Ultimate diva Cher is finally back with her first studio album in over a decade: "Closer to the Truth." The Warner Bros. Records effort arrives today (Sept. 24) in the U.S. and Canada, and is her first since 2002's "Living Proof." (The new album hits the rest of the world on Sept. 30.) Billboard sat down with the Grammy Award-winning superstar at her oceanfront home in Malibu, California, to talk about the new album. In the first part of our interview, the entertainer chats about what she looks for when selecting songs, covering Miley Cyrus, her admiration of P!nk and much more.
|Cher's 33 Most Outrageous Outfits|
"Closer to the Truth" offers up an array of cinematic and super dramatic tunes. The 11-song set opens with its first single, the female-empowerment anthem "Woman's World," which hit No. 1 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart in August.
"The first half of the album are the songs that you play before you're going out to dance," Cher says, "and the second [half] are the ones that you play after you've come home."
Among them are emotional ballads ("I Hope You Find It," the 9/11-inspired "Sirens"), a super-campy dance track ("Dressed to Kill") and plucky mid-tempo cuts (the catchy "Red" and the P!nk-written "I Walk Alone").
|Cher Announces 'Dressed To Kill' Tour|
"I love 'Dressed to Kill,'" Cher says of the track, which is a cover of a 2009 song by British singer Preston. "It's one of my favorites just because it's so over-the-top."
"It's just more fun," she continues, "You know, it's just very gay! I like that."
The tune, with its vivid lyrics ("We're dancing in the dark with my hands around your heart") recalls Cher's story-songs of the 1970s like "Half-Breed" and "Dark Lady." One can easily imagine this number being staged on Cher's upcoming 'Dressed to Kill' concert tour. Cue the dancers flinging themselves around on stage as Cher spins in a "killer" Bob Mackie-designed outfit!
For the album's second single, "I Hope You Find It," Cher turns in a "country-esque" version of a semi-obscure song first performed by Miley Cyrus in 2010.
"Love songs are [usually about] 'I'm looking for love' or 'I've lost love,'" Cher says, which stands in contrast with the lyrical content of "I Hope You Find It."
"They're usually not 'I found love, I lost love, and now I hope you find love with someone else.' Usually we're not that charitable."
And it wouldn't be a Cher album without vocoder-like effects on her vocals. (The diva famously employed vocal manipulation to great impact on her No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 single "Believe" way back in 1998.) The technique is back again on "Closer to the Truth." On the set's second track, "Take It Like a Man," she Cherbotically harmonizes with Scissor Sisters' front man Jake Shears.
"What we did with his voice is so strange," Cher told Billboard in an earlier interview in August, "but I know he's gonna love it." The diva says she loves Shears, and that "Take It Like a Man" is one of her "favorite tracks."
Cher says the song is "very double-entendre," adding that "it's a beautiful song that's crazy and raucous, and rocks out and is a great dance song." Sample lyric: "So when the lights go dark / I wanna know you understand / that if you want my heart / you gotta take it like a man."
Shears is one of two special guests on the album. Also on board is P!nk, who shares the same management as Cher and co-wrote two tunes on "Closer to the Truth."
When asked about P!nk, Cher remarked about her fellow diva's no-nonsense, what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude.
"I admire anybody for standing up for what they believe -- man or woman, I don't care. Having beliefs -- especially if other people don't agree with you -- it's difficult in this day and age.
P!nk co-wrote the album's banjitar-enhanced "I Walk Alone," and also provides backing vocals on the cut. A lyric in the song proved to be so powerful, it became the title of the album. In it, Cher sings "There's a gypsy in me that keeps on roaming, and there's an anger as I get closer to the truth."
P!nk also co-wrote the album's closing number, the weepy "Lie To Me." Cher says the latter is "the ballad that all the women cry at."
Part two of the Billboard.com video interview with Cher will be posted later this week.