Three seconds into the opening track on Shania Twain’s game-changing third album Come On Over, Twain fired off the command that would ultimately sum up her career and subsequent legacy: “Let’s go, girls.” Spoken between bursts of roaring, crunchy guitars, it was a call to action heard around the world.
Released in November of 1997, Come On Over went on to become the best-selling country album of all time, selling over 40 million copies to date. And its impact stretches beyond country music. It’s tied with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours for the eighth best-selling album of all time — across all genres.
But beyond its massive commercial success, Come On Over was a benchmark moment for country music. The album changed the perception of what country music was and who it could reach. It was also a beacon for future female country artists, giving them a crash course in risk-taking and taking ownership of their careers.
Out of the 16 songs on Come On Over, 11 made it to the top 30 on the country chart. Eight were top 10 hits. Three went to No. 1. It was a mind-mindbogglingly impressive feat. It’s even more impressive when you consider that Twain co-wrote every track on the album.
Filled with irresistible pop hooks, Twain channeled the attitude exhibited on her first No. 1 hit, “Any Man of Mine.”
On “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” Twain extolled confidence and the beauty of being “free to feel the way I feel.” “Honey, I’m Home” carries the torch for the confident, take-no-bullshit demeanor championed by artists like Loretta Lynn. With “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” Twain reminds us time and time again that she has no interest in changing herself to fit someone else’s idea of what a woman should be.
Women in country music are often expected to stifle outward confidence in the name of humility and meekness. Twain’s in-your-face fearlessness was a radical notion.
The songs from Come On Over spawned iconic videos that further exemplified Twain’s image as a woman who knows exactly what she wants. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” featured Twain wandering a desolate landscape in a full-body leopard suit. “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” flipped the script on Robert Palmer’s infamous “Addicted to Love” music video, placing Twain front and center before a backing bad of male models.
Twain’s videos didn’t look like any other country music video. And that was perfectly fine. In fact, it was kind of the point. Twain changed what country music could look and sound like, opening the door for anyone who didn’t fit the classic country archetype. It proudly sent the message that country music doesn’t have to look like just one thing.
Come On Over had a profound impact on female country artists who followed in Twain’s footsteps, such as Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Maren Morris, Carly Pearce and Kelsea Ballerini — artists less concerned with a strict adherence to genre and more concerned with being true to themselves.
You can hear Twain’s influence on Morris’ latest single and fan favorite “Rich,” an infectious pop country bop that tells off an on-again-off-again flame with a Diddy reference and a “la-di-da.”
It may be remembered as a diamond-selling, record breaking pop country juggernaut, but Come On Over‘s true legacy lies in how it inspired a new generation of fearless performers and songwriters to be free to feel the way they feel.
Let’s go, girls.