When Shania Twain’s self-titled debut album was released in 1993, it barely cracked the Top Sixty on the Billboard Country Album chart and had no significant hit singles. Switching producers to rock and pop veteran Robert John “Mutt” Lange (her soon-to-be future ex-husband), Twain and Lange penned the entire next album, The Woman in Me, which would sell four million copies within a year and has since sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
After the Top Fifteen track, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,” Twain released the dance floor favorite, “Any Man of Mine,” which boot-scooted right to Number One, 20 years ago today (July 22nd). The LP also reached the top and a total of eight tracks from it managed to chart, with “(If You’re Not In It for Love) I’m Outta Here!” “You Win My Love” and “No One Needs to Know” all hitting Number One. But all that seismic chart action paled in comparison to the tongue-wagging that began once country music fans got an eyeful of the shapely Shania baring her midriff in the “Any Man of Mine” video. In spite of the protestations from country purists that Twain was anything but, the singer-songwriter eventually earned a Best Country Album Grammy for it.
At the 1995 CMA Awards, the “Any Man of Mine” single and music video were both nominated and Twain was up for Horizon Award, against David Ball, John Berry and Faith Hill. Twain opened the broadcast, hosted by Vince Gill, with a flirtatious performance that was part music video and part Vegas showroom spectacle, and which, two decades later seems rather innocent and innocuous.
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Strolling through the well-dressed and meticulously coiffed crowd, Twain delivers the song’s lyrics that warn her man he’d better be prepared for what’s in store, but the looks on a few of the faces of the male country stars in the crowd, including John Michael Montgomery, Alan Jackson, Rhett Akins and a Faith-less Tim McGraw (several months before they began their relationship), suggest they may have been embarrassed by the flirting, or at least too polite to react too much. One who did react was Marty Stuart, who (accidentally?) brushes his hand across Shania’s bare abdomen when she sidles up to him. And after Twain fearlessly tousles Johnny Cash’s hair, he points his finger – his index finger, that is – at her. Whether he was acknowledging her performance or admonishing the cheeky behavior is unclear. Either way, it wouldn’t be the first, or last, finger-pointing Twain would experience throughout her phenomenal crossover career.
As the song progresses, several male dancers join the singer on stage, with a trio of them filling in for the notoriously media-shy Lange, who sang the record’s repeated “Any man” refrain in a voice that sounded a bit like Dwight Yoakam. As the song ends, Gill gets into the act, pulling off some awkward dance moves that mimicked those of the professionals, and somehow looking even more natural – or at least like he was having more fun.
The following year, Twain was nominated for the Horizon (New Artist) Award, as well as Female Vocalist, with “Any Man of Mine” earning a Song of the Year nomination. She lost the Horizon Award to Bryan White, with whom she would soon record the duet, “From This Moment On,” for her Come on Over LP, the massive worldwide success that followed The Woman in Me, selling 40 million copies around the globe.