I am going to open this by defending myself. Shania Twain has made some good albums. Yes, I know that don’t impress you much. After all, every music writer’s favourite defensive tactic is to wave a hand towards the obscure early albums and say, “Oh, I prefer the old stuff,” as if ‘popularity’ were a musical degenerative disease.
It’s pretty hard to justify my love for an artist whose main contribution to pop has been to provide a soundtrack for raucous hen nights (not to mention a good few stag nights) with the karaoke classic ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman’. And (yes, the criticisms pile up) it’s never a good idea to marry your producer, as it’ll inevitably introduce married politics into a zone which is already a minefield of conflicting interests. Shania did, and the result is that her most popular albums suffer from a deadening hyper-production. But as I said, Shania Twain has more in her back catalogue than commercialised pop. The Woman in Me is a great album of rocky country music, and it’s not short of fun tracks – listen to the jaunty piano of ‘Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?’ or the funky violins of ‘If It Don’t Take Two’ for confirmation.
She’s also made several hard rock tracks, however much she wishes she could erase them from history – they’re collected together on the 2000 release For the Love of Him. Think Bon Jovi B-sides sung with surprising gusto. Still not impressed?
To be honest, you’re probably right. My love for Shania was a product of Top of the Pops 2 imposed on a ten-year-old’s complete lack of musical knowledge, so maybe it’s best to leave her where she belongs: on the cheese floor at Park End.