Tuesday 20 March 2018

A Breath of Fresh Cher


Conor Behan

The power of a diva

Cher's appearance on X Factor a couple of weeks ago provoked the expected gripes about her age – mutton and lamb.

But whether she's 67 or 17, Cher's ability to cut through the PR sheen of pop music feels more relevant than ever.

Her Twitter timeline has become infamous for being upfront about pretty much everything, from label struggles to her biting responses to cheeky fans. Dealing with dyslexia means that Cher regularly fudges her spelling and struggles to grasp the proper ways to compose tweets, but, those struggles aside, she's speaking her mind online in a way few stars ever do.

When her airbrushed-to-oblivion cover for new album Closer To The Truth appeared, Cher used Twitter to show various untouched versions of the same image. It showed her willingness to poke fun at her own likeness, and her self-awareness and refreshing lack of vanity.

A duet with Lady Gaga never made it on to the album, and even before an unfinished version of the track leaked, Cher was happy to talk about the song on the social networks and how she was unhappy with the final product.

Cher's not just on social networks saying, "I AM OLDER THAN FIRE, &TWICE AS HOT" (the caps and punctuation are hers), she's discussing everything in interviews with a frankness that'd make Rihanna blush.

From gleefully reminiscing about her days dating Tom Cruise and how it "was pretty hot and heavy" to joking that she is a 100 years old, she harks back to a time when star personas were less PR fluff and more honest, fun and upfront in interviews.

Recent interviews have seen her joke with the Italian press that Madonna is a "magic bitch" and provided some of the best points on the Miley Cyrus VMA performance. She told US TV, "I just don't like to see things done badly." The fact that Cher's taken an old Cyrus song (I Hope You Find It) for her new album also saw her eat some humble pie, something she did with a dose of her usual good humour.

Cher's directness reminds you how much of today's pop crop could do with a little bit more bite. Imagine Beyoncé tweeting, "SIT ON YOUR OWN DAMN FACE!! IM BUSY !!!" to a fan? It'd cause a press meltdown. For Cher, it's just a standard response to social-network nuisances.

There's a serious side to her public persona too. Tweets about political issues appear frequently and she recently turned down a gig at Russia's Winter Olympics in protest at their current treatment of the LGBT community. Cher's gay icon badge is well-earned and her honest discussion of her son Chaz's experience of being transgender only aids that. She appeared in the well-received documentary Becoming Chaz and answers questions about her son with a warmth that changes the kind of things we hear about transgender people in the media.

At the tail end of the '90s, Cher landed one of the biggest hits with Believe. Strangely, pop music feels more con-servative now, not interest-ed in any-one over a certain age no matter how of the minute the music may be.

And even if a hit like Believe eludes Cher this time round, her inability to speak anything but the truth remains her greatest asset.

Irish Independent

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