Arts and Culture Editor
Cher has had a long and legendary career in music, film, and television that would be respected for any artist. Cher continues to act and sing at age 72, and currently enjoys a new spotlight. This past summer, she returned to the screen in her role as Meryl Streep’s mother, Ruby Sheridan, in “Mama Mia 2.” Now, while it initially may sound a bit far-fetched for Cher to play the mother of Meryl Streep, her performance ended up being the cinematic event of the year. On top of that, a musical about her life will be hitting the Broadway scene this Fall. After her grand return to the big screen, Cher has decided to bestow on us a blissful album of ABBA covers called “Dancing Queen.”
She has been releasing sneak peaks of the new album on social media over the last few months leading up to this anticipated release. As expected, the musical icon has created an album that is sure to win the affection and love of ABBA fans and those of us too who just love Cher and ABBA.
The album begins on a high with the lively classic “Dancing Queen”. This opening track manages to pay respects to the infectious spirit of the original version, while also creating something fun and modern. Now, Dancing Queen is incredible and everything you would want it to be, but the album really goes into full gear with the second song, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)”. To put it simply, if “Dancing Queen” was the delectable appetizer, then “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” is the mouthwatering main course. This song from the very first beat surprises in truly magical ways. The track opens with the iconic opening riff, but quickly shifts to an innovative electronic beat that is simply divine. Cher simply soars in this song, as she always does. This was already an ABBA favorite, and Cher’s rendition of this song is truly the gift that keeps on giving. She is a diva and this track cements her legendary status.
In her next two songs, Cher manages to top the staggering high of “Gimme Gimme Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).” In “The Name of The Game” and “SOS”, she manages to possibly outshine the originals. As an incredible actress and artist, Cher truly pulls the listeners into the emotions of both songs. When she sings, “Can you feel it the way that I do” in “The Name of the Game”, you believe her feelings of love in a way that is relatable and universal.
Now, “SOS” sadly is remembered with a bit of a giggle after Pierce Brosnan completely butchered this ABBA classic in the first Mamma Mia film. Cher thankfully in this track reminds listeners how great “SOS “truly is. She cleverly employs a stylized use of auto-tune in this track that gives the new version of the song a modern spin. When the updated Bass section appears about midway through, everything is right in the world. Cher’s cover of “SOS” is almost hypnotic, as the majestic nature of her voice and presence comes through loud and clear.
Another highlight on this album is the ABBA classic “Mama Mia”. Cher makes the wise choice in this song of staying true to the original music arrangements. This track can only be described as pure sunshine and hope. Cher sings during “Mama Mia”, “How can I resist you?”, and after hearing this song, listeners will probably be thinking the same thing. This cover is simply wonderful.
After the pure rush of sheer joy in the album’s first half, the latter set of songs show a much more tender and vulnerable side of the artist. Starting with “Chiquitita”, Cher’s tender rendition of this song is like a warm hug. Her soft vocals in this song are so reassuring and is the perfect build-up for anyone who feels down and beaten. Now, her next song “Fernando” may already be familiar to listeners who saw her tour de force rendition of it in Mama Mia 2, but it is so lovely and honestly a bit epic. As Cher sings the story of her love Fernando, the listener cannot help but swell with joy from the bliss of it all. The album already feels like a bit of an event, but her last two tracks: “The Winner Takes It All” and “One of Us” truly leave the listener floating on air.
Her rendition of the much loved ballad is elegant yet also jubilant. The bright instrumentals lift this track up to monumental status as Cher croons this beauty of a song with the command of a true icon and artist.
Instead of going out with an upbeat camp-filled finale, Cher makes a choice to conclude with the quiet yet emotionally overwhelming “One of Us”. Her raw vocals simply blister the heart in the best possible way. This scaled-back cover gives the listener a chance to really admire the true gem that is Cher. Even at age 72, she can break your heart while also bringing you to your highest place of ecstasy and sheer joy. While this album is very much a superb compilation of perfectly tuned camp, the sincerity and heart Cher brings to these songs is always at the very center of these covers. “Dancing Queen” is an album to cherish and one that marks a new career high for an artist who dazzles and inspires like no other.