Shania Twain? Greatest Hits? Oh, the ecstasy! No wait, not ecstasy, it’s the other thing. Purgatory. Total and utter purgatory. Shania’s Greatest Hits, the first (and, God willing, the last) from the multi-Grammy winning artist (so it says here), is a twenty-one track rollercoaster retrospective of her finest moments. Swoon at the first-dance-at-a-crappy-wedding balladry of You’re Still The One. Marvel at the bastardisation of the English language displayed on I’m Gonna Getcha Good.
Imagine the conceit and smugness it takes to record a song like That Don’t Impress Me Much, to which her incessant complaining should derive the rejoinder “So what you sanctimonious tart. Why exactly do we need to impress you?”, before, finally, pondering where exactly the intonation lies on Man! I Feel Like A Woman.
This last point is the only thing that even slightly interests me about Ms. Twain. Is it Man! I Feel Like a woman, in the sense of Shania believing that she is now embodying the very essence of what it is to be the female of the species? Or does she feel like a woman, in that what she really wants, at this moment in time, is some other member of the same gender to be brought to her for an unspecified purpose? Cannibalism maybe? Sacrifice to an evil being to ensure fame and popularity?
It’s my favoured interpretation if only for the mental image of Shania sat on a throne in her palatial abode, counting the takings from last years tour (the highest grossing country tour of 2004, so it says here) whilst laughing manically before barking instructions to a flunkey to do her bidding and bring her a lady.
The whole thing is horrible. The old tracks are horrible. The new tracks are horrible, particularly the duet Party For Two of which there are two versions, each with different male partners. And that is two more versions than the world needs.
This album is so bad that listening to it makes you feel like the protagonist of a Kafka story – it’s forced attrition for an unknown crime. By track six I was screaming for repentance, pleading with a higher power to forgive me for whatever heinous act I had committed that required this level of punishment. Then I switched it off.
There is little or no point in railing against it, it’s going to sell by the bazillion whatever. It’s an album with huge sales pretty much built in. Her last three albums have all gone ten-times platinum, and fans are going to buy the album regardless of a vitriolic review such as this one. Everyone else will avoid it like leprosy. But in the spirit of the Buddhist philosophy of “every journey begins with a single step”, if I can just reach one Shania fan with this piece, dissuade one person from buying it then they in turn can convince someone else not to buy it. That way we can reach the entire world, one person at a time.