I Need a Shania Twain Comeback Album or I Will Die
Why we need Shania to resume her reign as Queen of country music.
I need a new Shania Twain album in 2014 or I'm going to die. This year—the year that country music becomes a major part of popular zeitgeist again—this is the year that I need Shania to stage her comeback. I need her to pull a Beyoncé and release a brand new album like, yesterday. Am I really supposed to believe that the spunky, sassy Shania of the 90s is going to let a love affair between her best friend and husband keep her down FOREVER?? It's been over a decade since she released a new record, that's more than enough time to be heartbroken, lose your voice, take that cheating slut's ex-husband for some comfort-revenge and reemerge as a pop country Phoenix rising from the ashes. Wait, are you unfamiliar with some of the events in the life of Canada’s hugest country music star? Let me back up for you.
This is the woman who simultaneously released three version of her last album so she could stunt on three different markets. This is a woman who uses exclamation points in songs and they still go multi-fucking-crystal-platinum diamond—whichever is the highest anymore. But, in case you didn’t know, this is also a woman who built her career in a loving partnership with producer Robert “Mutt” Lange. Lange was no slouch, before he met Shania he had producing credits for the likes of AC/DC, Def Leppard, Foreigner and Bryan Adams. They met in the summer of 1993 and six months later they were married—you do the love math there. Mutt produced all of her subsequent albums and helped form the foundation for Shania’s sound, so when he left her after 14 years of wedded and professional bliss for her “best friend” Marie-Ann Thiebaud, our leading lady was clearly devastated. Seriously Shania, how could trust any woman with a name that atrocious and pretentious?
But if you really want me to believe that she's not nursing her hurt into an awesome awe-inspiring vengeful album called REBORN or RISE AGAIN or even Renewal! then you’re badly mistaken. To quote her own words "Nah!" (I know you think that phrase is original and “of the moment” but Queen Shania had a whole song using it as a diss back in 2002). Post-divorce, Shania lost her voice and married Marie-Ann’s own ex-husband, then subsequently got her voice back, piddled through American Idol appearances, and finally locked down a Vegas residency. That residency began in December of 2012 and is scheduled to end in 2014. So it’s Shania’s duty to prove that one cheating husband and awful, bitchy betraying best friend can’t keep the woman in her down. We need that stellar comeback record to drop in 2014.
For female country divas it's the norm to have careers that extend well past the mere ten to fifteen years that most pop stars get. Shania is 48-going-on-28 so there's literally nothing to stop her from usurping Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert all in one fell swoop. She is one of the most beautiful women on earth even at close to fifty—it’s just a scientific fact. No, literally scientists proved that Shania’s face is just about as close to the golden ratio as a human being has come. Even though Taylor's superstardom and breakout of the country genre seem to mimic Shania, Swift has never even gotten close to smelling Shania's sales numbers! For those who believe that numbers certify an artist's fingerprints on a genre, let's examine some of Shania's stats.
She's sold over 80 million albums, making her one of the highest selling artist of all time—the 10th highest to be exact. Come On Over is the best-selling studio album by a female act in ALL OF TIME. She’s had three consecutive albums that went diamond and is the only female artist to have achieved that so far in civilization. Even though she hasn’t put out a record for twelve years, she’s still the top-selling female country artist too. Speaking of historical precedents, she anticipated the dissolution of genre and region specific sounds by releasing Up! all the way back in 2002 in three different formats—country/acoustic, pop/rock and world/international (to be fair, the world “blue mixes” feature Simon and Diamond Duggal, a pair of brother producers who inspired Shania and Mutt to release a whole mix inspired by Eastern themes). This, of course, was a wildly successful idea and ensured that Up! alone sold 20 million copies internationally and is certified 11x Platinum—no one is even sure what that means but it is definitely an honour.
But Up! came out 12 years ago, and in the decade that's passed, country music has gained an even bigger market share than it ever had before. Rolling Stone announced they’re opening a country-centric publication in Nashville this year and urban-haven New York City got it’s first country radio station in 17 years when Cumulus Media opened Nash FM in January of 2013. If you need further proof that country music is going metropolitan, Nielsen found that the biggest market for country records in 2012 was NYC itself. Cumulus has also indicated it plans to launch a magazine dedicated to covering the genre. With artists like Florida Georgia Line breaking all-time digital sales records in the genre, and artists like Eric Church and Luke Bryan garnering coverage from mainstream press—country shit is popping. But it’s the “bro-country” that’s getting radio play and hitting all the high notes of commercial success, while Shania’s track record suggests that she could be the female artist to buck that trend.
