Cher first came to our attention as one half of the duo Sonny and Cher in the 1960s. After branching out as a solo artist, she became one of the top female pop artists of the early 70s, only for her fortunes to take a nosedive during the second half of the decade. But Cher is nothing if not a survivor, and no sooner had she been written off as yesterday’s news, she was back at the top. Since then, she’s gone through multiple lows, numerous highs, and countless reinventions to emerge as one of the most beloved entertainers of the past half-century. Here’s how we rank all the Cher albums from worst to best.
26. Love Hurts
Love Hurts, Cher’s twelfth studio album, was released on June 13 1991 to moderate chart success, peaking at No. 48 on the Billboard 200. It’s since been certified Gold in the US and 3x Multi-Platinum in the UK. But despite its commercial success, it’s far from her finest moment. With the exception of the excellent A World Without Heroes, the album is insipid, with bland vocals and formulaic arrangements.
In 1968, Cher encountered her first commercial failure with her fifth album, Backstage. Consisting largely of covers, it failed to chart. Despite a couple of highlights, most of the performances sound mailed in, with few of the songs possessing that magic spark that characterizes her best work.
24. Bittersweet White Light
Bittersweet White Light, Cher’s ninth studio album, was her first big commercial failure. Released in April 1973, it stalled at a disappointing No. 140 on the Billboard 200 and failed to chart in either Europe or Canada. The vocals are strong, but the bland covers of American pop standards make it one for die-hard fans only.
Cherished was a commercial flop, failing to chart either in the US or anywhere else. It was ignored by critics and despised by Cher herself, who later admitted that she was dissatisfied with the final result, hated making the album, and only made it because of contractual obligations.
22. I’d Rather Believe In You
Following the abject failure of Stars, Cher really needed a hit. She didn’t get one. I’d Rather Believe In You got zero promotion, failed to chart, and was widely ignored by both critics and the world at large. Only one single was released- Long Distance Love Affair – but it failed to make even the slightest dent in the charts.
Cher has encountered several commercial failures over her career, but few have flopped quite so badly as her 12th studio album, Stars. A covers album of rock and pop hits, Cher’s earnest performance was completely out of touch with the prevailing music trends of the day. Almost inevitably, it failed to make a ripple, peaking at No. 153 on the Billboard charts and going largely ignored by the music press.
20. With Love, Chér
Cher’s fourth studio album, With Love, Chér, was released in November 1967 to moderate chart success, peaking at No. 47 on the Billboard 200. Described by All Music as having “more meat than filler” for a ’60s album, there’s a lot to like about the record, including a phenomenal cover of the love theme from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, I Will Wait for You. Not all of the songs work (her covers of The Times They Are A-Changin’ and Hey Joe are hard to swallow), but overall, it’s pleasant listening.
Chér, the singer’s eponymous third studio album, was released on September 5, 1966. Consisting largely of covers (although Sonny Bono, who also produced the album, did contribute one original song), it was a minor commercial success, peaking at number 59 on the Billboard Chart.
18. The Sonny Side Of Cher
Cher’s second studio album, The Sonny Side Of Cher, was released on March 28, 1966. Like most of her early albums, it consists largely of folk, rock, and pop covers, along with a couple of new songs contributed by her then-husband Sonny Bono (who also provides the inspiration for the album title). Boosted by the success of the top 10 single Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down), the album was a hit, reaching number 26 on the Billboard 200. Reviews were mixed, with Billboard calling it “well-produced” and “well performed” but All Music deriding it as “nothing more than a chuckle-inducing curiosity.”
17. Foxy Lady
Foxy Lady is Cher’s eighth studio album. Released on July 10, 1972, it enjoyed only minor chart success but a positive reception from critics, who praised the strong production work of Sonny Bono and Snuff Garrett, as well as Cher’s rich expression on standout tracks like Living in a House Divided, It Might As Well Stay Monday (From Now On), and Down, Down, Down.
16. I Paralyze
I Paralyze, Cher’s seventeenth studio album, failed to chart on its release in May 28, 1982. However, time has been kind to the album, and its selection of soft rock and pop ballads is far from unpleasant. Standout tracks include Rudy and the piano-driven ballad, When the Love is Gone.
15. All I Really Want to Do
In August 1965, Cher proved she was more than just Sonny Bono’s sidekick with her debut solo album, All I Realy Want to Do. Consisting of a strong collection of contemporary folk-pop covers, it was well-received by critics and fans alike, charting at number 16 on the US Billboard 200 and number 7 on the UK Albums Chart.
14. 3614 Jackson Highway
Released in June 1969, Cher’s sixth studio album, 3614 Jackson Highway, was a commercial failure, stalling at a disappointing number 160 in the album charts. However, it was greeted warmly by critics, who praised Cher’s mature vocals and the album’s elegant arrangements.
