Queen of Me
The alleged queen of country pop, Shania Twain, has returned ungraciously with a collection of bland and uninspired tunes with her new album, “Queen of Me.”
Shania Twain is a Canadian-born, country-pop starlet who dominated the late ’90s with hits like “You’re Still the One” and the karaoke staple “Man! I Feel Like A Woman.” After her hits faded from the mainstream, she was still a figure in the country–pop scene. So far, nothing she made really captured audiences throughout the 2000s. She eventually contracted Lyme disease, which damaged her throat, and she had to undergo open-throat surgery in order to help save her voice. After years of physical therapy, a few residencies in Vegas and a documentary about her life, we have a new album.
If the best album is something that is mildly danceable with lyrics about never giving up and a few ballads about missing the love of your life, then this is the best album of all time. But by this logic, all of Twain’s albums are also the best. So if listeners enjoy this type of music, good for them. They are getting the same formula again and again and will never have to be worried about running out. As for listeners that want something more substantial, you are going to be disappointed.
Twain’s singing ability would be the best thing on this album, but only when she stays in her lower register. Anytime she tries to sing above her range, the vocal processing and effects on her voice become noticeable and drown out her actual ability. This is probably because of her vocal surgery not allowing her to access that register like she used to, but the mix on these tracks does not help her whatsoever.
With a career spanning thirty years, it is impressive that she has not lyrically diverged into uncharted territory. The songs she has been singing for years have been either about being a woman, looking for a man or both. And every song on this album is about being a woman, looking for a man or both. The only difference between any of Shania Twain’s songs is the beat under it, and all of them on this LP sound like they were the rejects of a Kacey Musgraves album.
The song “Number One” sounds like a ’90s one-hit-wonder. While some artists would intentionally try to create a ’90s sound in order to create an artificial sense of nostalgia, it seems as if, musically, Twain has not left 1997. “Best Friend” sounds like it was created just to inspire a trend on TikTok. And the opener, “Giddy Up!,” really shoves it down the listener’s throat that it is, in fact, a country song. The song “Last Day of Summer” opens with, “You think I’m smart / ‘Cause I can name the planets all by heart.” There is no mention that the narrator in the song is a child, so one has to infer that 57-year-old Shania Twain is bragging that she knows the solar system.
When listening to country music, there are two sides to the genre. There are genuine, heartfelt songs that are brutally honest and equally beautiful. The older works of John Denver and Dolly Parton, and even the newer acts like Adeem the Artist and Faye Webster, make country music that is engaging, thoughtful and entertaining. The other side of country music is bland, manufactured, and worst of all — generic. Shania Twain’s “Queen of Me” is the latter. It is the theme of a bachelorette party in Nashville and as watered-down as an overpriced Jack and Coke from a bar on Nashville’s Broadway.
This album was not made for country music fans, nor for pop fans, and quite frankly, this album doesn’t know who it was made for. There are albums that are unique for their badness, but this LP doesn’t even have that slant. It is painfully boring and jarringly mediocre, and that is this album’s greatest sin. At this point, just give the title of “Queen of Country Pop” to Taylor Swift.