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Killacky: Cher's New World

http://www.vpr.net/audio/programs/56/2012/11/11272012_vpr_killacky.mp3

(Host) Recently, commentator John Killacky, executive director of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, has been reflecting upon a pop icon's longevity and relevance in a career that has - so far - spanned six decades.

(Killacky) Fifty years ago an overly mascaraed teenybopper waif was a backup singer for Phil Spector studio sessions with boyfriend Sonny Bono. In 1965 the duo had their own number one hit, I Got You Babe. Since then, Cher has persevered with talent and forthrightness: living life on her terms, morphing herself unabashedly in public, while tantalizing us with her bad boy romances, tattooed bodyparts, fashion faux pas, and plastic surgeries.

Pop careers usually last only a few years. Not so with Cher. Every time the zeitgeist passed her by, she reinvented herself and came back stronger -collagened lips, tri-color wigs, air brushed photos, and all. Hippie folk rocker, television comedian, Vegas shtick, award winning actress, and infomercial queen, she kept singing in every incarnation. She's the only artist to score a No. 1 single on the Billboard charts in each of the last six decades with her story songs, pop ditties, love duets, power ballads, and disco hits.

With Cher we were always guaranteed spectacle: over-the-top fabulous bejeweled Bob Mackie costumes, bugle beads for miles, Goth headpieces, sparkly fishnets, and mink capes. And those of us who saw it, will never forget the infamous X-rated underwear as she skipped around on a navy battleship while singing If I Could Turn Back Time?

In the late 90s, the Lazarus of pop returned once more with the techno-smash Believe. There should have been something ridiculous about a middle-aged superstar playing the role of a love sick, love lost, love starved club diva. Instead, she made herself matter to yet another new generation of music fans, as she trip-hopped her way through this surprising delight. Believe became her best selling song.

Well, pop culture's uber-goddess is at it again. Our priestess of glam is getting ready to release her first new album in twelve years. The lead single is just out. Woman's World is a massive uplifting anthem, so full of resurgent hooks I can't get it out of my head. Verses and choruses cascade and are synthesized together resulting in a feel good glissando of empowerment and joy. Other enticing cuts promised on the new CD include a divalicious duet with the mega-star of the moment Lady Gaga and two songs written by Pink.

I'm too old to be on the dance floor much these days, but I'm once again thrilled by Cher, emboldened by her dogged determination. Now 66 years old, with yet another comeback hit, she's going on the road next year. While she probably won't tour in our Green Mountain State, Boston, Montreal, and New York will be close enough for me.

John Killacky is the executive director of Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington.
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