Riding on the heels of the ABBA discography’s success, Cher’s cover album “Dancing Queen” has just been officially released. From those who previewed her singles in anticipation to being able to finally listen to the entire album from top to bottom, “Dancing Queen” is a truly stand-alone piece of Cher’s music.
For her first complete cover of a singular artist, Cher expertly gives ABBA’s songs new life. However, her album is split nearly in two, the first half composed of brilliant renditions of some of the greatest dance hits in existence, the second composed of excessively stylized ballads that fall flat.
The first track, as well as the album’s titular song, falls into this first category. “Dancing Queen” immediately showcases Cher’s unique sound and style in a classic dance-floor hit. Next on the tracklist is “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).” Cher brings exciting originality to this familiar favorite, creating a remixed canon in the bridge while driving deeper into the disco beat.
Two songs further along in the album also fall into the category of undeniable bops: “SOS” and “Waterloo.” “SOS” was the first single released before the album and it serves to encapsulate this cover album even more than its titular song “Dancing Queen” does. Next up, “Waterloo,” is ABBA’s Eurovision hit accentuated by incredible saxophone melodies and toe-tapping beats. Here, Cher is at her best, magnificently crooning this fan favorite.
Unfortunately, many of the other covers didn’t hold to the same merit. In the tail end of the track list, Cher’s cover of “Mamma Mia,” the song that sparked the resurgence of ABBA’s hit on the stage and screen, was not up to par. The singer relied too heavily on autotune in the chorus, and I was left only wanting to hear Meryl Streep sing it. My opinion held towards another song featured in the “Mamma Mia” film — “The Winner Takes It All” was better in the movies. Cher’s vibe in “Dancing Queen” similarly removed much of the authenticity of the song’s story.
Turning towards the screen versions of ABBA’s hits, it’s impossible to forget Cher’s cameo in the star-studded “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” this summer, where her greatest moment was the “Fernando” duet with Andy Garcia. Expect an identical sound in the cover version, minus Garcia’s rich sound to support her.
There are few exceptions to this turn in the album’s latter half — the songs “Chiquitita” and “One of Us.” “Chiquitita” provides a necessary change of pace in the lineup with its soulful melody. Driven by the expert plucking of the guitar, the melody captures a swaying Latin beat, and it is just beautiful. “One of Us” closes out the album with the strongest ballad on the track list. It’s a lovely reminiscence on not only Cher’s own work but the impact that ABBA songs have had on all music fans.