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On the Periphery of Cher

CherworldcovercloserAnd there was a slew of Cher crew news recently as well...

The TCM auction was held Monday March 27, 2017.

The show Making History made a Cher reference (Thanks Cher scholar Tyler).

Cher-rock-crewTwo related celebrity deaths occurred: and who would have imagined Chuck Berry and Chuck Barris would die in the same week? (Thanks to Cher scholar Janet for this pic of Chuck Berry on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.) It's my theory that Chuck Barris, besides connecting to S&C show alum Murry Langston, a.k.a The Unknown Comic, is the voice of the M.C. on Sonny & Cher Live.

Bob Mackie celebrated a birthday.

Diane Warren won a major award.

Fans were busy meeting Cher:

What It's Really Like to Design a Home for Cher (Architectural Digest)

And finally, there was a lawsuit over Cher's Closer to the Truth album logo design. Two stories:

I asked two local designers in my office to weigh in:

One said: “Clearly similar but hard to prove imo... that elaborately calligraphic style, and bodoni-like typefaces have been having a moment. That R though is exactly the same."

Another one said: “Yea, that’s a tricky fight when it’s a font. Mosaic Nadav's Paris is very specific beyond the average font and Cher’s design looks like they just let the font basically be the design but with slight changes. This being a mass distributed album that’s pretty lazy design… and yet designers do that all the time so I’m glad the Cher designer got called out on it.”

Called out but not successfully sued as it turns out: "Cher wins dismissal of lawsuit over album cover font" (Reuters)


And We’re Still Talking About Believe

Believe boxAnd there were a few articles recently commemorating Cher's 1998 song "Believe":

20 Biggest Singles By Female Artists (Metro UK)

Revisiting Believe (thank you to Christopher)

Also, The Voice auditioner Taylor Alexander surprised the show's judges with a countrified cover of "Believe" that I actually liked. I tend to like the country versions better for some reason.  I’m not a huge fan of "Believe," truth be told, but I will defend it if pressed. How often does that happen, you might wonder. Well, last week actually.

I’m taking an Central New Mexico Community College class online on pop culture and during two weeks ago we read this essay: “Seduced by ‘Perfect’ Pitch: How Auto-Tune Conquered Pop Music” by Lessley Anderson. The author states, "The Auto-Tune or not Auto-Tune debate always seems to turn into a moralistic one, like somehow you have more integrity if you don’t use it, or only use it occasionally." Our discussion question was, how could a music debate turn into a moralistic one?

This was my (ahem) very lengthy response:

Discussions about Auto-Tune turn into moralistic debates because they can’t turn into craft debates. They are similar to debates about other film and sound engineering technologies going back to soft-focus filters on Bette Davis.

It is immoral to come across as more talented than you are? This seems to be the issue with Auto-Tune’s vocal pitch fixing. Many critics believe singing is either a honed craft or a punk rebellion against craft. As a dance track, “Believe” isn’t punk enough a rebellion. Also, Auto-Tune is a tool used for chasing perfection.

America is obsessed with perfection: models are airbrushed in magazines, viewers protest when someone sings out of tune on live show, we are even fearful of singing in public ourselves due to our less than professional imperfections (Drew, 270-286).

Yet Americans also have an obsession with authenticity. It’s hard to find a music genre devoid of affectation around authenticity. And because judgements about music resist objectivity, (e.g. what matters most: reviews, awards, record sales, concert sales, legions of fans, breaking records, longevity? *), we resort to moral judgements around who is more ‘real.’

However, it was more than Auto-Tune compromising the song “Believe.” Ever since disco, dance music has been criticized for political and social reasons (Myers). Cher herself has always struggled for respect. Sonny & Cher were not seen as authentic folk artists and Cher was not perceived as an authentic rock artist in the 1970s or 80s. In the mid-80s Cher earned respect for acting performances. Now, ironically, her success as a celebrity on Twitter has been attributed to her level of authenticity (Wortham).

If we truly believed in authentic moments, we would be attending only un-mic’d live performances and not purchasing any recorded media. Cher and the producers of “Believe” used Auto-Tune in a novel way and whether you like the sound or not, this amounts basically to learned preferences and biases, not objective aesthetics.

 

*Cher has hit all these metrics and yet is still not respected as a musical artist.

