It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing

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"It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing"
Single by Shania Twain
from the album Up!
Released February 9, 2004
Format 7" single, CD single, digital download
Genre Country, pop, world
Length 3:20
Label Mercury Nashville
Writer(s) Shania Twain, Robert John "Mutt" Lange
Producer(s) Robert John "Mutt" Lange
Shania Twain singles chronology
"When You Kiss Me"
(2003)
"It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing"
(2004)
"Party for Two"
(2004)

"It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" is a song co-written and performed by Canadian country music singer-songwriter Shania Twain. The track was composed by Twain and her then-husband Robert John "Mutt" Lange, and produced by Lange. It was released on February 9, 2004 as the eighth and final single from Twain's album Up!, and the fifth to impact the North American market. Disparate to the remainder of Up!, "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" is a ballad that Twain labeled to be the sole heartbreak song on the album. Musically, it lies within the country pop genre while its lyrics speak of misery.

"It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" received mixed reviews from music critics. Commercially, the single performed well in Canada, where it peaked at number four, and mildly in United States' country and adult contemporary markets. It peaked at number seventy-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number eighteen on Hot Country Singles & Tracks. Although an official music video for "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" was never filmed, it was given a promotional music video taken from a performance for the concert film Up! Live in Chicago (2003). Contestant Michael Lynche performed a cover version of "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" on a Twain-themed episode of the ninth season of the singing competition American Idol.

Background[edit]

After collaborating on her great successes The Woman in Me (1995) and Come on Over (1997), Twain and her then-husband Robert John "Mutt" Lange decided to take a musical hiatus. The two relocated to Switzerland, settled down, and had a child, Eja, in August 2001. Twain felt content and was in a very positive state of mind, which inspired Up! (2002).[1] She and Lange conceptualized the album to be very positive, optimistic, and uplifting; they desired to evade dark subject matters, yet still be profound through optimism. In doing so, they co-wrote every track on Up!, in which few tracks were ballads, something Twain considered a small ratio compared to the nineteen songs on the album. She explained it was not done deliberately, but influenced by her and Lange's state of mind at the time, adding, "There just didn't seem to be enough room for [ballads]".[1] One of the ballads was "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing", which Twain deemed necessary to come down in tempo. She said the song was very powerful and, as with each track on Up!, was significant to her.[1] Twain said of the track, "This is the only heartbreak song on the new CD. [...] a chance for all of us to catch our breath here."[2] "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" was later selected as the eighth and final single from Up!, fifth to impact the North American music market. It was released to country radio on February 9, 2004[3] and to adult contemporary radio on March 22, 2004.[4] A live CD single and digital download were taken from Up! Live in Chicago, and released on March 9, 2004 with the same cover as the video album.[5] CD singles and 7" singles were later issued by Mercury Nashville Records on March 30, 2004.[6][7]

Composition[edit]

"It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" is a ballad that lies within a fine line of country pop, most instrumentation are typical of country music, yet it does not sound distinctively country.[8] The country "Green" version is of three minutes and nineteen seconds in length, and the pop "Red" version is of three minutes and twenty seconds in length.[9] Paul Cognata of The Daily Campus stated, "Twain decides to deeply cross the line into pop music in her song, 'It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing.' Since there isn't any type of country-feel in it, the song sounds like a typical pop ballad that could be found on Kiss 95.7."[8] It is set in common time and has a slow tempo of 76 beats per minute. Written in the key of D♭ major, "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" follows the chord progression G–Am7–F9. Twain's vocals span two octaves, from A♭3 to D5.[10] Its lyrics reflect misery and burden.[11]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

"It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" received mixed reviews from music critics. Ron Rollins of Dayton Daily News believed the song was "catchier" under its pop format from the Red CD of Up!.[12] Eric R. Danton of the Hartford Courant felt his heartstrings weakly tugged by "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing", and added, "The whole endeavor feels like a calculated and spectacularly cynical attempt to make money while expending as little effort as possible."[13] Carol Tannehill of The News-Sentinel called the song one of the hottest singles on country and pop radio at the time.[14] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic noted the song's absence from Twain's Greatest Hits (2004) album; however, he said it was not greatly missed.[15] In 2004, "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" was listed as a "Winning Song" in the country genre by Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI).[16] The song was nominated for "Song of the Year" at the 2004 Canadian Country Music Association Awards, but lost to Carolyn Dawn Johnson's "Die of a Broken Heart".[17]

Chart performance[edit]

"It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" debuted at number fifty-seven in mid-March 2004,[18] and eventually peaked at number four in mid-April 2004 on the Canadian Singles Chart.[19] On the week ending May 8, 2004, "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" debuted at number seventy-six on the United States' main singles chart, the Billboard Hot 100.[20] In the succeeding week, the track jumped to its peak position at number seventy-one.[21] It spent a total of seven weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.[21] On the week ending February 21, 2004, "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" entered the US Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart at number fifty.[22] The following week, the track ascended to number forty-three,[23] and, after thirteen weeks on the chart, on the week ending May 15, 2004, it reached its peak at number eighteen, where it remained for three consecutive weeks.[21] In all, the single managed to remain aboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks for twenty weeks.[21] "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" also charted on the US Adult Contemporary chart, where it peaked at number sixteen on the week ending May 29, 2004.[21]

Live performances[edit]

