After launching their career in the early ’60s as backing singers, Sonny and Cher reached worldwide attention in 1965 with the release of their mega-selling single, I Got You Babe. Over the next decade, they released numerous other hit singles, broke into light entertainment with The Sonny & Cher Show, and won armies of fans around the world. Eventually, Cher went solo, Sonny got into politics, and the couple’s marriage collapsed, but even if their partnership didn’t last, they’re still rightly remembered as one of the greatest duos of all time. Here, we look back on some of their greatest moments with our pick of the 10 best Sonny and Cher songs of all time.
10. But You’re Mine
Kicking off our list of the 10 best Sonny and Cher songs of all time is a song described by Billboard as an “exciting ballad with an offbeat message.” Written about a couple who don’t fit into society but are still happy because they have each other, the song reached number 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 17 in the UK.
9. Mama Was a Rock and Roll Singer, Papa Used to Write All Her Songs
By the mid-1970s, Sonny and Cher’s marriage was on the brink of collapse. Even listeners unaware of their troubles would have guessed something was up from this strange but utterly bewitching song from 1974, which opens with a riot of screeching guitars and gets ever wackier from there. Released as the duo’s last ever single, it reached number 77 in the US.
8. A Cowboy’s Work Is Never Done
By 1972, Cher’s solo career was on the up and the days of Sonny and Cher were drawing to a close. Their last ever top ten single as a duo was A Cowboy’s Work Is Never Done. Written by Sonny and released as a single from the album All I Ever Need Is You, it peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. Just You
When Just You was first released in April 1965, Sonny and Cher were still unknowns and no one paid any attention. Then I Got You Babe came along and turned them into megastars, prompting their record label to re-release it in October that year. That time around, it became a success, reaching number 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100. In her autobiography, The First Time, Cher has called it her favorite ever song from the duo.
6. Baby Don’t Go
Sonny wrote Baby Don’t Go on a piece of cardboard late one night at the couple’s home, bashing out the music on their old piano. The original plan was for Cher to sing it as a solo recording, but when nerves got the better of her in the recording studio, Sonny jumped in, resulting in one of the duo’s most memorable songs together.
5. All I Ever Need Is You
All I Ever Need Is You was first recorded by Ray Charles for his 1971 album, Volcanic Action of My Soul. Later that year, Sonny and Cher turned it into an international hit when they released it as a single from their album of the same name. The song (which subsequently earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals) spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 7, and five weeks at the top of the US Easy Listening chart. It also broke into the top ten in both the UK and Canada, eventually selling over 2,250,000 copies worldwide.
4. It’s the Little Things
In 1967, Sonny and Cher made their movie debut in Good Times. The film flopped hard, losing over a million dollars at the box office and earning the duo some of the worst reviews of their career. The soundtrack didn’t fare much better, stalling at number 73 on the Billboard 200. But commercial failings aside, it did at least give us It’s the Little Things, a lovely pop ditty featuring a beautifully nuanced performance from Cher. The single failed to break into the top 40 in the US, but climbed all the way to number 3 in the Canadian charts.
3. The Beat Goes On
Ostensibly an ode to the swinging sixties, but with just enough knowing irony to make it much more than just another hippy anthem, The Beat Goes on become a huge hit for Sonny and Cher in 1967, taking them to number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching the top 20 in various other countries. After Sonny’s death in 1998, his tombstone was engraved with the line “And the beat goes on.”
2. Little Man
They might have shared the same clothes and hairstyles as their contemporaries, but Sonny and Cher were never part of the counterculture, preferring to coast along the middle of the road than risk their necks on the cutting edge of sixties rock. Their lack of hipness might have become their undoing in the end, but it at least gave us the likes of Little Man, a charming piece of cabaret that gave the duo one of the biggest chart successes of their career, reaching number 21 in the US and topping the charts across various European countries.
1. I Got You Babe
When Sonny first played I Got You Babe to Cher, she didn’t like it. After a few more tweaks from Sonny, the song finally met her standards – and the rest of the world’s with it. Released in 1965, it sent the pair’s career stratospheric, taking them to number one in the UK, the US, and Canada and entering the top 10 in various other countries. Over 50 years later, it’s still as irresistible as ever.