Pop Shop Podcast: Bette Midler Reflects on 'Divine' Debut Album & Enduring Appeal of 'Hocus Pocus'

Courtesy of WBR
Bette Midler for Pop Shop Podcast

Welcome to a new episode of the Billboard.com Pop Shop Podcast, Billboard's weekly audio breakdown of the Billboard charts, hottest music news and the year's biggest musical events. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard co-director of charts Keith Caulfield and Billboard.com senior editor Katie Atkinson every Tuesday on the Pop Shop Podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in iTunes (click here to listen to the previous Tuesday’s edition of the show on Billboard.com).

On the new Pop Shop Podcast, we’re joined by the marvelous Bette Midler! The Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper and entertainment icon called in to the show to chat about the recent reissue of her debut album, The Divine Miss M, her role as an adviser on NBC’s The Voice alongside coach Blake Shelton, and how she’s heading to Broadway next year in the revival of Hello, Dolly! And of course, with Halloween right around the corner, we had to ask about her thoughts on the enduring appeal of her film Hocus Pocus and if there’s any news to report on a possible sequel.

“I really love this record,” the three-time Grammy Award-winner says of her debut album, calling it a “landmark” in her life. “I was so young. I was barely 28-years-old, and I think you hear it in my voice. It was this young voice, and this young spirit, this real joy at finding myself in this fantastic situation making a record at this age, and being surrounded by some of the greatest studio musicians that New York had to offer, as well as my own band -- the people that I had known and had been traveling with the last three or four years.”

Next year, Midler -- who received a special Tony Award in 1974 -- will hit the Broadway stage in the revival of Hello, Dolly!, and she says she’s in the early stages of preparing for the show, including learning some of the choreography.

“I've learned a little bit of the dancing, which is very interesting because I've never really danced like that,” Midler says. “I mean, I've always danced, but I never did choreography, you know where you have to actually be with 10 other people or 12 other people. I've never done that, so, it's a very steep learning curve. But I must say it's great, I love to dance! Everyone should dance. [Laughs] The weight just falls right off you! It's amazing.”

As for the lasting appeal of her 1993 family film Hocus Pocus, Midler says that -- aside from the “adorable and gorgeous” child actors in the film, and the “terrific” director and script -- she thinks the film endures because of the chemistry between her and her co-stars (and on-screen sister witches) Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker.

“I think that we were the Three Stooges, I really do,” Midler says, “I think that when people look at us, they can't help but laugh, because we were so ridiculous and we had so much chemistry together, that we're like an inseparable trio.”

And what about the persistent talk of a possible sequel? Midler is baffled that Walt Disney Pictures has yet to commission a follow-up movie. “I don't get it. I really don't get it,” she says. “It was a big success for them. Not at first, but as the years have gone on, it's gotten bigger and bigger.”

Midler jokes, “But Bob Iger [chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company] lives in my building. So maybe I'll kidnap him and ask him. Hold him for ransom.”

In addition to our conversation with Midler, we also have our usual chart chat! We discuss Kings of Leon's first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart with Walls (and how they’re one of a number of acts that had to wait a decade for their first No. 1), Maroon 5's new top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Don’t Wanna Know,” how Lady Gaga is aiming for her fourth No. 1 album with Joanne, and much more!

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