Cher wrote the material for not.com.mercial in 1994, but after presenting it to her record label, they declined it for not being commercial. Six years later, Cher released it exclusively through Cher.com, at which point it picked up positive reviews from critics for its versatility and depth. It’s slightly muddled, but the breadth of ambition and surprisingly dark material makes it essential listening for fans.
Like much of Cher’s 1970s output, Prisoner was a commercial flop, panned by critics and ignored by music fans. But as metroweekly.com notes, while it failed to hold the charts hostage, it’s still captivating, crammed with hard-hitting rock numbers that were never going to go anywhere in the disco obsessed charts of 1979, but have stood the test of time remarkably well.
11. Take Me Home
Cher should have been a much better disco diva than she actually was, but the genre at least gave her one of her biggest hits – something that by the close of the 1970s, she was sorely in need of. As thetalko.com says, Take Me Home was a breakthrough for the singer after a series of flops, charting at number 25 on the Billboard 200 and certifying gold.
10. Half Breed
Half-Breed was released in September 1973 to moderate success, reaching number 28 on the Billboard 200. Although the production is weak, Cher’s powerful vocals carry the album, especially on the standout title track, which reached number one on the Hot 100 on its release as a single.
9. Dancing Queen
Cher’s latest studio album, Dancing Queen, was released on September 28, 2018. A huge commercial success, it debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 and in the top ten in another 18 countries. It also went down well with critics, with Entertainment Weekly calling it Cher’s “most significant release since 1998’s Believe.”
8. Closer to the Truth
Cher’s twenty-fifth studio album was released on September 20, 2013, to a warm reception. Cher has described Closer to the Truth as “very eclectic” and “her best album ever”, and while it’s some way short of that, it’s a hugely fun, well-balanced album with an incredibly strong vocal performance from Cher.
7. Living Proof
Although Cher gets a little carried away with the Auto-Tune on Living Proof, it’s still a strong album, with even its weakest tracks still standing up as high-energy club bangers. Fans clearly appreciated it, sending it to number 6 on the US Billboard 200 and number 46 in the UK. It also performed strongly in Europe, and has since sold over 1 million copies worldwide.
6. It’s a Man’s World
Cher’s twenty-first studio album, It’s a Man’s World, was released on November 6, 1995, to positive reviews. Of its mix of torchy ballads and country and western-themed epics, Walking in Memphis stands out as a particular highlight. In Europe, the album was a big hit, reaching number 10 on the UK Albums chart and peaking inside the top 20 in several European countries. It fared less well elsewhere, peaking at number 64 on the US Billboard 200 and number 46 in Canada.
5. Dark Lady
Dark Lady, Cher’s 11th studio album, was the last of her releases to receive the benefit of promotion on “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour Show.” Despite generating a number one hit in the shape of the titular track, the album itself was only a moderate success, reaching a disappointing number 69 on the Billboard 200. But despite its lowly position in the charts, it’s still a fine album, with a fun setlist, strong vocals, and superb production.
After the commercial disappointment of 1995’s It’s a Man’s Word, Cher’s record label began pushing her to release a more mainstream, dance-oriented album. The result was Believe, an album that connected with a new generation of listeners and propelled Cher back into the limelight. In addition to peaking at number four on the Billboard 200 and certifying 4x multi-platinum in the US, the album charted in the top 10 in France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and numerous other countries, and reached the number one spot in several more.
Five years after Cher took a self-imposed hiatus from recording to concentrate on her budding film career, she returned to the charts with her self-titled eighteenth studio album. Released in November 1987, it became her biggest hit in years, reaching number 26 in the UK and number 32 on the US Billboard 200. Key highlights include the Madonna-esque Skin Deep and the beautiful ballad Main Man.
2. Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves
Released in September 1971 after several commercially disappointing albums, Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves gave Cher her first of many comebacks. Praised for its lush orchestral frameworks and sensational vocals, it became one of her biggest hits to date, reaching number 16 on the US Billboard 200 and picking up a Grammy Award for Best Pop Female Vocalist.
1. Heart of Stone
Although Cher has enjoyed some of her biggest successes with dance-orientated albums, she’s always been able to rock with the best of them – as demonstrated by the superb Heart of Stone. The arrangements might be poppy, but the gritty edge and raw honesty of her delivery elevate the material from standard pop fare to something much harder, heavier, and altogether more compelling. Released in June 1989, it was a commercial and critical smash, charting in the top 10 in the US, UK, Canada, and numerous other countries. To date, it’s sold over 4 million records worldwide.