Shania Twain supports Taylor Swift before AMAs: It's 'ridiculous' for artists not to own their music
By Patrick Ryan
November 21, 2019
Shania Twain has one wish for this weekend's American Music Awards.
"I hope I get a hug in with Post Malone – that would be really great," Twain says of the "Sunflower" singer/rapper, who leads this year's honorees with seven nominations. "Just a quick hug and 'congratulations.' I love him, and I've been such a big fan for a long time."
Plenty of people will similarly be fangirling when Twain takes the stage at Sunday's AMAs, airing live from Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater on ABC (8 p.m. EST/PST). The country-pop icon is set to perform a career-spanning medley of her best-known songs, having crossed over into mainstream Top 40 in the late 1990s with hits including "You're Still the One," "From This Moment On" and "That Don't Impress Me Much."
Twain's AMAs appearance tees up her Las Vegas return with "Let's Go!," which begins at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Dec. 6. The 23-date residency is the singer's second Vegas stint after "Shania: Still the One," which ended its two-year run in 2014.
The new concerts are akin to a "giant party," she says. "It's a very interactive show. The graphics are awesome, there are lots of costume changes – I'm having a blast with the fashion."
Twain, 54, talks to USA TODAY about her upcoming performances and shares her thoughts on Taylor Swift's recent legal battle and the lack of women on country radio.
Question: What can you tell us about your AMAs medley?
Shania Twain: It's eight songs altogether, from top to bottom. I'm starting off with a mashup of my favorite current (songs) that are not my own, and that will lead into "You're Still the One." I'm going to do that whole section alone, just me, my guitar and a microphone. Then I'm going to break into a few of my hits that everybody knows and can sing along with. I'm a fan of doing the classics: Those are the moments that bring us all together and I never get bored of that.Q: Who else are you excited to meet or see at the show?
Twain: I hope I get to say hi to Taylor (Swift), and give Lizzo a hug, too. There's a lot of wonderful artists right now; I'm really loving music in this time. It's become more diverse than I've seen in a long time, and it seems there's more freedom of expression. I'm feeling very energized by the talent around me.
Q: Are you a fan of Billie Eilish? She's up for six AMAs and is also performing.
Twain: Oh, yes, what a great talent. She's so young, and her and her brother (songwriter/producer Finneas O'Connell) are an incredible team. They remind me of The Carpenters, in terms of how in tune that brother and sister (Karen and Richard Carpenter) were. There's almost a telepathy that nobody can even explain in how that music develops between siblings, and they must be experiencing that to some degree. It's so unique, and she's got great style.
Q: Taylor Swift said last Thursday that her former record label, Big Machine Label Group, was barring her from performing her past hits at the AMAs, although she has since been granted permission. What did you make of the dispute?
Twain: I don't know a lot about the details of that, but I'm a big supporter of Taylor. I think she's just incredibly brilliant. I haven't had a chance to talk to her about it and I don't really know where everybody is coming from, but I'll always support the artist and their access to their own music. It seems a bit ridiculous to not have that.
Q: Last week's CMA Awards celebrated women in country music. Who are some of your favorite female artists in the genre right now?
Twain: I love Little Big Town, I think they're so incredibly talented. There's a lot of good female talent out there, and they've been more vocal about the resistance at radio to include them more equally in airplay. I'm hoping that does start to make a change because there are many female artists with strong songs that belong in the Top 40 on country radio that are just not there.
It's very ageist as well. I don't hear Reba (McEntire) on the radio anymore; I don't hear Patty Loveless on the radio anymore. I don't hear Shania Twain on the radio anymore in country! So that's got to change, too. Thankfully with technology, we do have other outlets of getting our music out there and radio isn't the end all be all of somebody's success today. But it's very frustrating and it's a disservice not only to the artist, but to the public, that they can't turn on the radio and hear all the best music that's being made right now.
Q: "Let's Go!" starts in just a couple of weeks. Why did now feel like the right time to return to Vegas?
Twain: I've done a bit of acting and two international tours since (2014), so I feel like I'm ready to settle a little bit again. My son is 18 now, so I feel like I can dive more into playing with my horses and my dogs and enjoy nesting in Las Vegas. The Strip is, of course, fun and crazy, but there are some gorgeous, tranquil small communities right off the Strip. So the contrast is perfect for me: I get to do my shows at night and then go back to my little farm.
Q: Did you get good at gambling during your last residency?
Twain: (Laughs.) I like to watch other people gamble, it's a lot of fun. But I'm more into the entertainment: I love the hockey, the rodeo, the wrestling, and the other shows. I saw (Lady Gaga's "Enigma"), which was wonderful, and I just saw Madonna the other night, which was really cool.