JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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Manifest Shania. Thoughts on American Idol's Shania Twain week.

For the most recent episode of American Idol, the songwriter/performer whose music was highlighted was Shania Twain. I gagged (just a touch). Shania for me is the worst kind of pop star, a (very nearly) wholly fabricated act along the lines of The Monkees, The Backstreet Boys and countless others. Now, I confess, I like The Monkees quite a bit, but I think it's because they were so obviously a marketing idea more than a true band, not to mention the fact that they had phenomenal songs. Shania, on the other hand, was not obvious at all. There was no goofiness about her "talent" or about her authenticity. She was marketed as a true country star who crossed over. Please. Here's the real story, as far as I know it:

She was a blip on the Canadian music scene, when Mutt Lange heard her stuff and took her under his wing. In my gossip-informed opinion, which is bolstered by powerful deductive reasoning, Mutt saw in her as much as he heard and decided that with the right material, Shania could be a lot more than a Canadian singer/songwriter.

Wait, you're wondering, who the hell is Mutt Lange? A producer. But not just any producer. Mutt is behind some of the biggest selling albums of all time, including AC/DCs Highway to Hell and Back in Black, Foreigner 4, Def Leppard's High and Dry, Hysteria and Andrenilize and many other rock masterworks. All of these albums are paragons of commercial songcraft, and on all Mutt helped not only create the right sound for the songs but also he helped write the songs. But getting back to Shania…

What bothered me about the Idol episode was not that I had to listen to her songs (honestly, her songs are solid) but that I had to listen to her repeat over and over and over that she wrote them. Not fucking true. I'm sure she wrote parts, maybe even entire lyrics, but Mutt wrote a lot too. More important, I personally believe it was Mutt who made her songs such big sellers, not Shania. In Shania's defense, she's rightfully pissed that her marriage to Mutt ended after Mutt cheated on her (he denies it, but, um, well, let's jut say he and Tiger would like each other) but still, she should have shared some of the credit for her music with Mutt. Instead, she was Me, Me, Me. Turned me off in a big way.

And that's the end of my rant!