Three seconds into the opening track on Shania Twain's game-changing third studio 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 climb to the same rung on the best-selling albums of all time list as not just albums by Garth Brooks but also releases by the likes or Fleetwood Mac and AC/DC.
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-bogglingly 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.
Other songs of note off the Robert John "Mutt" Lange-produced album include "From This Moment On," "Black Eyes, Blue Tears," "If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask!," "Rock This Country!," "You're Still the One," "Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)," "Love Gets Me Every Time," "I'm Holdin' On to Love (To Save My Life)" and Bryan White duet "From This Moment On."
Come On Over joined the short list of country albums nominated for Album of the Year Grammy. It netted the Canadian superstar four Grammy awards: Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song for "You're Still the One" plus Best Country Song for "Come on Over" and Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Man! I Fell Like a Woman!"
Twain previously won Best Country Album in 1995 for prior Mercury Records release The Woman in Me.
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's music changed what country could look and sound like, opening the door for many who didn't fit the traditional 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' 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 country-pop 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.
This story previously ran on Feb. 20, 2018.