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24 April 2018

Shania Twain may not share Trump’s politics, but did her music predict his rise?

Lurking in the singer’s 1990s discography are veiled hints that she may have always had Trumpian moments.

By Eleanor Margolis

To sort of paraphrase Shania Twain in a recent interview with the Guardian: “So you’re Donald Trump? That impresses me much”.

In her 1998 hit single ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’, Twain expressed her lack of interest in men with looks or brains. So maybe it should come as less of a surprise that, as well as being Canadian (who knew?!), Twain – “would have voted for Donald Trump” (in the interview, Twain said this was because he seemed honest, but later clarified on Twitter that she did “not hold any common moral beliefs with the current president”).

Last week, when Morrissey came out as an even bigger twat than we initially thought, it seemed like as good a moment as any for me to come out as someone who’s always found The Smiths more tedious than Richard Littlejohn in a post office trying to send a lawnmower to Belgium.

But Shania Twain as a Trumpite? After Roseannne Barr’s revelation that she did in fact vote for Trump, Twain is the second badass-seeming woman of the 90s to flirt the idea of support for the orang-utan currently running the world. In her heyday, Twain wore skin tight leopard print and sang about important issues like being a woman, and not being impressed by stuff. Gay icon-wise, I might even go as far as to say she’s my generation’s Cher, if – in actual fact – Cher wasn’t my generation’s Cher.

But, as I’ve already pointed out re Twain’s anti-hot and/or intelligent men stance, was the writing always on the wall for the woman who made country music – well not cool exactly  – but danceable? Which is to say, despite Twain’s insistence that she was caught off guard by the question, are there some veiled (thinly or otherwise) hints lurking in Twain’s discography that she may not only have had Trumpian moments, but even predicted the rise of Trump? 

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Twain clinched international success with her 1997 album, Come on Over, but by that time she had already released a couple of  less well-known discs. Her 1993 eponymous debut outright features a track called ‘There Goes the Neighbourhood’. Now, I’ve examined the lyrics to this song thrice. Although there are no references to race, it’s definitely an odd choice of title/lyric and – more to the point – one that raises a severely Republican red flag.

On the same album, the song ‘Crime Of The Century’ (an ode to people who commit crimes, no less) contains the lyric “I’m gonna lock you up for life with me”. A coded and prescinet reference to “LOCK HER UP” – the Trumpian warcry that would in later decades be used against Hillary Clinton? You decide.

Then there’s Twain’s second album, The Woman in Me. On the track ‘Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under’, she sings “I heard you been sneakin’, Around with Jill, And what about that weekend, With Beverly Hill, And I’ve seen you walkin’, With long legs Louise, And you weren’t just talkin’, Last night with Denise”. If this doesn’t read like a bibliography of the President’s many, many, many reported infidelies, then “lock me up” and call me Stormy Daniels.

However, it’s on Come on Over that we get some real possible insights into Twain’s poilitics. The hugely popular track ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ features the lyrics “No inhibitions, make no condition, get a little outta line, I ain’t gonna act politically correct, I only want to have a good time.” That’s right, the very core of Trump’s philosophy was hiding there all along, in a dancey 90s pop hit about – of all things – feeling more female than usual. If anything, Trump listened to this song – which resonated with his combination of hedonism and loathing of political correctness – and was inspired to one day run for president.

Then there’s ‘Rock This Country’. Buckle up fellow Shania Twain conspiracy theorists, because you’re in for quite a ride. The penultimate track on Come on Over contains the lyrics “We’re gonna rock this country, We’re gonna rock this country, Every brown eyed boy every blue eyed girl, Gotta really go psycho give it a whirl.” Rocking the country (in the pejorative sense)? Going psycho? If this isn’t, quite frankly, America’s very own tailor-made Book of Revelation, then I don’t know what is. And no, she wasn’t talking about Canada apparently: “From Utah to Texas, Minnesota, Mississippi too, Or Nevada, no matter where you live-this buzz is for you.” Rocking the country is one thing, but Shania adds that she is rocking it “right out of this world”? Nuclear disaster? As the prophet Shania said in ‘Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)’, “Stop overreacting, You even get suspicious when I paint my nails.” Oh DO we Shania? Then maybe don’t predict the collapse of Western civilization on a kitschy 90s pop album? Did that ever cross your mind?

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