It’s Cher’s birthday. Grab your Oscar, flatten all four feet of your hair, and get into it.
The greatest compliment I can give Cher is that no one is, or ever has been, like her. At all. Her incredible vocals, her stunning acting skills, her candor, her charm, her Mackey wackiness, and her staggering gorgeousness make her a mythological presence on Earth and a transcendently cool pop star. Today, on her 67th birthday, let’s pick her ten most underrated moments. Please enlighten me your favorite under-discussed Cher moments. We can all learn something today.
(By the way: Cher announced on her Twitter this morning that her new single is dropping in June, and her next album drops in September. Celebrate!)
1. She called Meryl Streep “Mary Louise” at the Oscars and got away with it.
You have to be Cher in order to get away with referring to your Oscar co-nominee Meryl Streep — formerly your costar in Silkwood, of course — by her mortal name “Mary Louise.” When Cher delivered her Oscar acceptance speech for Moonstruck, she said to Meryl, “I feel so unbelievable that I did my first movie with her, and now I was nominated with her, and I feel really thankful.” Two things: 1) Silkwood was not Cher’s first big movie (but we’ll get to that in a second). 2) Meryl looked amazing at that Oscars.
2. The skin-deep sassiness of “Skin Deep”
This frenetic little dance jam from ’88 barely hit the U.S. charts, but it’s addicting, saucy, and zippy in that Olivia Newton John “Heart Attack” way you love. Cher’s lolling patois is so kickass on the chorus when she purrs, “S.O.S. / I’m in distress!” You can’t argue with a dance song that’s flat-out telling you its pleasures are skin DEEP!
3. She’s the best part of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is a weird and haunted-seeming Robert Altman movie, but it features a one-of-a-kind female ensemble (including Oscar winners Sandy Dennis and Kathy Bates) and a phenomenal breakthrough performance from Cher, who is given arguably the weakest storyline in this twisted memory movie. Cher is charismatic, yet unassumingly fun as Sissy., who is one of the saner employees at a beyond-abandoned saloon. Cher’s performance is so raw and engrossing, it made me twitch with excitement just like Sandy Dennis.
4. “Wagon Wheel Watusi” could be the greatest looped YouTube clip ever.
The movie: Burlesque. The song title: “Wagon Wheel Watusi.” Watch as Cher yammers off that alliterative gem again and again, brightening your day more than you could’ve ever imagined.
5. Best Will & Grace appearances ever?
Cher was so damn great in her season three cameo on Will & Grace, the one where she appears to Jack, flips her hair, and and allows him to mistake her for a drag queen. My favorite part is probably the way she suddenly busts out the big line from “If I Could Turn Back Time,” because she sounded unbelievable.
6. She kills “What Can I Do For You?” with LaBelle.
Ready for the clip I’ve probably watched more times than any other live performance on YouTube? Check out Cher slaying “What Can I Do For You?” in full Mackey regalia along with the uber-fab queens of LaBelle. The song has that rolling Aretha Franklin-in-her-“Rock Steady”-days beat that makes you want to dance and testify.
7. She’s so endearing on “Little Man” (with Sonny).
This is probably my favorite Sonny and Cher tune because Cher really does most of the work. It’s also just a raucous, woozy ’60s jam, and “raucous and woozy” are two adjectives that best describe Cher’s essence. Hard to believe Cher ever had a problem with stage fright; her vocal is undeniably warm and cool, and that dichotomy has served her for almost 50 years.
8. This damn video with Kathy Griffin. It still rules.
More than any other icon, Cher can triumphantly make fun of herself. In this anti-Romney PSA with Kathy Griffin, she allows Griffin (who is dynamite here) to poke fun at her song titles, looks, and legend. Cher’s balladeer conviction manages to win you over, even when she’s just talking about how much Paul Ryan sucks. P.S. I’d pay to watch Kathy sing “Just Like Jesse James” in that terrible Cher impersonation.
9. Her Scooby Doo cameo brought attention to a cause close to Cher’s heart: shark demons.
Picture Cher lecturing Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma about shark demons. Well, it happened — in blazing Hanna-Barbera animation. This episode has always been one of my favorite Scooby celebrity episodes, which is a relief considering the Sandy Duncan and Cass Elliot episodes are such letdowns. I wish Cher did more voice-work. Scratch that: I wish Cher did voicework in things other than Zookeeper.
10. Every once in awhile, her tweets will knock you off her feet.
I got a colonic.RT @lolyabitch @cher how did you celebrate Madonna’s birthday?
— Cher(@cher) August 21, 2012
Yeah. That could be the greatest tweet I’ve ever read.
Happy 67th to the one and only Cher!