I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Canadian pop stars are on another level. Whether it’s their flair for vulnerability or their lifetime commitment to not giving a fuck, Canadian artists are akin to our geese: They are beautiful, they are iconic, and they will end you in a heartbeat if you even try to step too close (an important lessons I learned on my bird-ridden university campus).
Also like geese, they stick together. Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara — both Canadian! — recently took turns covering each other’s singles, while Justin Bieber famously not only helped launch Carly Rae Jepsen’s career but went out of his way to learn the dance steps to “I Really Like You.” And yes, this is all special and amazing, but it is also garbage when compared to this week’s Canadian pop revelation: In an act of both admiration and friendship, Drake dedicated his recent Nashville show to my lord and savior, Shania Twain.
This might confuse some of you. You, with “Controlla” on loop and your OVO hats atop your heads, might sit there wondering why Aubrey Drake Graham would confess his undying love to a country star from northern Ontario who, two decades back, introduced to us the most important question of all: “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” You might wonder what they could have in common, or whether he too owns a bevy of jean vests, or if he could possibly impress her much. And if you are wondering all of those things, I have one question of my own: How dare you?
Of course Drake loves Shania. Of course he dedicated his show to her before eventually anointing Mrs. Twain as his #WCW. Of course he grinned just as bright as a sunbeam, wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and documented the most important meet and greet of his career. Because without Shania, there would be no Drake. Their friendship is fate. And this meet had to happen — Canadian royalty or not.
Please never forget that in 1995, Shania Twain dropped the sophomore masterpiece The Woman in Me, a record that not only outlined exactly what she expected from a relationship (see: “Any Man of Mine,” “No One Needs to Know,” “(If You’re Not in It For Love) I’m Outta Here!”), but also gave her an international platform on which to fearlessly express her emotions — usually to a danceable beat. Two years later, she delivered Come on Over, an album even more rooted in telling it like it is while also allowing her space to lament over long-lasting relationships (“From This Moment On”) and dudes that need to step it up (“That Don’t Impress Me Much”). And while Up! (2002) failed to catch on in quite the same spirit as its predecessors, it still worked to establish Twain as a pop star just as much as a country icon — similar to the way our precious Aubrey has learned to straddle multiple genres.
Obviously, the connections don’t end there. While Twain’s music matured along with her sound, The Woman in Me offered “go fuck yourself” anthems like “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” (a song about a partner stepping out with women like Long Legs Louise™) and Sad Jams like “Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore)” (about a relationship’s sorrowful end). Both forms exist in the same realm as our Drizzy, who opens tracks like “Child’s Play” with accusations of infidelity before descending into an argument at the Cheesecake Factory, or who uses songs like “U With Me?” to reconcile fame with starting a new relationship. Ultimately, Drake drinks from the emotional well that Shania built, channeling her “this is who I am, deal with it” mantra to deliver music fit for 2016. (Because as much as we love ’90s nostalgia — and I do — you can’t full-on copy circa-’95 Shania.)
So duh: Of course Shania is Drake’s WCW on a Monday. And of course it’s delightful and beautiful and indicative of what it means for real dreams to come true. The student met the master; the queen met our precious prince. Plus, they’ve both been through (and spoken out about) some real shit: In 2008, Twain’s marriage to husband Mutt Lange came to an end after she learned he’d been having an affair with her (ex) best friend, while Drake’s drama also runs deep.
As far as I’m concerned, Shania and Drake took the photo after his show, abandoned their respective entourages, and roamed through Nashville drinking tea. I imagine that he told her all about Rihanna while Shania filled him in on her life with new husband Frederic Thiebaud (the ex-husband of the ex–best friend who’s now with Mutt — wild, right?). At some point, I bet the two sat on a bench or curb as best friends do, and Shania told Drake to let go of any and all pettiness, because it’ll just bring him down, while Drake thought about ways of asking Shania to collaborate without it seeming like he was being thirsty. Then they probably walked back to her hotel and hugged, promising to chat on the regular while Shania reminded him she’s only a phone call away. And that’s when I’m sure he turned around, looked her right in the eye, and said, “Shania, you do impress me much.”
But she already knew. She’s Shania fucking Twain.