This summer, Cher gifted “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” viewers with a tantalizing tease of her versatile ability to recreate Swedish pop group ABBA’s classics in her powerful renditions of “Fernando” and “Super Trouper,” an ability that she successfully carries over to her 26th studio album “Dancing Queen.”
Released on Friday, “Dancing Queen” is Cher’s first studio album solely dedicated to a single artist in her six-decade-long career. She wowed long-time fans and “Mamma Mia” fans alike with her featured role in the movie’s long-awaited sequel, appearing as Ruby Sheridan, absent grandmother of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and mother of Donna (Meryl Streep). Shortly after the release of the popular movie, Cher revealed her intention to release a full-length cover album of ABBA classics, much to the excitement of the industry.
Despite the plethora of popular ABBA songs, Cher kept her album strictly to a short 10-track listing. After listening to the album, one could only hope to hear a performance of “Honey, Honey” and “Take a Chance on Me” in the artist’s unmistakeable contralto singing voice. However, with a short listing, Cher is able to pour her focus and love into carefully selected songs, ones that not only represent the range of ABBA’s established sound but also allow her to masterfully recreate the songs in a clever and refreshing style. She still includes some of the most popular and recognizable songs, such as “Dancing Queen” (obviously), “Mamma Mia” and “Waterloo.”
ABBA’s original sound exudes a distinct 70s pop vibe, but Cher is surprisingly able to utilize synth and autotune to revive the music in an ingenious, modern way that still showcases her naturally robust voice. All the songs on the album were produced by Mark Taylor, save for “Fernando,” which was produced by ABBA’s Benny Andersson for “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”
On songs like “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” and “SOS,” Cher is able to update their sound with the echoing backing synth vocals in the choruses and turn the dark pop sound into an explosive extravaganza. In some of the more raw songs on the album, such as “One of Us” and “The Winner Takes It All,” Cher is able to showcase their emotional depth by delivering the weight of the lyrics in a dramatic, yet sophisticated fashion.
The skillful dichotomy of stripping away some backing synths, but keep a light-hearted mid-tempo paves the way for “One of Us” to be one of the album’s crowning ballad. The song usually sounds more upbeat in ABBA’s original version and in “Mamma Mia,” but the simple piano and strings allows Cher to turn the song into one of her own. Fun, sweet songs that one can’t help but dance to, such as “Waterloo,” “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia” are transformed into blissful, euphoric bops that remind listeners of their irresistible catchiness.
“[My songs] are a lot freer… I got swept up in the fun of it,” Cher said in an interview with the New York Times from earlier this month, speaking about her time creating the album.
Not meant to take itself too seriously, “Dancing Queen” comes at a clever time, riding on the wave of success from “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.” However, Cher is right to take advantage of the opportune time and caters to everyone’s high expectations. Even when recreating another pop legend’s discography, she is able to deliver the songs as her own and in a way which even the original creators respect and praise. No one is coming to take her throne anytime soon.
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.