Cher's new album of ABBA covers has dropped - and mamma mia, it's better than any of us could have imagined.
Following her stunning, hilarious performance in the acclaimed Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again this summer, Cher’s regal diva status had already been safely secured for a new generation. But that clearly didn’t satisfy the mother of electronic dance music. As if headlining premieres for Here We Go Again whilst effortlessly reintroducing the likes of legendary hits ‘Fernando’ and ‘Super Trouper’ to a twenty-first century audience wasn’t enough, this was merely the inaugural phase of Cher’s breathtaking revival of the ABBA disco hits.
The first and eponymous song on the album treats us to twenty seconds of instrumental, opening with the most famous piano slide in music history, unamended from the original track. After falling back into this familiar introduction, we hear the unmistakable contralto vocals of seventy-two year old Cherilyn Sarkisian, whose age has served only to strengthen her voice. As I close my eyes and see the glitter flood the dancefloor, the Goddess of Pop announces boldly, “You can dance, you can jive”, and I know in my heart that she is singing about herself, and I can do nothing but support the comeback queen in what I would call her best album yet.
Alongside the bust-a-move belters, we are shown a window into Cher’s soul with heart-wrenching ‘The Winner Takes It All’ which sets an original tone perfectly through her characteristic leaning on the vocoder which catapults those unmatched powerhouse pipes into the cosmos, giving the listener a fresh perspective of resilience and autonomy to this traditionally desperate and defeatist heartbreak song.
Though I would have preferred Cher to take a step away from the Mamma Mia! franchise by recording some of ABBA’s best non over-commercialised tracks like ‘Ring, Ring’ or ‘I Am The City’, the unmistakably supreme takeaway hit from this album has to be ‘Waterloo’. Cher is able to show off her impressive vocal range (which surprisingly sounds more lubricated than in her youth), belting riffs, and ability to sing soul all whilst restraining her use of autotune in favour of the more traditional sounds of drum, trumpet, and electric guitar.
This album is surprisingly authentic, and what could have easily ended up as a perceived cheap money-making extension of a disco movie musical cameo is not tainted by any showy, throwback tackiness. Instead, Cher takes us through every emotion and depth of feeling, and if I am not hearing this album on the disco floor for years to come, I will be sorely disappointed.
Dancing Queen is available now via Warner Bros. Records.