Works Cited

Drew, Robert. “Anyone Can Do It: Forging a Participatory Culture in Karaoke Bars.” Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture, edited by Henry Jenkins, et al., 2002, 270-286.

Myers, Ben. “Why 'Disco sucks!' sucked,” The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2009/jun/18/disco-sucks, Accessed 8 March 2017.

Wortham, Jenna,  “There’s Only Love and Fear: On Cher’s Twitter,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/magazine/theres-only-love-and-fear-on-chers-twitter.html?_r=0, Accessed 8 Mar 2017.

The Influence of “Believe”

  1. “Believe” covers and mashups span pop, electronica, rock, heavy metal, country and hip hop. Believe was even covered as a sensation on The Voice this week.
  2. Believe – Cher
  3. Believe – MNEK
  4. Believe – Robbie Fulks
  5. Believe in You (Cher & Ariana Grande)
  6. Believe in Sexual Eruption (Cher & Snoop Dogg)
  7. Believe (Cher and Portishead)
  8. Believe (We Found Love) (Cher and Rihanna)
  9. Believe (Cher and Lady Gaga)
  10. Believe (Cher and ACDC)
  11. How Will I Believe (Cher and Whitney Houston)
  12. Believe it Right (Cher and Nelly Furtao)
  13. Do You Believe in Intuition (Cher and Shakira) 
  14. Hot N Believe (Katy Perry and Cher)
  15. Believe in my Religion (R.E.M. and Cher)
  16. Get Up Believe (Skrillex and Cher)
  17. Bulletproof Belief (Cher and La Roux)
  18. Believing On My Own (Cher and Robyn) 
  19. Believe in Sweet Dreams (Cher and Beyonce)

Cher’s Culture Influence & Songs We’re Still Talking About

SonnycheralbumdudsI’m reading 2016 issues of The New Yorker and came across a disparaging joke about Sonny in a satire piece about zen mantras. Which was very irksome; but then I saw some Rock Legends episodes and the one on Roxy Music reminded me of the always-impressive longevity of Sonny’s “The Beat Goes On” as it appears in the Roxy Music song  from 1975 “Love is the Drug.”

Last month I posted a link to the article The 7 Faces of Cher  which does a wee bit of Cher scholarship in trying to categorize facets of Cher’s career. This article does a similar thing: “Cher – the ultimate pop icon” from Getintothis, Beats, drones and rock & roll.

Some other good stuff:

Madonna, Guns N Rose and Cher Had the Best Songs of 1989 (Inquisitr)

5 Times Cher, Nicki Minaj & Others Pulled Off Lil' Kim's Pasties Look (Billboard)

PaulAnd when I last talked about the song “Bang Bang,” I forgot the whole reason I had brought the song up, which was coming across this album online, an album my parents had in their collection (of a few Paul Mauriat albums), 1967's masterpiece of covers, "Blooming Hits" which I was fascinated by because the woman is naked, painted and gasp not airbrushed! It also has a cover of the song "Mama" which is very proud of itself. According to the liner notes:

“[Mama] emerges as a musical distillation of the composition….the harpsichord is pleasantly evident, but there is also an incredible horn solo complete with scat riffs…Hardly as Mr. Bono imagined, but nonetheless extremely successful.”

Which lead me to this album, More Mauriat, from 1966 which has a cover of "Bang Bang."

Elevator music you can play in your own home!


Movie and Concert News

ConcertThere's been so much Cher news over the last month and a half, I feel like I can’t keep up sometimes. So I have great sympathy for Daniel of Cher News when he announced recently that he is going to stop posting again. Such a good news source, especially for overseas stories.

There was plenty of Flint water crisis movie news this week, (all the way to Belfast!), especially when last week news broke that Cher was dropping out due to a family crisis, which allegedly involves her ailing mother, Georgia. Our thoughts and prayers to Georgia and her many loved ones.

Here are the news stories about it:

- ET Online
- TV Line
- PageSix
- Ace Showbiz  

The documentary Cries from Syria also came out on HBO along with versions of Cher's new song "Prayers for the World." I’ve recorded the movie but I've been afraid to watch it. The violence and suffering warning has scared me from it. I need to grow some stones and do it already. Here's a review of the movie, Cher's song with film footage, Cher's song without film footage.

