Shania Twain on country music: ‘We have too much of the sameness right now’

Shania Twain performing on the Today Show

Since I’m a ‘90s Girl, I have very clear memories of Shania Twain’s rise to power. Shania was a country artist, of course, but then she was one of the women who really took country twangin’ mainstream. Shania was one of the biggest crossover artists ever, in the history of country music. Almost like the proto-Taylor Swift, if you will. Back then, we had Shania and Faith Hill, and then in the late ‘90s, the Dixie Chicks had a huge amount of crossover cred. But who are the country-pop crossover artists today? Who are the biggest female names in country now? I would say Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Jennifer Nettles and… ?? While Carrie has had some crossover success, it does feel like there are only a handful of big-name women in country right now, and while they’re successful, none of them are really mirroring the Shania’s path. Shania has noticed too. She sat down with E! News to talk about the state of women in country music these days:

When asked about “women in country music today.” “What women?!” Shania continued to explain how disappointed she is that there are “too few” women in it. Female presence on the radio is a whole other can of worms, too. “We are not making radio progress, but we are making very small, steady steps towards awareness that we’re lacking women on country radio.”

A return to Real Country. “We have too much of the sameness right now. I’m a little bit bored of it, and I want to pick it up. The only way to do that is to be proactive. I wanted a show that, when you talk about diversity, that includes gender diversity, style diversity, lifestyle diversity.” She’s also “fed up with the ageist and sexist thing” when it comes to limits on helping talent break into the scene.

In her day: “When I first came on the scene in country music, the limits were way too narrow for me, and it was hard for me. There are a lot of artists out there who are intimidated of what they believe country music is…I want to show them there are no limits.” For any women out there wanting to get her foot in the door, the “Any Man of Mine” artist is all ears. She heeded, “I want to know who you are and I want to help you. I want to give you an opportunity.”

[From E! News]

While I’ve never been into country music, I respect Shania for trying to fight for the soul of country. It does seem like the country music scene has been overrun by the Bro Country types, the toxically masculine dudes who can only sing about redneck sh-t and getting drunk. While that definitely has a place in country music, the biggest country stars have always been the women, historically. And sometimes it feels like these music genres are going backwards, which is what Shania is talking about.

Shania Twain performs on the 'Today' show

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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26 Responses to “Shania Twain on country music: ‘We have too much of the sameness right now’”

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  1. Rapunzel says:

    She’s unrecognizable. What happened to her face?

    She’s dead on about country music though. It’s so dudebro and generic sounding.

  2. TurkeyLurkey says:

    I guess she thinks women belong in country music, but not in the white house. Said if she could have, she would have voted for Trump. Bye Shania.

    • Tate says:

      Yep. 👋🏻

    • BrutalEthyl says:

      And here’s a huge problem, not just in country music but in America. What does a person’s politics have to do with their music? Unless an artist is advocating for the overthrow of the country, I don’t care what their politics are. I just want to hear good music.

  3. Anna says:

    She kind of look like Kelly Clarkson-ish.

  4. Ellie says:

    Some of my favorite songs are country songs, and that’s hard for me to admit because I’m Black and was raised in the South where country music was often what certain nasty groups claimed as their anthem–although many country artists hated those associations. Dolly Parton’s “Hear You Come Again,” “Silver Sparrow,” and “Jolene” are masterpieces. Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The Dixie Chicks’ “Travelin Soldier.” Reba McEntire’s “Does He Love You.” They were some great songs and so many from women. I hope Shania brings some great artists to the forefront!

    The “sameness” problem isn’t just happening in American country. I hear it in all American music. I know there are some brilliant exceptions, but, in general, when I listen to the lyrics and melodies from American music in ’40s & ’50s jazz, ’60s & ’70s soul, ’80s pop & R&B, or ’90s alt rock & grunge…I feel like today’s stuff just pales. So much of it seems so superficial, so jaded, and just lacking any true vulnerability.

    • Alarmjaguar says:

      Amen!

      I used to listen to country a lot, esp in the 70s and then early 90s. It was fun, but it could also be really cutting. And I was just thinking about this the other day after listening to Dolly from the Dumpling soundtrack. She and others (esp Johnny Cash) used to sing about really radical issues, esp poverty. Now I feel like it is all pretty cookie-cutter flags, rah rah.

    • BrutalEthyl says:

      Two words: Darius Rucker. He’s black, he’s country, and he’s amazing. So don’t say you shouldn’t admit to listening to country. Country has something for everybody when it’s done right.

      Also, your comments are right on target. Music today doesn’t have the soul, or the energy, or the uniqueness it used to have. Everything is based on “the show” and not the music. Nothing should matter but the music, but now it’s all choreographed with the light show and dancers seemingly more important than the songs. It’s sad to watch.

