There are just two good things to say about the movie Mama Mia: Here We Go Again. First, Cher’s Gagaesque cameo as Sophie’s grandmother. Second, the icon had so much fun in the movie that it spurred her to release an entire album of ABBA songs. As Cher says, “I’ve always liked ABBA and I was reminded again of what great and timeless songs they wrote and started thinking ‘why not do an album of their music?’.” And so, Dancing Queens of the World, Rejoice! Gay Christmas has come early this year with the release of Dancing Queen, the living legend’s 26th album.
Some die hard ABBA fans have greeted the news with disdain. How very dare she? She can never compare with the original. Of course not. ABBA were unique, but so is Cher. This album is Cher’s interpretation of some of ABBA’s most popular songs, as well as a couple of less known gems. And she is not the first artiste to cover an ABBA song. Blancmange’s the Day before You Came, Portishead’s dark SOS, and Erasure’s campy Take a Chance on Me come to mind. But this is the first time that a star of this stature has released a complete album of ABBA songs
So how is it? As one would expect, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), a gay anthem if ever there was one, Dancing Queen, Waterloo, and Mamma Mia are dance floor stompers. But it’s with the ballads that Cher really shines on this album. SOS, often described as one of the most complex pop songs written, is brilliantly reinterpreted. The video, under the direction of Jake Wilson, is a loving pastiche of instantly recognisable ABBA iconography as well as a feminist anthem. The Winner Takes It All and One of Us are two of ABBA’s most gut-wrenching, emotional post-divorce laments, and Cher delivers each one with passion. The pared down arrangement on One of Us is particularly moving. Name of the Game, one of ABBA’s most underrated songs, has new life breathed into it. Fernando and Chiquitita (brilliant acoustic guitar, by the way) are beautifully reworked.
All in all, this is a classic pop album destined to be part of this summer’s soundtrack. Why wait till Christmas to spoil yourself!
Listen for yourself ….