Shania can you hear me? Do you think I'm kidding? Remember when you lost your voice after your best friend and your husband cheated on you together collectively and you couldn't sing and went on this desperate search to find meaning again? Remember how existence felt like a gaping wound that couldn't be relieved with any medical assistance whatsoever, except maybe an ambien cocktail? Well that's how I feel while I watch country music become a talking point without you as one of the major topics on deck. The way you felt without Mutt is how I feel without new music from you. Especially now that country music is rapidly achieving a modicum of cool points that make my middle school self gleeful with “I told you so” haughtiness.
Shania forever changed the game by subverting the male-gaze and turning it into the “Shania-gaze.” Songs like “No One Needs to Know” and “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” displayed an almost predatory way of planning and hunting down the men who should and would love her. I love Beyoncé’s “I woke up like dis” without question, but “even when I’m ugly he still better love me” from “Any Man of Mine” is both more realistic and more demanding of her man—down for both. This was exactly the kind of aggressive, self-confident role model that girls like a young Taylor Swift needed!
But if Shania doesn’t out-T-Swift Taylor Swift by writing a breakup song that side eyes both her ex-bff and husband into smithereens then my whole life might be meaningless. Even if Shania is over the fact that she lost Mutt as her lover, but is still tripping that she lost him as a producer, we need to tell her about Miley’s transformation. A lack of a producer is one reason she keeps citing for not putting out a new album, so I think we need to let her know about Mike Will Made It. Or Pharrell. Or Dr. Luke. Or anyone! I just watched a documentary that highlighted Young Chop and he seems totally down for whatever. Producers are the new pop stars these days, I swear we can find her a good one. There's also this guy Ariel Rechtshaid who practically forced us all to listen to a terrible hamfisted trio named Haim and a drugged Sky Ferreira all last year. He rescued both of them from awful prior projects so he could definitely be the one to restore Shania to her platinum diamond throne of internationally acclaimed pop country glory. If she wanted to make a super depressing album, Rechtshaid would probably be totally down too, because Haim’s album was the sonic equivalent of crying into your pillow until you fell asleep. She could even call it Down! and I wouldn’t bat an eye.
For those of you who don't share this Shania-obsession, remember last year how Rhianna didn't put out an album and the world felt like an endless vacuum of wasted days, hours and minutes? Well that's how I've felt for the last TWELVE YEARS without a new Shania album. There was no warning that this magic outpouring of perfectly charming, vibrantly feminist and humorous slew of songs was going to stop so abruptly. It felt like we all went through a break up too as the Shania withdrawals became more intense. I love Kacey Musgraves, Pistol Annies, Ashley Monroe—the whole new crew. But there isn't a Florida Georgia Line single in existence that a new Shania single wouldn't eviscerate like molten lava pouring from the volcanic eruption that would be new SHANIA. Nicki Minaj is clearly gearing up to release a new record this year too, why don’t we take the crossover between country and rap to the female side of things and get them on a track together?
The wary Shania fan has seen signs that she’s returning. She was on a duet with Lionel Richie back in 2012. Lucy Hale aka Aria of Pretty Little Liars namechecked her as an influence which is basically illuminati sign language that they might collaborate soon. Most importantly, she has two concerts outside of her Vegas shows lined up for this summer at Canada’s Calgary Stampede in July. Will this be where she makes the big announcement that she’s returning to her throne? That she will prove once and for all her success wasn’t just due to Mutt’s influence. Goddammmit do I need her to prove that. I need the younger generation of millennials to realize that as much as Taylor Swift deservers our love and adoration, it’s Shania who even allowed someone like Tay Tay to exist. The strength, dignity and laughter that Shania brought to country pop has never been topped—we need her back to lead a new army of female country stars to “That Don’t Impress Me Much”-levels of arrogance.
Please Shania, read this and save my life.
Caitlin White is not easily impressed. Look her Up! on Twitter @harmonicait