Shania Twain returns with 'Queen of Me' After a bad bout of COVID that had her fearing she'd lose her voice completely, the country-pop superstar is back with an album she says is determined to look on the bright side.

Shania Twain returns after a difficult pandemic with the beaming 'Queen of Me'

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And finally today, I know you know my next guest. I mean, how could you not? Shania Twain is only the bestselling woman artist in country music and one of the bestselling musical artists ever.


SHANIA TWAIN: (Singing) Get in the action, feel the attraction. Color my hair, do what I dare. Oh, oh, oh, I want to be free, yeah, to feel the way I feel. Man, I feel like a woman.

MARTIN: After a hardscrabble childhood and some dramatic career swerves worthy of its own country album, she's delivered song after song that have become dance floor classics. And now, in her latest album, the queen of pop country is calling us to the dance floor once again.


TWAIN: (Singing) Up, in your giddy up. Giddy, giddy up. Up, in your giddy up. Drunk in the city, got a litty (ph) in the cup. Up, in your giddy up. When we get stuck, got to get a little love. It's up, in your giddy, giddy up.

MARTIN: The album is called "Queen Of Me," and Shania Twain is here with us now to talk more about it. Welcome, queen. I gladly give you the title. Thanks for joining us.

TWAIN: I'll take it. I'll take it. Anyways, thank you. It's nice to talk to you.

MARTIN: So many things to talk about. I don't know how we can fit it all in, but we'll try. So this is your first album since 2017. So many things have happened in that time that affected so many people, including COVID. So what were some of the ideas and experiences that found their way into this album?

TWAIN: Well, because this album was written during COVID, as I always do, I use songwriting as my therapy and, you know, my go-to solitary time. But with the forced isolation and everything, I just needed to pick myself up, cheer myself up, and started writing songs that made me feel like, you know, dancing and put me in a good mood. So the album "Queen Of Me" came out of it, which ended up being a very - quite upbeat and chirpy album.

MARTIN: I think that's true, but let me just play - since we were just talking about COVID, I just want to play the track titled "Inhale/Exhale AIR." And then we'll listen to that and talk a little bit more. Here it is.


TWAIN: (Singing) Taste it, don't waste it. Take it all in while you can, uh-huh. Sail it, fly it, skydive it while you've got the chance, uh-huh.

MARTIN: I just - that song just does so many things. I just wanted to - I mean, I'm just thinking about so many things when I hear it. And I think I have this right, that you did get COVID at one point, too. Am I right about that?

TWAIN: I did. But I got it quite severely because I got the COVID pneumonia. And so I ended up being air-vacced (ph)...

MARTIN: Oh, gosh.

TWAIN: ...To an available bed and hospitalized there. So, I mean, obviously, I made it through, which is fabulous. But it took, you know, several tries of the plasma therapy to get me through it. And when I got out of that hospital, I - for - the timing was amazing. And I just - I saw somebody talking about air and the blessing of air. And without it, of course, we can't live and how not to take it for granted. I just started writing this song about all the things that we can do with air other than the obvious, which is to live and breathe. But I wanted to get more playful with it and more inspirational with it, and I turned it into a song. So, you know, obviously, we can - we need air to sail, we need air to blow bubbles, we need air for more - obviously, for life. But it was just - I started dreaming and letting my mind fly, I guess, if you will.


TWAIN: (Singing) Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

It's the most inspired song I wrote for this album.


TWAIN: (Singing) Get up, you can stand, put your hands in it. Oh, I need you. Get up on your chair, put your dance in it. What you going to do? What you going to do?

MARTIN: Does that - does - forgive me for even asking, like, this way because it's such a ridiculous question, but - apologize in advance. But does songwriting come easily to you? I mean, it just seems like you've been so prolific over the years, and it just - I don't know. It just - is it as easy for you as it seems? I mean, it just seems to kind of flow out of you.

TWAIN: It does flow out of me. I guess it's more - when you get down to crafting an actual song, is the song going to be a strong song? Is it going to be a song that, you know, others can relate to? Just the actual process of writing a song is constant for me. I'm always writing a song (laughter).

MARTIN: I understand that the order of the songs on the album - so I apologize for jumping into the middle there because that is just - it is one of the - it's one of my favorites. Who am I kidding? But I understand that the order of the songs is important in the way you construct your album. So I just want to play one of those that was near the beginning. It's called "Brand New." So I'll play a little bit and then we'll talk more.


TWAIN: (Singing) You break, you sting, you make me bleed. I cut you out when you cut me deep. So I deleted our history. 'Cause you'll always be the same old you, but I'm a brand new me. Brand new.

MARTIN: I've got to tell you, though, it's actually kind of an intense message here in this song. I mean, it's got a great beat and it's got this beautiful sort of buoyancy to it. But talk a little bit about that. And I kind of - in a way, it's kind of a Shania Twain signature - isn't it? - to take these really hard thoughts and to make it something that people can kind of hear and receive in a joyous way, which is - if you just talk a little bit about the song and why it is where it is in the album.

TWAIN: I think love can be that graphic, emotionally. And for me, what works best, personally, is - in getting messages across is with contrast because it - the - contrast highlights the drama more, and I just enjoy writing that way. So it works best as an upbeat song rather than in a ballad for me. Maybe Adele would write it as a ballad. That would work for her. I think maybe for my own style of delivering a song that has angst in it feels just better with more attitude, I guess.


TWAIN: (Singing) You think, you think, you think too much. You think too much of yourself. Oh, you're so, you're so, you're so in love. You're so in love with yourself.

MARTIN: Remember, "Man! I Feel Like A Woman!" - we played that at the beginning, your hit from 1997. It became a TikTok trend, which brought you to a whole new generation of fans. And then, of course, you made a surprise appearance at Harry Styles' set with Coachella. I was just wondering, like, what has that been like, having a song, you know, take on new life in a new medium?

TWAIN: It's really fantastic. It's reenergized me in so many ways. It inspires me to know that - or to watch in person as it's happening my music reuniting me with basically fans that are now, you know, in their 20s and 30s that were the little kids in my audiences all those years ago. So it's like a reunion. And, you know, they would have been who knows what age - 3, 6, 10 years old. And now they've grown into people like Harry Styles who can call me up himself and say, hey, you want to come up on stage and sing one of my favorite songs of yours with me? So it's just fabulous.

MARTIN: Well, before we let you go, you've had a career that many people can only dream of - you know, numerous hit singles, millions in sales, Grammy Awards, a Las Vegas residency. Is there something that you have not done that you would like to do? And not to mention, of course, "Beauty And The Beast" - forgot to mention again - playing Mrs. Potts.

TWAIN: Oh, that was absolutely a dream and very unexpected. There are so many things. I've got a huge bucket list, but I'm going to have to live to be 200 at least in order to fulfill them all. So, you know, I'm somebody that really always has something lined up to do to keep busy and to enjoy. One of my dreams has always been to not write songs for myself only, which is - I've only ever really focused on songs that I'm going to record. So I'd love to just write music where I'm not thinking about myself as the artist and, you know, just write things for other people's styles and genres and explore that.

MARTIN: Well, you know, I'm sure that people would take your call. I'm pretty sure.


MARTIN: Oh, well, thanks so much for talking with us. What song would you like to go out on?

TWAIN: I think I would love to go - how about "Last Day Of Summer?"

MARTIN: Shania Twain is a multi-award-winning musician and songwriter. Her latest album is titled "Queen Of Me." Shania Twain, thank you so much for joining us. It's really been a pleasure to talk with you.

TWAIN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.


TWAIN: (Singing) It's the last day of summer and the first kiss on my lover's mouth.

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