Written by Randle Cecil. 15 April 2015.
Anyone who has listened to Shania Twain knows that she displays feminism and sass in almost every song she creates. One of her more popular songs, and my personal favorite, “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” is no exception and definitely centers around female empowerment. This song can be found on her third studio album, Come On Over (1997). With the help of Shania’s husband Mutt Lange, who is known for his success as a producer in rock music, the couple created a pop sound that seemed to have huge success with their previous country-loving listeners. This song proved its success when it reached the top-ten in six countries and won a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 2000. This was also the opening song for two of Shania’s tours, as well as being her headline for the Super Bowl XXXVII Halftime Show. Not only was “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” loved by Shania’s fans, it was also a favorite of Carrie Underwood who sang it during her time on American Idol, and a favorite of Britney Spears who performed this song in her first movie, Crossroads. It is no coincidence that Carrie Underwood and Britney Spears chose one of Shania Twain’s songs to perform. Twain paved the way for strong female performers of the late 90s and early 2000s that loved to display their pride in being a woman.
The success of this song can be attributed to many different reasons. First, the song’s lyrics are so catchy that hardly anyone is able to ignore it. For example, the “oh, oh, oh” at the beginning of each chorus seems to be the part of the song that everybody enjoys singing, whether they are previously familiar with the lyrics or not. It makes the song easy to sing even if you don’t know the other lyrics right away. She delivers a powerful message in a fun and subtle way, which allows it to reach a wide range of people who simply enjoy upbeat music. The lyrics are simple and easy to understand, allowing the audience to get the tune stuck in their head for days. The strength of Shania’s voice mirrors her strength as an individual artist as well as an independent woman. Shania and her husband knew how to make a somewhat politically powerful song using lyrics that made the song appear simple-minded on the surface. However, once the listener interprets the lyrics it is easily understood that Shania is standing up for women’s rights and is actively trying to change the previous role of women in society.
Shania’s carefree and sassy delivery of the song makes it a “party song” instead of a song that leaves you with a heavy message to interpret. The music video for this song reinforces the strong delivery by making Shania seem seductive in what appears to be men’s clothing. Some people may even see this song as a comment on homosexuals and their freedom to showcase their personality as well. It is also interesting that Shania revealed that she got her inspiration for this song from a previous encounter with drag performers. Her top hat and men’s suit breaks the boundaries in style and separates Shania from other conservative country music artists. The term “drag” means a man who dresses in women’s clothing, and the word “queen” refers to a gay man. Shania’s inspiration for the song is definitely displayed in the music video and helps her establish her goal. Her outfit and the band of men wearing makeup behind her definitely makes a statement about gender roles that hadn’t really been previously addressed in the country music world.
Even the title of the song, “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” could mean that Shania is speaking directly to a man about these issues. With the title and lyrics, she is able to take on the role of a woman and maybe even a gay man speaking to another man about his rights. Whatever the circumstance may be, this song allows the listener to feel inspired and proud of whom they are. Shania said it best herself, “I ain’t gonna act politically correct, I only wanna have a good time”.
The lyrics of this song are simple and straight to the point. This leaves little room for different interpretations of meaning, yet allows each listener to connect to it on a personal level, whether they are a woman or have a mom, sister, wife, or even a gay friend. Shania uses repetitive form in her lyrics to reinforce her strong thoughts over and over again in the audiences’ mind. This song is simply composed of a few verses and a chorus, all relating to the theme that women can do whatever they want with no restrictions. Shania uses informal diction, such as the words “ain’t” “gonna” and “doin’”. This allows her to relate to a wide range of people with this song because these words display a country-feel, while also staying casual and fun. This informal approach makes this song pleasurable for listeners to hear, and makes a statement without being too heavy or overdone. This helps the audience be more receptive to Shania’s wild side and overall message.
Shania is able to say things such as, “go totally crazy-forget I’m a lady” and “really go wild-yeah, doin’ it in style” because on the surface she just appears to be an attractive, fun-loving girl. However, the delivery and message of this song in particular is one that opened the door for other female performers to showcase their wild side while also standing up for women. Before Shania, female performers, especially in country music, showed a little bit of their womanly pride but never got too crazy with it. Shania came along and shocked the audience with this song that doesn’t hold back at all. Shania timed this song just right. She paved the way for Britney Spear’s exposed midriff (Shania did this first) and Carrie Underwood’s crazy song “Before He Cheats”. Shania was one of the first to plant the idea of female empowerment into the minds of country music listeners and gained even more fans by transitioning to pop music with “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” Using a simple song and a wild delivery, Shania was able to open a new door for women in the music industry with a message that still holds value today.
|0:00||Introduction||Electric guitar, “Let’s go girls” “Come on”||This gives the song a pop/rock feel instead of country.|
|0:12||Verse 1||“I’m going out tonight”||This verse keeps a steady beat and the lyrics prepare the listener for the theme of the song.|
|0:31||Verse 2||“No inhibitions”||Sounds similar to verse 1. Allows Shania to elaborate on why she wants to go out and have fun.|
|0:46||Verse 3||“The best thing about being a woman”||An introduction to the chorus that follows.|
|0:55||Chorus||“Oh, Oh, Oh”||Shania uses stronger vocals and the beat speeds up.|
|1:33||Verse 4||“The girls need a break”||Sounds similar to the first two verses. Reinforces the theme.|
|1:49||Verse 5||“The best thing about being a woman”||Same verse as earlier, but not considered part of the chorus.|
|1:57||Chorus||“Oh, Oh, Oh”||This chorus is repeated with a guitar solo in between.|
|2:29||guitar solo||guitar solo||This separates the two choruses that Shania puts together to make the song longer.|
|3:36||Verse 6||“I get totally crazy”||This is a way for Shania to speak to the audience personally.|
Conger, Cristen. “Drag Queen Culture – How Drag Queens Work.” HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.
“Shania Twain Biography.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.
Tyrangiel, Josh. “Shania Reigns.” Time 160.24 (2002): 80. Music Index. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.