Why have a Top 10 when you can have one more? We take on the task of ranking Cher's best hits ahead of The Cher Show.
The word “icon” doesn’t even come close to describing the legend that is Cher. The Goddess of Pop has had a successful career for six decades selling over 100 million records (plus another 40 million as part of Sonny & Cher) meaning she is one of the best selling artists of all time, as well as being one of only five people to have had a US number 1 and win an Oscar.
With a legacy like that it’s no wonder there is a musical based on her life and career, The Cher Show makes it’s Irish debut in Bord Gáis Energy Theatre this July. In anticipation we tried to shortlist her vast back catalogue into just 11 of her best. There were arguments and many changes before publication, and possibly there will be more after.
11. The Beat Goes On
Released in 1967, the song peaked in the Billboard Hot 100 at number 6. Although it was released over 50 years ago, the song has remained a staple of Cher’s live performances where she now duets with a video and voicetrack of Sonny in an emotional rollercoaster for audiences. There’s no denying the bassline is what makes this track, while it may be a Sonny Bono composition credit for the bass goes to Carol Kaye.
10. Dark Lady
Released back in 1974 ‘Dark Lady’ is the title track of Cher’s eleventh studio album. Yes, by 1974 Cher was already on her eleventh album. The ‘Dark Lady’ of the song’s title is a fortune teller who informs the narrator her lover has been unfaithful to her with someone close to her. The woman returns home to realise she smells the Dark Lady’s perfume so she takes actions and shoots both her lover and the Dark Lady dead. Normal stuff for a Cher song.
9. Woman’s World
A video that proves you don’t need a lot of money for a wig when you can just upcycle a newspaper, this is the newest song on the list released in 2013. A dance pop EDM banger from Cher that due to a leak understandably became a hit in the gay club scene forcing an early release from the label. This may not be as well known as similar genre tracks ‘Believe’ and ‘Strong Enough’ but good luck getting it out of your head.
8. Song For The Lonely
Originally written as a love song for Cher’s 24th studio album ‘Living Proof’, the song was recorded in the summer of 2001 but took on a different meaning following September 11, particularly due to the lyric “when heroes fall in love and war, they live forever.” While it may not have been a commercial success on release, it has been critically acclaimed and praised for it’s emotional nature.
7. I Found Someone
For many, 80s Cher is peak Cher and it doesn’t get more 80s than this. Originally composed by Michael Bolton (yes, THE Michael Bolton) and Mark Mangold for Laura Brannigan in 1986. Just a year later in 1987 Cher released her version with Michael Bolton serving as producer. The power ballad was released as part of a musical come back during the height of Cher’s film career.
6. I Got You Babe
When you think Sonny & Cher this is the song that instantly comes to mind. The single sold over 1 millions copies in the US alone and topped the charts in the US, Canada and UK. It’s probably one of the most well known songs in the world and a defining track of the early hippie movement, yet when written one night by Sonny and played for Cher, she hated it, didn’t think it would be a hit and went back to bed. How wrong she was.
5. The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)
A song that it’s hard to imagine anyone else performing, but ‘The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)’ was originally released by Merry Clayton in 1963. The single didn’t chart until a year later when it was made a hit by Betty Everett. Fast forward to 1990 when Cher recorded her cover for the soundtrack of the film Mermaids. It became her first solo UK number 1, also hitting the top spot in Ireland, Austria and Norway.
4. Dead Ringer For Love
An under appreciated Jim Steinman classic. If ever there was anyone who could even attempt to compete with Cher in a power rock duet it had to be Meat Loaf. Everything about ‘Dead Ringer For Love’ is big, from the guitars, to the vocals, to the hair. While the song become a regular part of Meat Loaf’s live shows, it was unfortunately never performed live by Cher.
3. Strong Enough
From here on we’re in anthem territory. While one of her most successful songs, ‘Strong Enough’ never had the chance to fully shine, always in the shadow of Cher’s previous single ‘Believe’. Several reviewers described the track as ‘retro-disco’ and felt it was a song for the distressed, Cher’s own ‘I Will Survive’. In 2020 the Chicago Tribune named the track as one of the best Pride Anthems of all time.
2. If I Could Turn Back Time
There was really only two songs that could have made the top two and it could so easily have been either for No.1. Surprisingly, when written for her by Diane Warren, Cher turned it down at first. We’re glad she changed her mind. The video caused uproar on release with many deeming Cher’s tattooed posterior and cavorting around a battleship offensive to the Navy, leading to MTV banning it’s broadcast before 9pm. Due to the controversy around the video, the song has become a symbol of Cher’s ability to survive, reinvent herself and to always be relevant.
Quite simply, a pop masterpiece. This song changed not only Cher’s career but the music industry as a whole. The pioneering use of auto-tune has been copied many times since as artists try to re-create the “Cher effect” but have any even come close? Part of what makes ‘Believe’ work so well is that Cher’s vocal’s do not need auto-tune. The song is a post break-up anthem, with some of Cher’s most empowering lyrics such as, “I’ve had time to think it through and maybe I’m too good for you.” The song brought Cher back to the mainstream and young audiences with a bang, it earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female solo artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 and became the highest-selling single by a solo female artist in the UK.