It’s been a solid five months since PW last pitted some divas at each other’s throats. It doesn’t take much: dropping a record or sharing separate city stages on the same night or in the same week, maybe dropping a single that jockeys for another pop master’s top chart position. This week, Miley Cyrus and the incomparable Cher visit the Wells Fargo Center six days apart. Typically, in the Diva Death Match world, I’ll take that as a white glove to the face—a frigid and intimidating stare. En garde!
We’ve applied the same five point-earning categories in every installment of this diva-celebrating contest, and Cyrus and Cher are no exception. They’re suited up—Cher in a Bob Mackie robe and Miley in plastic-wrap coochie cutters—and they look ready to do battle. Let’s see what happens!
Neither of these gals have a shred of real-deal street cred. But Cyrus tries (way too hard) to claim urban “realness” and—in grand fashion, thanks to “We Can’t Stop”—fails pretty miserably. Her large women-of-color props are red flags. You ain’t ‘hood, girl: You can throw on a grill and light up a blunt, but we all know you’re Billy Ray’s former-child-star daughter from Richkidville, Tennessee. Cher, on the other hand, has been around so long and done so many legit collaborations with artists who have genuine “urban radio” appeal, she’s like the O.G. of divas. You do not fuck with her.
Cyrus: 1, Cher: 3
SINGLES AND SALES
Clearly, if we were looking at sheer numbers, Cher has a whopping 25 albums to her name, including ‘98’s wildly successful Believe. But Cyrus’ Bangerz is less than a year old, and it’s platinum. Her singles have moved many units, and she shows no sign of slowing down. At this point, she’s poised to keep selling millions of records by shitting on the mic in the studio and having Nelly rap a verse while Mike WiLL Made It cleans it up. The children will cough it up on iTunes. That doesn’t stop Cher superfans from going out and buying every new record she puts out on vinyl, disc, tape and any other hard-copy format you can find.
Cyrus: 5, Cher: 4
The all-encompassing X-factor can really give a gal the edge. And fierceness can register on the radars of style, grace, dance abilities, showmanship, star power or simply glamour. There are certainly droves of queer people and folks born before 1970 who will swear that Cher is the epitome of a fierce diva. She has that regal, self-aware, surreal superstar status but doesn’t even seem to try—she’s like the Queen of Barely Moving. And while I’ve applauded Cyrus’ go-fuck-yourself attitude and blatant pot-smoking badassery, she ain’t that fierce. Who will ever forget her gross MTV Video Music Awards performance, backing up that flat azz onto Robin Thicke’s prison-striped crotch? S’gonna be tough to live that lowpoint down.
Cyrus: 2, Cher: 4
Strangely, this is a pretty weird category for these two. Do you love Cher because she can wail like a goat with elegance? Do Cyrus superfans not love her lawnmower hum? In the last half of her career, Cher’s taken to over-the-top ridiculous and super-produced dancefloor anthems that seem like pretty trite gay fodder. (Have you given 2013’s Closer to the Truth a spin? Listen to “Take It Like A Man,” and try not to smirk and raise eyebrows.) But it’s still great. And even though Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” doesn’t have much room for vocal performance, “Wrecking Ball” and “Adore You” do. Cher’s looking strong, but Cyrus turned up the heat in this round.
Cyrus: 3, Cher: 3
Cher was in “Moonstruck,” and her video for “If I Could Turn Back Time” in ‘89—Miley wasn’t born yet—was banned by MTV for her risque clothing. She’s got an Oscar, a Grammy, an Emmy, Golden Globes and a Cannes award. And though Cyrus has probably got some Kid’s Choice Awards on a mantle somewhere and will pick up a few boring Billboard Music Awards, she ain’t got shit on Cher. The ref—oh, look, it’s Cyndi Lauper!—raises Cher’s bejeweled arm. Maybe next time, youngster.
Cyrus: 4, Cher: 5
Cher: 19, Cyrus: 15.
Miley Cyrus: Tues., April 22, 7pm. $49.50-$89.50. Cher: Mon., April 28, 7:30pm. $25-$156. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St. wellsfargocenterphilly.com
The Pack A.D. are built for the road
PW's Music Issue 2014