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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Timeless pop icon Cher releases perfect ABBA cover album 'Dancing Queen'

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Cher sings in Ottawa, Canada, on her 'Dressed to Kill Tour' in 2014.

Pop icons come and go — their domination of the music industry is usually marked by a few hit singles, successful tours and then a Las Vegas residency (just look at Lady Gaga). Many stars follow this formula, but rarely do they ever match their peak success later in their career — other than Céline Dion, but that’s because she’s the best vocalist of all time. Yet, it seems that because pop music is always changing (and sometimes dead), it can be difficult for artists to adapt. Welcome the true exception to all of this: Cher.

Cher’s career began alongside her then-husband Sonny Bono as part of the duo Sonny & Cher. Sonny & Cher sold 40 million records worldwide in their decade as a duo. The two divorced in 1975, but Cher’s solo career began long before that with the release of a cover of Bob Dylan's “All I Really Want to Do” in 1965. Cher’s string of solo albums continued with her absolute disco-bop comeback album “Take Me Home” (1979), and her first Las Vegas residency at the Circus Maximus at Caesars Palace from 1979 to 1982. (Her second residency was also at Caesars Palace in 2008. When will your favorite ever?)

Top this all off with her "Living Proof: The Farewell Tour" (2002–05), one of the highest-grossing concert tours of the 2000s, and Cher is truly a talent. She has changed style almost more than anyone: from rock to disco, and even 90s pop with Auto-Tune galore. She has made comeback after comeback, re-infiltrating pop music long after anyone thought she was a threat.

It's with this success that Cher is one of music’s top acts. She is constantly changing her persona, her look and her sound. Unlike many artists, Cher has remained relevant. In a changing music landscape, that’s difficult. Her career spans from the 1960s to the 2010s, and she’s the only artist ever to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in each of those decades. Think of her as a female David Bowie — after all, the two did sing together on an episode of Cher’s variety show “Cher” (1975).

Music is far from her only passion. Cher is a chameleon at heart, involved in television, comedy, philanthropy, producing and acting. For her performance in “Moonstruck” (1987), a romantic comedy, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress — Gaga, there is hope. In 2010, she starred in “Burlesque” alongside Christina Aguilera. Sure, Aguilera’s performance was okay — it was Aguilera doing her usual throat-screaming with many “yeahs and woahs” — but Cher stole the show. She seems to do this often, especially in 2018's “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”

This was Cher’s return to film and to the forefront of pop. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” featured the ensemble cast viewers fell in love with after seeing “Mamma Mia!” (2008), but Cher’s new character was a fan favorite. She played Ruby Sheridan, the mother of Meryl Streep’s character and the grandmother of Amanda Seyfried’s. The moment Cher, rocking a white pantsuit with silver-framed sunglasses and a platinum blonde wing, steps off her private helicopter is a moment that simply saved the film industry, gave all audiences clear skin and brought fashion back.

Ruby isn’t exactly loved in the film, but her rendition of “Fernando,” a song about her ex-lover in Mexico, is simply one of the highlights of the film. With this, Cher is a welcome addition to the Mamma Mia! cinematic universe — next stop, a solo film, please!

Now, as Cher embarks on her "Here We Go Again Tour" to celebrate her performance in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” she also has dropped some exciting music: a new studio album titled “Dancing Queen” featuring 10 ABBA cover songs. The album is everything anyone has ever wanted, and a reminder that the queen of Twitter can do whatever she wants and still be successful.

The album opens with the eponymous “Dancing Queen,” one of ABBA’s biggest hits. Cher’s cover retains the authentic fun of ABBA’s original song, but updates it with fresh and exciting vocals. “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” is the album’s highlight banger; this song inarguably slaps hard. It’s perfect for the club, with Auto-Tune Cher filling the song with fun and excitement.

After the first two bops, Cher takes a breather, glossing over ABBA hits “The Name of the Game” and “SOS.” The two are great listens, and showcase that even at 72, this diva has still got it. “Dancing Queen” picks up at “Waterloo,” which Cher does better than anyone, even ABBA. It’s loud, rambunctious and the world’s best history lesson. (Napoleon did, in fact, surrender at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Factually correct historical references are appreciated.)

Mamma Mia,” Cher’s next ABBA cover song, is absolutely gorgeous. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a duet with Meryl Streep — these are the things to wish for. The album’s highlight comes on with “Fernando,” which was the third single from the soundtrack of “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.” It is a sweeping hit, with a great chorus. “Fernando” can only possibly be topped by “One of Us,” the final song on the album. There is so much to say about “One of Us,” but to sum it up, it is the perfect sob-worthy end to the album.

Sonically, “Dancing Queen” is a fresh, hot take on ABBA, perfect for any occasion. Whether a wine night or an ABBA-themed birthday party, Cher’s memorable lyrics and dance-pop vibe rooted in traditional ABBA fun make for the perfect cover album. The songs are not too off-course from the original hits, but just different enough with a touch of pizzazz.

Cher’s ABBA cover is everything it should have been and more. There are bangers, slow songs, whimsical acoustic numbers and true sentiment. She truly chose an excellent variety of songs, and that can be difficult with ABBA’s extensive list of bops. Like almost everything she does, Cher’s latest venture is a surefire success. It keeps the same soul she’s known for, but it’s modernized for 2018’s clubs and parties. In this way, “Dancing Queen” is a solid reminder that Cher is still here, still rocking, and simply put, the goddess of pop music no one deserved.

Summary “Dancing Queen” is a solid reminder that Cher is still here, still rocking, and simply put, the goddess of pop music no one deserved.
5 Stars