Twain first performed the song as part of her setlist for an outdoor concert on July 5, 2003 at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny, Ireland.[24] She then performed it at another concert on July 12, 2003 at Hyde Park in London, England.[11] The singer last performed "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" on July 27, 2003 at a free outdoor concert held in Grant Park in Chicago, filmed for the Up! Live in Chicago (2003) concert film.[25] The singer donned a tan, multi-patterned halter top and black, sequined wide leg trousers, and performed sitting on a stool placed at the end of the runaway.[2] The recording of the performance at Grant Park was used as a promotional music video for the single.[26]

Cover version[edit]

Contestant Michael Lynche performed a cover version of "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing" on a Twain-themed episode of the ninth season of the singing competition American Idol, aired on April 27, 2010.[27] Lynche performed the contemporary R&B-oriented rendition of song sitting on the staircase of the show's stage. His performance was received well by judges Ellen DeGeneres (who compared Lynche's delivery to that of Luther Vandross), Kara DioGuardi, and Randy Jackson; judge Simon Cowell felt Lynche's song selection poor, deeming the song too feminine for him.[28] Sitting in the audience after serving as a guest mentor, Twain herself was moved to tears listening to Lynche's rendition. Eric Ditzian of MTV News desired for the contestant to tap into his R&B and soul music roots further and concluded, "Last night's performance was hardly the stuff of Luther Vandross, as Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell maintained, but it's a comparison that Mike should take to heart."[27] Leslie Grey Steeler of The Palm Beach Post acknowledged Lynche was usually cheesy in his performances, but favored his rendition of "It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing", saying, "I loved it" and calling it "awesome".[29] Mary T. Kelly of Salon.com commented, "Big Mike went back to good, ole country basics and sang the song sweet, simple and pure. Tammy Tyree would have been proud."[28] Lynche was placed in the bottom three that week, and later eliminated.[30]

Track listings[edit]

  • Live CD / Digital Download[5]
  1. "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" (Live from Up! Live in Chicago) – 3:42
  • CD / 7" single[31]
  1. "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" (Green Version) – 3:20
  2. "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" (Red Version) – 3:19

Charts[edit]

Chart (2004) Peak
position
Canadian Singles Chart[19] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[32] 71
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[33] 16
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[34] 18

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Shania Twain, Elissa Lansdell (November 8, 2002). Elissa Lansdell in Conversation with Shania Twain (Television production). La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland: CMT Canada. 
  2. ^ a b Twain, Shania (November 18, 2003). Up! Live in Chicago (DVD). Event occurs at 105 minutes. 
  3. ^ "R&R :: Going For Adds :: Country". Gfa.radioandrecords.com. Radio & Records. January 4, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ "R&R :: Going For Adds :: AC". Gfa.radioandrecords.com. Radio & Records. January 4, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Shania Twain: Releases: SIt Only Hurts When I'm Breathing (Live)". Umgnashville.com. Universal Music Group Nashville. Retrieved August 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing – Shania Twain". Allmusic. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Shania Twain – It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing". CMT. Viacom. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Cognata, Paul (December 3, 2002). "Shania Twain releases optimistic 'Up'". The Daily Campus. Willimantic Chronicle. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Up! – Shania Twain". Allmusic. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Digital sheet music – Shania Twain – It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing". Musicnotes.com. Alfred Publishing. 
  11. ^ a b Hanley, Lynsey (July 13, 2011). "With plugs like these, who needs sincerity?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  12. ^ Rollins, Ron (November 22, 2002). "No Headline". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  13. ^ Danton, Eric R. (November 20, 2002). "Shania Twain Times Three". Hartford Courant. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  14. ^ Tannehill, Carol (May 13, 2004). "Not just a pretty face, The laid-back, upbeat Shania Twain balances motherhood with superstardom". The News-Sentinel. Ogden Newspapers. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Greatest Hits – Shania Twain". Allmusic. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  16. ^ "It Only Hurts When I M Breathi (Legal Title)". BMI.com. Broadcast Music Incorporated. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Canadian superstars debut high". Guelph Mercury. Torstar Corporation. August 5, 2004. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  18. ^ Lwin, Nanda (March 12, 2004). "Canadian superstars debut high". The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  19. ^ a b Lwin, Nanda (April 14, 2004). "Janet sits at No. 7; It's Janet Jackson's lowest chart debut in years". The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Hot 100 – Week of May 8, 2004". Billboard. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b c d e "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing – Shania Twain". Billboard. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Country Songs – Week of February 21, 2004". Billboard. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Country Songs – Week of February 28, 2004". Billboard. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Shania Twain set to rock Nowlan Park". The Waterford News & Star. June 27, 2003. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  25. ^ Kot, Greg (June 6, 2003). "Shania Twain to give free Grant Park show". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  26. ^ "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing by Shania Twain". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  27. ^ a b Ditzian, Eric (April 28, 2010). "'American Idol' Report Card: Who Nailed Shania Twain Week?". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  28. ^ a b Kelly, Mary T. (April 28, 2010). ""American Idol" recap: Aaron Kelly goes country". Salon.com. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  29. ^ Grey Steeler, Leslie (April 28, 2010). ""American Idol" Top 6 prove Shania's still the one!". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  30. ^ Kaufman, Gil (April 28, 2010). "Siobhan Magnus Eliminated On 'American Idol'". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  31. ^ It Only Hurts when I'm Breathing (CD single). Shania Twain. Mercury. 2004. B0002357-21. 
  32. ^ "Shania Twain Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Shania Twain.
  33. ^ "Shania Twain Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Shania Twain.
  34. ^ "Shania Twain Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Shania Twain.

External links[edit]