USATODAY.COM – Shania Twain Idol Chatter
Why Shania Twain makes a great 'American Idol' theme
By Eileen Blass
I can't tell you how thrilled I am that Shania Twain will return to American Idol as a mentor this season. I've long thought she was one of the smartest, savviest entertainers around -- traits she showed during her stint as a guest judge earlier this season.
Even better, Twain's songs are uniquely suited the Idol format.
For one thing, they're very adaptable. Collaborating with then-husband Mutt Lange as producer, Twain often made records that sounded as influenced by honky-tonk and Western swing as by Def Leppard and AC/DC. As a result, a song like (If You're Not in It for Love) I'm Outta Here could work as an electrified hard-rock stomp or as an acoustic country blues (are you listening, Casey James?).
Also, Twain loves the idea of re-arranging songs. "I'm not a purist when it comes to genre," Twain told me around the time Up! came out. "I'm a student of all the influences I grew up listening to. It's natural for me to hear my song in many different ways."
Twain's last studio album -- 2002's Up! -- came in three versions: a country disc, a pop disc and an international disc that featured Bollywood elements. And in this clip from CMT's Up! Close and Personal, she performs AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long acoustically, with Allison Krauss + Union Station.
Also, the Idol contestants should benefit from the way Twain writes her material. She and Lange intentionally designed her songs to hook the listener's attention, then keep it by offering rhythmic and melodic sections that changed faster than the audience could get bored. Honey, I'm Home, for instance, starts out like a thumping Def Leppard rocker, then suddenly shifts gears into a line-dancing shuffle at the chorus. I'm Gonna Getcha Good! goes through three completely different sections in quick succession -- a low, purring verse followed a bridge with more sustained notes that builds tension released by its bouncy chorus.
Cutting those songs down for Idol time constraints should only accelerate the effect. It'll force the singers to switch gears pretty quickly, but, as long as they manage that, the performances will move along at a good clip, the singers will get to show several facets of their voices, and they ought to get more lighting changes than usual, too.
However, Twain's punctuation-heavy songs can trip you up if you're at all self-conscious. If you have any reservations whatsoever about singing lines like "I gol-darn gone and done it" (from Love Gets Me Every Time), "Rub my feet, gimme something to eat" (from Honey, I'm Home) or "Even my skin is acting weird/I wish that I can grow a beard" (from Up!), you run a great risk of looking like a fool when you try. Unfortunately, Idol just got rid of its one contestant this season who didn't seem to care if he looked goofy.