s country radio has so few women to help continue the discussion.
So how does Twain come into the mix?
Twain’s star power precedes her. Much like recent moves by Taylor Swift, Shania’s music has crossed genre lines; something Reba, Faith, Martina and Trisha never managed to do. Not to mention that Twain’s 1997 release Come On Over became the best-selling country music album of all time—even besting Garth Brooks—and the best-selling studio album by any female act, making her the top-selling female artist of her time in the history of country music. Swift is the only female country artist to come close in the digital age amounting $110 million in music sales with Twain clocking in at $80 million.
Because of her success, Twain has tremendous potential to bring focus back to topics that resonate with female country listeners, as she did when she was country’s reigning queen. Artists like Miranda Lambert, Musgraves and Clark are opening the door with songs about self-acceptance and equality for all genders, but it’s Twain’s star-power that has the ability to break down that door.
In the ‘90s, Twain rallied for female empowerment. Songs like “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face,” “If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask!” off Up! as well as “Come On Over” and “(If You’re Not In It for Love) I’m Outta Here!” from Come On Over showcased deeper messages within the lyrics that give the woman the power in the song. She’s not just a pretty girl in blue jeans in a truck sitting in the passenger seat, she’s telling us all to be ourselves, make a plan and go for it.
On “Any Man of Mine,” the second single off The Woman In Me, Twain stresses the importance of her men needing to “walk the line” and asserts that she won’t put up with the mediocre. “Any man of mine better be proud of me/ Even when I’m ugly he still better love me/ And I can be late for a date, that’s fine/ But he better be on time,” she sings at the song’s start.
The popularity of “Any Man of Mine” helped propel her album to the top of the country charts, and it even was played on pop radio, crossing over to eventually reach No. 31 on pop’s Top 40 chart. In turn, her album The Woman In Me went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide and go 12x platinum in the U.S.
While Twain certainly set a mark with the success of The Woman In Me, it was only the beginning. Her follow-up, 1997's Come On Over, went on to sell an astounding 40 million copies worldwide and spent 50 non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
So if you ever have doubt about Twain’s impact, there’s your proof.
What might a new Shania Twain album sound like without her ex-husband Mutt Lange at the helm? Twain has proved she’s a force to reckon with during her Las Vegas residency, which ends this December, and that she still has a huge fan base with nearly 700,000 people having already seen her show. Artists like Selena Gomez have even raved about her music and attended her Vegas show, which has amassed over $40 million.
Twain has already started the album process, allegedly without Lange. She announced that her confidence from her time onstage during her Vegas residency is making its way into her music. She says she wants to “really dive in there and expose my songwriting for the first time after a long time to my peers, and have to sit there and get the feedback and be brave enough to do that.”
By diving into her own songwriting without Lange, the power is all in Twain’s hands.
The heart of country music is in its storytelling and honesty. Twain has already revealed her life story in her autobiography From This Moment On in 2011, no doubt giving her plenty of inspiration to a bevy of songs including topics on her difficult childhood, her parents’ sudden death and its painful aftermath, as well as the betrayal between her husband and a friend which ended her marriage. She also wrote the majority of songs off her last three albums, and we all know there is a lot more to tell from her recent years with finding love again, ironically with her best friend’s now ex-husband Frédéric Thiébaud, finally getting back onstage with her Las Vegas residency and plans to head back out on the road.
And what woman doesn’t want to hear Twain singing to her on the radio, playing real songs of love lost and love found? Twain is the living example of a life filled with ups and downs from an unfaithful spouse to losing her path before finding it again, something country radio will embrace. Maybe then, the doors for more female voices on country radio will widen.