Cher, Celine, Mariah bring diva magic to Boston


Last week Madonna canceled her three Boston shows (Madge said she was under her doctor’s orders). Thankfully, more queens are coming.

Between this Sunday and next Saturday, three divas will dominate our concert calendar: Cher performs at the TD Garden Sunday, Celine Dion headlines the arena Dec. 13 & 14, Mariah Carey mounts her Christmas spectacular Dec. 13 at the Wang. By all means, go to all three shows (if you have a spare grand laying around). But if you need to choose, here’s our Diva Week run down to help you make this tough decision.

CHER

Diva status: Unassailable. A pop chameleon before Madonna; 73 years old and still filling arenas.

The early hit: “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” — The first “comeback hit” in a string of returns and reinventions, this 1971 single was her first No. 1. It sits at the midpoint between her hippie roots and her campy, compelling Hollywood/showtune aesthetic.

Cher performs during the “Here We Go Again,” tour at the United Center on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, in Chicago. (Photo by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)

The mega hit: “Believe” — T-Pain needs to buy Cher a beer, sorry, make that a brewery. T-Pain ran with the Auto-Tune craze that Cher began. At 52, the singer topped the charts with a global dance hit, ubiquitous across America, Europe, Asia and Australia in the late ’90s

The song you came for: “If I Could Turn Back Time” — Corn covered in cheese then fried in sugar, this Diane Warren-penned song is also an ’80s pop masterpiece.

Do you absolutely have to see this diva now? Cher began her first farewell tour in 2002. It ran for three years. Then she toured again in 2014. This latest tour started in 2018 and is scheduled to end in 2020. Provided she can sing and stand up, or maybe just sing, she will be back after 2020. Of course, she is 73, so if you love her, yes, you have to see her now.

CELINE DION

Diva status: Solid but on a tier below the mononyms (Cher, Madonna, Beyonce)

The early hit: “Beauty and the Beast” — International audiences discovered Dion’s huge voice when the Canadian teamed with Peabo Bryson for the theme song of the 1991 Disney blockbuster. Schmaltzy, even by Disney standards, it became the standard for duets from animated movies (odd that there’s a standard for that, but there is).

The mega hit: “My Heart Will Go On” — Dion has had a lot of smashes off soundtracks. Nothing compares to this. Ten to one odds you are singing this song right now in your head as you picture yourself, arms wide, hair blown back, at the bow of a ship.

The song you came for: “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” — Dion’s voice is often drowned in middling mawkishness. This one puts her in the middle of exceptional mawkishness. Written by Meatloaf-mastermind Jim Steinman and featuring Springsteen piano ace Roy Bittan, nothing tops this song for maudlin, melodramatic power.

Do you absolutely have to see this diva now? No. Dion will do three or four dozen shows a year in Vegas for the next 20 years.

MARIAH CAREY

Diva status: Off the charts yet always in question (why is a woman who has out-sold both Cher and Celine playing to the fewest seats?)

The early hit: “Emotions” — Yes, she charted long before this, but this song made the world understand Mariah’s voice was singular.

Mariah Carey performs during a concert celebrating Dubai Expo 2020 One Year to Go in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

The mega hit: “Always Be My Baby” — The tune has a surprisingly sophisticated bridge while remaining midtempo, chill and fun, and, in a minor miracle, this song dominated without being a dance jam or ballad.

The song you came for: Please, let’s not pretend it’s anything other than “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

Do you absolutely have to see this diva now? Her career has been so strange it’s impossible to know what will come next. Short answer: Yes.



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