Cher also tweeted about an Armenian genocide movie she found moving called The Promise. Thank you to Cher scholar Tyler for that link and for also locating this news footage about Cher’s visit to Armenia.

Classic Cher is now in Washington D.C. for a spell and apparently has a new “Lie to Me” interlude.

Some local reviews of the show:

Other interviews & promotion for the tour:

The Washington Post did an interview with Cher that's annoyingly showing up verbatim everywhere else: "Cher on EGOT-ing, politicking and touring once more (Watertown Daily Times) and "Cher still rocking in new shows" (Journal Gazette) are two examples.

ViewCher was also on The Talk for a full hour. It was fun to see the hosts dressed up as Cher, (Sharon Osbourne is tiny!), and you can really see the influence of Graham Norton and Andy Cohen on talk shows now which are mostly a sequence of Cher games. How else do you come up with original questions to ask someone who has been interviewed over and over again for over 50 years? It was nice to see Bob Mackie brought into the interview mix for some variety.

Reviews of the show:

Cher also did new Entertainment Tonight appearances. Some clips:


Classic Cher Review (Spoilers)

After the disastrous attempt to see the Classic Cher show live, I came home and watched the show from clips online. Photos below area culled from screenshots.

SPOILERS - SPOILERS - SPOILERS - SPOILERS - SPOILERS

DescentIt’s true the songs in this show are recycled from other hit shows. It’s true most of the outfits are also recycled. But tweaks can be found all throughout and the show is very beautiful nonetheless. I loved the gilded iron lace theme of the small stage.  Although I didn’t see them all, (this is far from a view of a show I was fully immersed in), there seem to be some new and creative interludes. Vegas theater sound is so much better than arena sound but then that’s an aspect compromised by the dryness of the air that stunts the voices of the singers.

The big intro: I’ve only seen small pieces of the video introduction. Is that new stuff I see in there? Cher descents in a similar apparatus she used to fly over the crowd in D2K, repainted. Recycling is good. 

Woman’s World:  Cher dons a large and beautiful afro wig, an amazing new blue dress and fabulous earrings. Her eye makeup looks great. Is this wig a nod or a snicker at her neighbor at The Venetian, Diana Ross. It's interesting that Cher’s last Vegas show at Caesars overlapped with Bette Midler's and that these two are her bffs-turned-sour after Cher's 80s Caesars show with its before-its-time male impersonations of Ross and Midler?

The dancers look very similar to the shield-wearing warriors of D2Ks Take it Like a Man.

Warriersbetter D2k

 

 

 

 

 

Classic Warriors /  D2K Warriors

MonologueCher’s monologue: I enjoyed this much more than previous monologues. Cher talked about wives wanting to see Cher in Vegas because we don’t know how much longer she’s going to be here…she’s 70 after all. She referenced composer John Philip Sousa when talking about her breasts. She called Dr. Pepper the white trash white wine spritzer. She did a Q&A, prefaced with the rules she doesn’t do selfies, hugs or politics. Later she added marriage proposals and diner proposals. Her responses seemed very genuine. She said, “From bottom of my heart I’m so happy you showed up! You never know” and laments that they worked until 3 am and then again in the afternoon so her voice was shot but “my heart is good.”

She gave a sassy, abbreviated version of “Let’s start the show.”

In an alternate version on another night, Cher tells the story of meeting Sonny in this monologue spot. She catalogues her childhood attempts to run away and her jobs with Robinsons May department store docking time cards, a job her step-father secured for her, and the job at See’s Candy Store. In the middle of it, she said, “I have to come down. I get so nervous.” Cher described everything Sonny was wearing when she met him and “his beautiful hands,” how he loved her friend Melissa “but she couldn’t dance.” She described the big girls apartment where she lived and where Sonny moved next door. Cher wasn’t paying rent and was kicked out. She tells the cooking and cleaning story and where Sonny says, “I don’t find you attractive" and comments "Just what you want to hear when you’re 16.” Cher said girls came all hours at a night. She abruptly ends on how Sonny liked girls who had big boobs.

Strong Enough: Similar warrior shield dancing as we saw D2K. You know me: I like synchronized dancing.  Cher loses the body scarf on the blue dress and it reveals one butt cheek. The end is great.

