I wrote this a couple weeks ago in the back of one of my notebooks while bored sitting in class and in my car waiting for my bandmates to show up at our practice space. I wish I had gotten around to posting this earlier before Miccio and Best Week Ever weighed in on it, but oh well. There's something seriously wrong with my priorities that I can crank this kind of thing out but get writer's block when it's time to do stuff for school. If I had balls I'd submit this for my essay course.
748 words on the new Shania Twain single
Shania Twain's last studio album, 2002's Up!, confronted the uneasy alliance between pop and country that she epitomises by releasing it a double format 2CD set, with the same set of songs presented in two different mixes: a "Green" (country) disc, and a "Red" (pop) disc1. For the new single off of her new Greatest Hits album2, she's taken the Red/Green concept a step further by simultaneously releasing 2 versions of the duet "Party For Two" with 2 different duet partners. The pop version features Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath3, and the country version features the relatively obscure Billy Currington. I heard the Currington version first and thought it sounded pop enough and that the only different between the versions would be the co-vocalist, but Shania's career proves, if nothing else, that there's no such thing as too pop, and the McGrath version takes it further with a pumping dance beat.
The lyrics are full of Twain/Lange's trademark flirty, thinly-veiled innuendo, including a spoken intro and everything. The couplet "it doesn't matter what you wear/'cause it's only gonna be you and me there", which is followed by a spirited "WOO!", distinctly (intentionally?) recalls "Dancing In The Street", which is appropriate considering that "Party For Two" is perhaps one of the most stilted, unenjoyable pop duets since the Jagger/Bowie version of "Dancing In The Street". The song/videos conclude with Twain saying, with the most horrifyingly unconvincing mock post-coital tone, "that was grrrreat", and her duet partner mugging to the camera and saying "let's do it again!", punctuated by a big banging two-note musical finale. Don't get me wrong, Shania4 is fine and all, but if there was such a thing as a reverse boner that's what "Party For Two" would give me.
1 Someone on ILM had the brilliant idea to lay the Red and Green mixes of Up! on top of each other, resulting in the "Brown" mixes, some of which were just amazing (especially the "Nah!" remix, which had the two vocal lines start at different points, resulting in a wonderful disorienting row-row-row-your-boat effect). The original thread is
2 It's kind of amazing that Shania is just now releasing her first Greatest Hits album, considering the regularity with which most modern country stars pump out GH's - Brooks & Dunn and Toby Keith are each just now releasing their respective 2nd best-of's, and neither of them have been around much longer than Shania.
3 Mark McGrath is kind of fascinating to me, for being so synonymous with the late 90's alterna-rock sellout era that he's got this weird kind of anti-cred going for him. He earned the grudging respect of many rockist nerds who otherwise despised him by cleaning up on Rock'n'Roll Jeopardy, and showing that he's one of them (us), although let's face it, the questions (er, answers) on that show weren't that hard, I think the average rock fan could kick ass on there. And ever since then, I've noticed McGrath being more and more eager to show off his music trivia knowledge at every opportunity, mostly VH1 list shows. It was kind of endearingly pathetic on I Love The 80's when he made a big show of knowing the names of the members of the Pretenders besides Chrissie Hynde but messed up and eagerly blurted out "James Honeyman" instead of James Honeyman-Scott. Recently, I saw a piece on some entertainment news magazine show (either Extra or Access Hollywood) about how McGrath is the new co-host of another entertainment news magazine show (again, either Extra or Access Hollywood, whichever one it wasn't the first time), and he said something about his new job like "it's like an old Replacements record, there's a lot of mistakes but at the end of the day it comes out pretty well". It was the most awkward rock geek pandering I've ever seen. I'm not hating on the dude, though. I didn't care for "Fly" when it was inescapable in the summer of '97, but every subsequent Sugar Ray hit (or at least every subsequent "Fly"-style beatbox/acoustic guitar SR single) has been better than the last. "When It's Over" is my jam.
4 Shania Twain is the only person involved in the movie I [Heart] Huckabees who I have seen publicly refer to it as "I Love Huckabees", which I think makes me like her more.