Saturday, June 29, 2013

9 Random Thoughts I Had While Listening to Cher's New Single

1. Wait wait wait. "New"? Didn't I first hear Cher's latest single, "Woman's World" (the first from her upcoming studio album Closer to the Truth -- her first in 12 years -- due September 24), way back in November of 2012 when it was briefly floating around the Internet? So how is it possible that it was only just released on iTunes on June 18. Doesn't Cher know that music tastes have change immensely since November?

2. Not that she appears to be concerned with current music tastes. A '90s-style I-am-woman anthem (much in the vein of her own "Strong Enough," the 1999 single whose title she quotes here), "Woman's World" sounds like it could have been the follow-up to "Believe" that "Strong Enough" shouldn't have been. Or most recently, the completion of a musical tangent that producer Paul Oakenfold almost went off on while working on Madonna's 2009 single "Celebration."

3. I interviewed Cher shortly after she turned 50, and I remember her telling me how unhappy she was with her new age. "I loved turning 40," she said. "I was dating a guy half my age, I won an Oscar. Turning 50? Not so much." I wonder how she feels about being 67 and singing lines like "I'm dancing solo/In the dark/On the club floor."

4. But then, if Neil Tennant can record a hard-core dance album with Pet Shop Boys (Electric, out July 15) when he's pushing 60 -- How time flies! I remember interviewing him in 1993 and feeling kind of sorry for him when he said that he was planning on turning 40 the following year all alone in Berlin -- I suppose Cher can dance if she wants to, too. And unlike too many women in pop these days (including Miley Cyrus on her inexplicably huge new single "We Can't Stop"), she doesn't seem to want to be Rihanna. There's only one Rihanna.

5. The song sounds better now than it did when I first heard it online, but it doesn't sound like a future hit. Apart from the dated sound, it sounds as flat as "Believe" would have without the distorted-vocals bit, falling into a safe groove and just lying there. It could have used a guest rapper to spruce up the proceedings the way Pitbull lifted Jennifer Lopez's "On the Floor."

6. Is it me or did Cher seem a lot less interested during her recent performance of "Woman's World' on the June 18 season finale of The Voice than the four judges did, especially Adam Levine, who was bobbing his head like he was about to jump out of his seat and bust a move? I wasn't sure if she was actually bored, or if it was that patented Cher jadedness, or if it was the fact that all of her surgical enhancement has left her face practically immovable. She looked great, though.

7. I can't say for certain, but I suspect she was lip-syncing, which would be ironic, given that The Voice is a singing competition. I'd pay good money to know what was going through Usher's head. He appeared utterly captivated. Either he was hanging onto her every possibly pre-recorded word, or he was wondering exactly what I was wondering. Update: After rewatching the performance several times, I'm pretty sure Cher was singing live, perhaps with a bit of pre-recorded enhancement. It's apparent in the way she drops the ends of certain sentences and the slight vocal strain on the chorus toward the end. In that case, excellent work.

8. During one backstage interview after The Voice finale, when asked about the inspiration for "Woman's World," Cher cheekily responded, "Some guy wrote it." Actually, three guys wrote it (Matt Morris, Anthony Crawford and Oakenfold), and I can't believe it took a virtual male village to come up with 3:45 of female empowerment cliches. I can live with the idea of romantic recovery through the groove (though it's a simpleton's prescription, more worthy of someone Beyoncé's age), but doesn't equating "I won't be no victim of love" with womanhood (yet again) just perpetuate the idea that women are always the ones who have to get over it because men determine their romantic fates, that with women, everything is always about love, that their lives are totally defined by the men in it? I wish the songwriters had left love out of it (what's love got to do with being moved by a groove?) and had just written a song about a woman having a good time without a guy on her mind at all (making it a woman's world in the truest sense of the words), because if you're singing about how you're so over someone, you probably aren't.

9. All carping aside, it's always good to have Cher back in the house, whether it's in Las Vegas, on her umpteenth farewell tour, on TV, in the movies or on brand new music. There's only one Cher.

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