Cher changes into her Sari costume and returns on the big old Farewell elephant singing the Gayatri Mantra. The sari is pink now instead of blue.

All-classic All-farewell 

 

 

 

 

 

 Classic Sari / Farewell Sari (click to enlarge)

The elephant looks glad to be out of storage. This is one of my favorite numbers due to the beautiful colors. Watching one of these bootlegs was the first time I ever saw Cher crawl back into the chair of the elephant.

All or Nothing: Cher exits the elephant’s butt. Great lights behind the iron lace stage and the flowing fabric of Cher, who sparkles. Another fun ending. A similar hip-dance for this song.

Cher changes into a Farewell version of the 60s Outfit with rainbow pants versus original mostly purple outfit and the red mini dress of the last Vegas show. I like this one the best.

BeatgoesbetterThe Beat Goes On/ All I Really Want to Do:  She lets Sonny sing his parts while the record-store-promo video plays. It’s cool way she still sings la di da di da very emphatically.

View from farther back:

Beatgoessonny

Another monologue: In the opening show she tells her Sonny story here and how when she met him she was “scattered as a person. Everybody in show biz looked like Doris Day, she said, except Annette Funicello. Sonny saw raw talent and “started to do the clay thing.” She said, “Now is the time I can do this song [IBUB]. I can do it now.”

I Got You Babe: She sings with sonny with a face of love and serenity. Early 1970s film footage, (Sonny with mustache and short bangs), matches Sonny’s singing but the song ends with another singer doing Sonny’s part. This is the same routine as in D2K.  

Cher changes into the gypsy outfit which is similar to the D2K show, a thick bilateral skirt of many layered colors. The headdress is more extravagant with elaborate hair braids and she wears prettiest bra you ever did see.

Gypsies-classic D2k-gypsies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classic Gypsys / D2K Gypsys

Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves: There’s still the stilts guy and the muscle man with a mustache guy. I miss the Caesar’s show gypsy wagon. Looks like a new leopard girl whom Cher pets. As always, the medleys are very short. 

Dark Lady: Cher sings sitting on a circus podium. You very rarely see Cher sing and sit. It’s nice.

HbCher changes into the Half Breed costume. You can just about only pace the stage in that thing. 

Half-Breed: Video footage above the stage shows a wheel of big feathers wheel twirling.

Cher changes into the burlesque costume.

Welcome to Burlesque: Much like movie and D2K version with the movie's outfit and marquee. Good lighting sequences.

Cher changes into a blue version of Take Me Home outfit.

Take Me Home: The video montage over the stage shows album covers whirling in a wheel. Lots of audience phones record this. I feel like the disco dancing has gotten better but maybe this is the same disco dancing from the other shows.

The movie/tv montage:  I saw part of a movie montage, as expected, before "After All" and if there was a TV montage, it's missing from online snippets of the show.

Cher changes into what I’m calling the angel fit, a variation of the outfit she wore for the encore of D2K where she sang “I Hope You Find It” with the angelic crown and the blonde hair. Same idea anyway with more bling and less braids.

Afterallclassic  D2kangel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Classic Cher After All Fit / D2K Angel Overhead Fit

After All: This scene is similar the Cher-on-gondola cruise over a misty river we saw from the Caesar’s show minus the hanging lights.

Caesars-afterAfter all at Casears

MemphisCher changes into her latest casual-fit, a pink top and jeans. 

Walking in Memphis: A great Memphis street set. I only glimpsed some of the wording on the street signs: “BB King’s Company Store.” This is the step-stool moment and she sounds good.

The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss): New gals plus 60s-style dancing.

Cher changes into her hole-fit with big 80s wig. Doll

I Found Someone: Similar to other shows with the guitarist moves on stage.

If I Could Turn Back Time: She throws off jacket. She seems peppier. She’s enjoying this show. Skips off stage.

The photo at the right cracked me up: one fan holding up a Cher doll for Cher to see.

For a while there are three Chers:  one on stage, on on the big screen, and the little one in the phones.

Phones

Cher changes into her Believe-fit which seems like a mash up of previous Believe-fits.

Believe: Cher either singing above the stage or a hologram. Can’t tell. There’s a crazy-fun interlude of lasers and sounds. Cher enters the stage in a red wig.

GermsAt this moment, Cher starts slapping the hands of front-row fans. Their germs make her sick.  

