Monday, June 13, 2011

Shania Twain, "Today Is Your Day"

Songwriter:  Shania Twain

New music from Shania Twain is understandably a cause for excitement.  After amassing staggering sales numbers, dominating pop and country music markets on an international scale, and captivating legions of fans with her personality-driven hits, the Canadian superstar has been nearly silent on the music scene for over half a decade.

But the past year has seen her returning to the spotlight in a big way.  After appearing as a guest judge and mentor on the 2010 season of American Idol, releasing her memoir From This Moment On, and being the subject of her own docu-series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Shania has finally given us a new single, and is it ever a disappointment.

Shania has continually proven herself to be a stellar songwriter, proficient at crafting both emotionally hard-hitting ballads as well as insidiously catchy up-tempo tunes, so it's a huge letdown to see her regressing into vapid inspirationalism.  Regrettably, "Today Is Your Day" sounds all too reminiscent of the trite themes that artists like Sugarland have been beating into the ground lately.  In lyric, "Today Is Your Day" lacks the distinct authenticity that characterized Shania's classic nineties hits, instead leaning on seemingly random couplets echoing a "You can do it" theme.  Add in the fact that "Today Is Your Day" shows neither a discernible lyrical progression, nor a shred of a constructed narrative, and we're left with an awfully boring lyric.

There are few if any redeeming qualities, with heavy-handed power ballad production competing with an overly processed lead vocal.  A superfluous and scarcely audible banjo line attempts to qualify it as country music.  The production issues are a particular disappointment, since bad production was almost never a problem with Shania in the past.

Needless to say, "Today Is Your Day" offers a weak payoff for fans who have waited six years for new Shania music, with weak lyrics and distasteful production overshadowing the voice we had always known and loved.  Authenticity, personality, and all of the best qualities Shania brought to country music are nowhere to be heard on "Today Is Your Day," and that's a crying shame.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)