Cher - Danc­ing Queen

Gay Times Magazine - - REVIEW - Words Nick Levine

Is there any­thing camper than Cher mak­ing an al­bum of ABBA bangers? Well yes, ac­tu­ally – cover art which shows two Chers (one blonde, one brunette) recre­at­ing a clas­sic Agnetha and Frida pose. Truly, we do not de­serve her.

But what’s great about Danc­ing Queen, which Cher cooked up while film­ing her fab­u­lous ex­tended cameo in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, is it’s not just camp. In a re­cent in­ter­view, Cher be­moaned the fact that ABBA used Agnetha Fält­skog and Frida Lyn­gstad’s voices “like in­stru­ments” in­stead of let­ting them pro­pel each song. No one could ac­cuse this al­bum’s pro­ducer, Mark Tay­lor, of tak­ing the same ap­proach; Cher’s glo­ri­ous vo­cals – still rich and

won­der­fully an­drog­y­nous-sound­ing – drive each song from be­gin­ning to end. And sur­pris­ingly, there’s not too much of the Auto-Tune ef­fect that’s been her sig­na­ture since 1998’s Be­lieve. Vo­cals aside, many of Cher’s ABBA cov­ers aren’t mas­sively dif­fer­ent from the daz­zling orig­i­nals. Her Danc­ing Queen is per­haps a lit­tle ritzier; her Mamma Mia def­i­nitely a lit­tle tinier; and her Water­loo bor­rows the stomp­ing beat from Amii Ste­wart’s disco clas­sic Knock On Wood – hon­estly, it works. Else­where, she and Tay­lor turn The Win­ner Takes It All into a disco bal­lad and waft some pop­pers over SOS. The re­sults are a lit­tle more glit­tery than the ver­sions you know and love, but at the same time, re­as­sur­ingly fa­mil­iar.

But the bi›est rev­e­la­tions are the bal­lads. Her ren­di­tion of One of Us is gen­uinely af­fect­ing and shows what an un­der­rated singer she is (even if Cher her­self has said, hi­lar­i­ously, “I’m just not a Cher fan”). It’s also mov­ing to hear Cher sing lines like The Name of the Game’s “I was an im­pos­si­ble case” or Chiq­ui­tita’s “Try once more, like we did be­fore” in full-on emo­tional mode. Any­one who’s seen Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will know Cher can re­ally belt out Fer­nando, but the ver­sion here is prefer­able if you find Andy Gar­cia’s back­ing vo­cals a lit­tle dis­tract­ing.

Purists will ask why any­one needs any more ver­sions of ABBA songs, es­pe­cially af­ter Meryl Streep and the gang have slayed them in two Mamma Mia! movies. But they’re miss­ing the point: Danc­ing Queen is an in­stant gay clas­sic, plenty of fun and poignant too, that adds an ex­tra layer of gloss to both Cher’s legacy and ABBA’s.

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