Promotion before the show:

Access Hollywood (talks about Sonny and asks, when will I cut my hair?)
Entertainment Tonight (Says she's not dying.)

 More Cher concert news:

Cher and Las Vegas have got each other again, babe (Reuters)

Review Journal Review 2

Did Beyoncé Mop Her Grammys Look From Cher?

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Fashion From Cher & Elton John’s Las Vegas Concerts (Footwear News)

  


My Stupid Obsession

Marquee2Every Cher fan goes through this at some time or another, the Cher show you have great tickets for (6th row!) gets cancelled. Two weekends ago, I was one of these fans who trekked out to Las Vegas right about when Cher cancelled a weekend of shows due to illness.

As I was crying in the bathrooms of Sam’s Town, (the casino that inspired The Killers album/song),  I counted and this would have been my 13th Cher concert. Poor me. Some fans have yet to see one. I wasn’t literally crying in the bathroom. I was drunk in the bathroom and still managed to count all the Cher shows I've been to. I literally cried three other times: an aggravation cry in the car on the way to Vegas (around Laughlin) when I got the tragic email from TicketBastard, one short ugly cry in the hotel bathroom where Mr. Cher Scholar couldn’t see it, and one long soulful cry after I got home, a cry that was just as much about the collapse of all that is good and holy in this world as it was over missing that Cher show, but nonetheless a cry initiated by watching a bootleg video of the new show's opening Cher descent.

My weekend in Vegas was full of rationalizations:

  1. For me it's more about the stuff, right? (I felt much better after being able to buy tour swag.)
  2. We gotta wean ourselves off Cher sometime, right?
  3. This show's gonna come out on DVD anyway.
  4. How can you blame Cher for touching bohemian hands and catching fevers?
  5. I'm too fat to sit in the 6th row anyway.
  6. Concerts aren’t my thing anyway, right? I dutifully go for the stuff (see #1).
  7. I've pretty much seen this show already.

Then why was I having such a dramatic crisis of the heart?

It’s not like going to Vegas to see Cher is some kind of pilgrimage, right? That's where celebrity obsession needs a body check. There was one woman outside the casino, close to Cher’s looming picture (above), literally sobbing into a friend's shoulder. For like a long time! I was hoping her cat had died or that she’d just experienced a traumatic breakup with a pathetic loser because I didn’t want to think she was crying (1) that hard (and 2) in public over missing a Cher show. But I surmise the greater distance and effort you spend on the trip to Vegas to see a Cher show, the harder the cry. I only drove from Albuquerque.

And there were other repercussions of a cancelled Cher show. We couldn’t get into any other shows, (no Diana Ross, no Beatles Cirque du Soilel, no Absinthe). Shows half full on Friday night booked up quickly by Saturday afternoon. All those damn Cher fans set adrift. I can’t tell you how my party salvaged this weekend, (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas), but I can tell you it involved a very hot Robin.

I have now been fully initiated as a Cher fan, long suffering. Some very muted highlights of the trip:

I went to the Park Theater anyway to see the Cher stands and promos and dragged Mr. Cher Scholar on a mission to photograph all three "era" posters:

StandupPoster Billboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Standup near the back door / poster in the lobby / billboard on the south end of the strip (click to enlarge).

CherslotsI was also able to play the Cher slot machine which was set up outside the Cher swag store. Mr. Cher Scholar had to sit through my playing it only twice (I get easily bored gambling). I was very amused at the slot symbols that were made to represent Cherness: leather jackets, tambourines, VIP concert passes.

Thingrepresentingcher
When I would hit anything big, loud Cher music would play for such a length of time that nearby gamblers would move seats for ten minutes until the machine stopped bellowing. Good footage of the drama. You're seat would also vibrate if you won or came close to a win. I hope someday these things are cheap enough for home purchase.

Because there is pop-culture grace left somewhere in the universe, the Monte Carlo Park Theater Cher swag store was still open and I was able to get a program. The swag store does have a few new things but many of the items are hand-me-downs from Dressed to Kill tour.

Cherstore Swagstore2

 

 

 

 

 

Lobbystore

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two sides of the big Cher store / the lobby store.

 

And the weekend wasn't entirely sucky with good food and good friends.

Notsosucky