  5. Eric says:

    You’d think country music would have a deep treasure trove of topics to discuss right about now. Not necessarily anti-trump (because that would probably never happen), but state of the times. Divisions, social issues, etc.

    More akin to what Johnny Cash did. Dark themes plus maybe a few humorous songs.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      As in, where are the songs about “economic anxiety?”

      Beyond Johnny Cash were classics like 16 Tons but that goes back into folk genres?

    • Alarmjaguar says:

      exactly what I was trying to say, but said much better.

  6. Chisey says:

    I agree with her! It’s so frustrating that county music radio is like 5 dude songs about trucks, one Carrie Underwood song, 3 songs about about how the guy likes his girlfriend, 2 songs about how much he likes his family, one Miranda Lambert song. And this is by design! There was a scandal some years ago where some bigwig was directing stations to play fewer women artists (something like male artists are the lettuce in the salad and women artists are the cherry tomatoes). I don’t understand why the powers that be think this is a good idea. I like country music, and I really want to hear more female artists. I basically have to search for them and make a playlist, and it annoys me that it’s so hard.

    • Meghan says:

      Honestly all of Carrie’s songs sound alike. Not long ago I was listening to the country station for about an hour and heard maybe 1 song by a female artist. So now I just stick to my Sugarland Pandora station.

      I have also noticed that the rock/classic rock stations play the SAME songs every few hours. Are radio stations just giving up?

  7. SJhere says:

    Ahh, Shania. She hit it big because Mutt Lange produced her. Period. She was a beautiful young woman who happened to sing on key and looked great in her videos.
    I clearly can take her or leave her.

  8. DS9 says:

    Shania can miss me. There were a ton of women in country before she came along, doing genuinely country music. But then she shows up and there’s a push to bring in crossover country over classic country.

    She was the catalyst for the shift in country and I’m not here to listen to her behave like all this happened in a damned vacuum.

    I was listening to Pam Tillis and Patty Loveless in the car on the way here. Both artists who faded away after Shania.

    • kgeo says:

      I was young during this time, but I loved Mary Chapin Carpenter growing up, and still rock some of her songs when I’m feeling kind of dgaf.

      • DS9 says:

        Me too! The melodies and harmonies were so beautiful. I don’t really listen to country more because nothing much compares.

        I loved Trisha, Reba, Faith, a little Martina, I still listen to JoDee Messina, Wynonna and Amazon just reminded me about Lorrie Morgan which reminds me of Carlene Carter.

  9. Tiffany :) says:

    Just wanted to give a shoutout to kacey musgraves. She’s awesome and deserves more support from radio.

    Country Radio is the problem. Quality musicians are out there, but it’s a boys club and hard to get heard on radio

    • BengalCat😻 says:

      Kacey Musgraves is Goddess. I have been hearing her in Target and Barnes and Noble. My music preferences tend toward punk, but KM is amazing!! Go see her live if you can, she puts on the best show.

  10. Velma says:

    The same-ness problem is all over popular music too. Here’s a good article about it: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/01/in-music-uniformity-sells/384181/?curator=MusicREDEF

    Basically the point is that it takes a massive amount of money to launch an artist these days. So music exes make sure that the artist sounds similar to something else thst was a hit and then play it over and over and over. In TV, ads, radio, etc.
    Additionally Max Martin is pretty much writing every song, so no wonder the songs sound the same.

  11. Queen Frostine's Original Face says:

    For what it’s worth, the biggest women in country now in terms of radio airplay now are probably Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, and Carrie Underwood, but ALL of them lag behind the men. Miranda Lambert started seeing a drop off with her last solo album two years ago, and despite Sugarland’s most recent album, they really haven’t done that well, either.

    I could talk more about this, but I don’t want to bore all the non-country fans here, so I’ll stop. :P

    • Usedtobe says:

      I haven’t listened to country radio in probably 3 years. I find my country through other artists. I got so sick of the bro-douche country crap, the pop country crap and the fact that all the songs sounded the same. I have a few radio friendly artists I like: Brothers Osborne, Maren Morris, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church but otherwise I find my country elsewhere.
      And yes, Miranda’s Weight of These Wings was a beautiful album. I had never really truly listened to complete albums until that one came along and it was so underplayed it was unfortunate.
      These days besides the people above I listen to Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Cody Jinks, Jason Isbell, Colter Wall, Kacey Musgraves to just name a few. They are all more country than anything playing on the radio right now.

    • DS9 says:

      It’s a thread about country music though so bring it lol

  12. Kelly says:

    The lack of women in country music is ridiculous. I loved country music in the 90s, it was so much more diverse then. Now I only really like Carrie Underwood and Maren Morris and they really do not get the airplay of the men.