Just like the albums her husband/producer Mutt Lange produced for Def Leppard, Shania Twain's albums are designed to generate hit singles for two or three years, which means that each of her blockbuster records -- 1995's The Woman in Me, 1997's Come On Over, 2002's Up! -- already seem like greatest-hits records, since they're filled with huge hits. This makes assembling an actual greatest-hits album a little difficult, since not only is the material overly familiar, but there are so many hits that they're difficult to fit on a single-disc collection. Impressively, 2004's Greatest Hits -- the first compilation Shania has released in her career -- doesn't skimp in either the hits or its actual length. Weighing in at a whopping 21 tracks, it has every big hit from her career, bypassing just a handful of tracks (including anything from her eponymous 1993 debut, plus "God Bless the Child" from 1996 and "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" from 2004), none of which are greatly missed. The collection runs in reverse chronological order, beginning with the ballad "Forever and Always" from Up! then running through hits like "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!," "That Don' Impress Me Much," "You're Still the One," "Any Man of Mine" -- all in their most familiar radio mixes, which means pop mixes alternate with country mixes according to the song -- before ending with four new tracks (the gleefully goofy "Party for Two" is featured in two versions, a pop version with Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath and a country version with Billy Currington). Taken as a whole, this is a pretty impressive and consistent body of work -- sure, her hits can be slick, glossy, and silly, but they're infectious, irresistibly catchy, impeccably crafted, and most importantly, still tremendous fun after hundreds of plays. This isn't straight country, but it never pretends that it is. Instead, Twain and Lange poached the catchiest elements from arena rock and adult contemporary pop, peppered it with '90s pop culture references -- anything from bad hair days to Brad Pitt -- and developed a glorious, supersized sound that defined mainstream pop and country for nearly a decade. And, as this wonderful collection proves, Shania's hits not only defined their time, but transcend them, as this Greatest Hits is as fun as pop music can get.
Greatest Hits Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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