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Shania Twain Puts the Pop in Country: 8 Artists She’s Impacted Across Genres

Who did the pop-country blueprint pave the way for?


In the realm of mainstream pop music, Shania Twain kicked the door down for country artists. The chart dominance of her album Come On Over and its plethora of singles proved that the country genre — relegated to its own separate industry sphere for decades — could be commercially viable on a grand scale. A song like “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” is the perfect example of this; and many other aspiring country-pop artists have since followed in Shania’s wake. Nowadays, it’s far from uncommon to hear a country song played on a pop radio station — its actually pretty typical. Here’s a look at some of the most prominent artists Shania has inspired throughout her years as the pop-country blueprint.

1. Taylor Swift

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Undoubtedly the most successful post-Shania country-pop musician has been Taylor Swift. Early in her career, Nashville influences were more prominent in her music, with a very Come On Over-esque combination of twang and pop. Eventually, Swift would transcend country music entirely. Her 2014 album, 1989, fully embraced the pop genre. Later, she would go full electro-pop for 2017’s Reputation, before embracing a singer-songwriter persona with folkier albums like 2020’s folklore and evermore; her most recent album, Midnights, demonstrated a triumphant return to the pop realm. If not for Shania creating the template, Swift might not have become the global superstar she is now.

2. Carrie Underwood

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Carrie Underwood became a household name after winning the fourth season of American Idol in 2005. She was promptly signed to Arista Nashville, and her first two albums are some of the earliest examples that prove Shania’s impact on mainstream country music. Underwood’s instrumentation is still rooted in Americana, but her glossy production and emphasis on vocal hooks would become the industry norm — especially for female artists. Much like Shania, Underwood is known for her karaoke-worthy, girl-power anthems. She’s currently on her Denim and Rhinestones Tour, wrapping up in Seattle on March 17. In June, she’ll begin her Las Vegas residency at Resorts World Theatre through December.

3. Kelsea Ballerini

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Another artist who puts a modern spin on country pop, Kelsea Ballerini’s recorded output wears Shania’s influence firmly on its sleeve. In fact, Ballerini and Shania have collaborated together on a song, “Hole in the Bottle,” and Ballerini was featured prominently in the 2022 Shania documentary, Not Just a Girl. The two are now friends, after Shania invited Ballerini on a dinner-and-wine date in Nashville, Tennessee, leading to their eventual song collaboration. “And we’ve had lots of wine together, Shania and I,” Ballerini told iHeart Radio. Her most recent release, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, has been widely revered for its honest and raw account of her divorce from country singer Morgan Evans. Ballerini is set to open up for Shania at her inaugural concert at Nashville’s Geodis Park on June 7.

4. Lady A

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The Nashville group formerly known as Lady Antebellum has had a prolific career, releasing nine studio albums of pop-inflected country since forming in 2006. The trio clearly reveres Shania, as they covered “You’re Still the One” in the presence of the singer herself at a 2017 concert in Toronto. It moved Shania to tears in the front row. “I was terrified too, like, ‘God, if I mess this up,’” Lady A’s Dave Haywood said. “We met her backstage — we heard she was coming… so everyone was kind of a-buzz like, ‘Shania is supposed to be here….’ It’s like the queen is coming, she’s so massive. It’s like royalty is in the building.”

5. Lee Ann Womack

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A contemporary of Shania, Womack’s recorded output changed in real-time following the success of Come On Over. Womack’s 1997 eponymous debut album was rooted in a more traditional country sound — exactly what Shania and Robert “Mutt” Lange had steered away from, to the chagrin of label execs. But the game was soon flipped on its head, and singers were now encouraged to record more pop-oriented country music, best exemplified by Womack’s massive 2000 hit, “I Hope You Dance.”

6. Kacey Musgraves

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Musgraves could be seen as a modern Shania in that the former has taken Americana and blended it with outside influences, creating an altogether new subgenre in the process (sometimes dubbed “cosmic country”). In the case of Musgraves, she fused country with aesthetics often found in mellow indie rock and dream pop. Her 2018 album, Golden Hour, created a crossover splash and introduced not only Musgraves, but country music in general to alternative and indie audiences that might have avoided anything remotely twangy in the past. Musgraves also covered Shania’s classic tune “You’re Still The One” alongside Harry Styles while touring with him in 2018.

7. Keith Urban

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At first glance, you might mistake Keith Urban for a boy band member. But music aside, Shania also turned mainstream country away from cliched stereotypes and imagery. Like Shania, Urban presented more like a pop star, meanwhile upping the guitar-rock influences in his decidedly country-pop output.

8. Carly Pearce

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A direct musical lineage can be traced from Shania down to Carly Pearce, a Nashville, Tennessee-based singer. Her albums balance country and pop aesthetics, and Pearce has cited Shania as an influence. When asked by Billboard about a potential collaboration between the two, Pearce was ecstatic. “I would die, I would die. I would love it!” she said. “Shania, let’s go!”

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