Shania Twain: She’s still my girl
Emme Larkins, Staff Writer
Shania Twain’s notoriety goes beyond being a music talent and hitmaker. She’s a cultural icon to Generation Z. Just ask Harry Styles. At Coachella 2022, he credits our Canadian songstress in a tender moment for teaching him how to sing.
Gen Z youth idolize this woman. In the 90s our moms partied with Twain blasting on their boombox, hummed her tunes while we were in utero and walked off the baby weight on treadmills with “Come on Over” spinning on the CD player. We’ve contentedly listened along since we were in playpens.
I know that I, like Harry, felt a connection to her music from childhood. And the reaction at Coachella when she joined Styles on stage shows that we are not alone in our love for this music legend. People freaked out.
It’s no surprise Twain has once again reclaimed her rightful title of Pop Culture Queen in recent years. Post Malone, Taylor Swift, Diplo, Orville Peck – in addition to Styles, are just a few of the current pop stars who idolize Twain.
Given our love for the lady, it’s no surprise that Twain took her time in a newly lit spotlight to release a new project… or three. Not Just A Girl is the title of Twain’s summer 2022 Netflix documentary, single and album.
As a staunch fan who could belt “You’re Still The One” by age four, this package just didn’t seem to live up to the hype. In fact, it has left me feeling a little sad for what could have been.
“Let’s go girls” is the most iconic line from Twain’s entire songbook. And yet … “I’m not just a girl” and “Let’s go girls!” send two distinctly different messages. One of Twain’s draws from the beginning was that she felt like a friend, a mentor, who didn’t apologize for being “just a girl,” Twain revelled in it.
Yet here in the second peak of her career, she’s telling us that isn’t the case anymore?
Once we get past the disappointing title and song lyric, there is still much to dissect, starting with the Netflix documentary. While enjoyable, there was nothing spectacular, jaw-dropping or awe-inspiring to it. The production seemed shallow from the second the opening credits rolled.
Reflecting back to when Katy Perry released the documentary, Part of Me, I recall a reviewer saying that the show was definitely “just a part” of Perry. I finished Not Just A Girl feeling the same. I understand that an artist’s entire life can not fit into a 90-minute flick, but it felt like the messy bits were glossed over.
When I’m getting a peek inside someone else’s life, I want vulnerability, not bravado.
The documentary skims quickly over her heart-wrenching divorce, a scary battle with Lyme disease and her struggle balancing being a mom and superstar.
Showing the vulnerable side, while not dwelling on victimhood, would have been a strong juxtaposition to her unimaginable strength in overcoming these obstacles. Without the relativity of the lows, the highs didn’t seem to be as big of a deal as they should have been.
And maybe that’s why the documentary doesn’t do justice to Twain’s massive achievements.
In fact, “Man, I Feel Like A Woman” – the song that spawned the catchphrase that is known around the world, was barely mentioned, almost covered up. This surprised me.
Frankly, it felt like she was given some bad PR advice to try and rewrite her place in the history books.
The album was equally disappointing. When I greedily dug into Spotify the morning of its release, I found the new single – which is just ok – and 17 tracks of literally nothing new. Don’t get me wrong, I know and I love these songs but they didn’t even bother to remaster them. These iconic tunes could have given new life by having Twain duet with the brightest lights on today’s charts.
The whole package ended, feeling lazy and opportunistic.
My final thoughts on this summer 2022 repackaging of the legend that is Shania Twain? Someone did our heroine dirty. And frankly, when I watch her social media, I think Twain might feel the same. In a recent TikTok, she comments on all the pieces of her life that didn’t make the Netflix cut.
Negative reviews aside, Twain came out at the Toronto Boots and Hearts festival as she did at Coachella, looking like the legend we’ve come to expect. If anything, the good bits from Not Just a Girl show that she deserves more credit than she has ever been given.
Here’s hoping the actual new music Twain promised is less rushed and more true to the Shania we know and love.