When I first learned I would be reviewing this collection of Cher’s greatest hits, I wasn’t at all enthused. I’m not a big Cher fan. I’ve always thought her to be excessively flaky and more worried about her beauty than her music. The album notes proclaim that “[Cher’s] a cultural constant…[t]here’s something very comforting about hearing that voice on the airwaves or seeing that familiar face in magazine or on TV, almost like a visiting relative.” How ludicrous, I thought, loading the disc for the first time. When I think of Cher I think of vanity, I think of a persona that exudes the need to be debunked all around. I could barely remember any of her music! Everything about her seemed laughable.
Well, as it turns out, I’m only partly right. After giving The Best of Cher: The Millennium Collection a fair shot at the stereo, I’ve decided that though she might still be a flake, the music on this album is damned good listening.
All of the singles on The Best of Cher charted during the 1970s. The actual chartings are located just below the song titles inside the jewel case, listed for both the pop and the adult contemporary charts. There’s a smattering of #1s, but those are far from the best music on the disc. Even though “Don’t Hide Your Love” and “I Saw a Man and He Danced with his Wife” didn’t manage to break the 40s on the pop chart they are still excellent music.
There is something comforting in the standard pop rhythms and ‘70s keyboard on most of these songs. There’s not much here to take serious. Even the racial anthem of “Half-Breed” is almost mocked by the thin Indian drumbeats. The comfort comes from the utter lack of seriousness here. You’re on safe ground when you listen to The Best of Cher. Nothing is going to surprise you; nothing is going to provoke you. The songs are a stolid offering of stolid ‘70s rock, sung by the sultry edge of Cher’s excellent voice.
So, is Cher “a cultural constant”? Sure, yes…why not…even if the connotations are not the best in all cases, Cher has most decidedly been a mainstay of the music industry for near four decades.
However, a more pertinent question would be: is Cher’s music valid today? Well, in short, no…her music is dated. One listen to The Best of Cher will make this obvious. Yet, despite all of this, the music is still good, good listening, thin of character but thick on addictive pop icing.
Another question: does the world really need another “best of” album, let alone a “Millennium Collection” as MCA has begun with this release and others?
I suppose that is best left to the real fans. For me, though, this offering certainly gave me a snapshot of a decade of chart life for the much-maligned Cher. I would recommend it to those who, like me, have no real clue about who this woman is and where her music has led her. It could be the beginning of a collection of real Cher albums, who knows?