Cher has been such a big star for such a long time that she doesn’t have to prove anything anymore. Oscar? Grammy? A billion hit singles? A hit television show? A goodbye tour that sold out everywhere, but didn’t really mean goodbye? A potential Broadway musical based on her life? She’s done it, clocked it, wrapped it in a wig, and mailed it to the White House.
At this point, then, when Cher releases new music, I don’t respond like I do when a newer artist I love drops a single. When Adele, say, releases her Bond single, I get really excited because Adele’s pop cultural story is still being written. Every new artistic expression has the potential to surprise and delight and (quite possibly) alter my impression of Adele’s work.
But with Cher, my response is more sanguine. I mean, I’m still pleased when my girl shows up in Burlesque and nails a power ballad like “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.” How could I not be? She sounds amazing, like she always does.
And now that “Woman’s World,” the lead single from her upcoming album, has been officially released, I’m pleased to have another dance-tastic Cher hit to add to my workout mix. Take a listen:
Co-written by superstar producer Paul Oakenfold, “Woman’s World” does exactly what I want a contemporary Cher dance song to do: It gives me an enormous chorus where Cher can prove how great she still sounds; it gives me a thundering beat that commands me to dance; and it gives me positive lyrics that make me feel vaguely happy while I’m spinning around. (No dark and stormy club anthems for Cher! Even though Lady Gaga and Pink have reportedly written songs for her new album, I can’t imagine her singing something like “Judas” or “Blow Me (One Last Kiss.)”)
And again… I really like “Woman’s World.” But I’m struck by the fact that I’m not as eager about it as I was for “Skyfall” or as I inevitably will be when Robyn releases her next album. Like I said, I think that’s because Cher doesn’t have anything left to prove. When she had a startling comeback in 1998-1999 with “Believe,” she was proving that she was still relevant—that song was the first one to use AutoTuning, remember—which was a pretty gripping narrative. But she’s stayed relevant since then, you know? She hasn’t had another top ten single, but something about “Believe” seems to have made us all accept that Cher was, is, and forever will be awesome.
So at this point, I don’t know if her singles can feel like events anymore. Cher releasing an good new song is like Meryl Streep delivering another great performance: It’s what you expect. You’re happy about it, but it’s what you expect. It would only be news if Meryl Streep sucked or the Cher song was really bad.
But hey… consistency isn’t a bad thing. It’s pretty amazing, actually. With the possible exceptions of Paul McCartney and Barbra Streisand, Cher is the only pop star of the 1960s who is still releasing new music that people care about. And of those three, she’s the only one who can reasonably expect her new songs to reach across multiple generations. If we take her excellence as a given, then that’s just proof that she rules.
In 1999, Mark Blankenship listened to “Believe” about 20 times a day. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship