CHER: LOVE HURTS (1991)
1) Save Up All Your Tears; 2) Love Hurts; 3) Love And Understanding; 4) Fires Of Eden; 5) I'll Never Stop Loving You; 6) Could've Been You; 7) One Small Step; 8) A World Without Heroes; 9) When Love Calls Your Name; 10) When Lovers Become Strangers; 11) Who You Gonna Believe; 12) The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)*.
Third time's the charm? Not a general rule. The Eighties are formally over, but we are still living in the pre-Nevermind era, and so Love Hurts faithfully follows the formula that brought Cher back to commercial success — and why, pray tell, should anybody expect otherwise? Here we have eleven more anthemic glam rockers and power ballads, contributed by old friends and newcomers; no more Bon Jovi or Michael Bolton, but a whole three songs from Diane Warren this time, of which ʽLove And Understandingʼ, strongly echoing Olivia Newton-John's ʽMagicʼ in rhythm and melody, but updated for the modern dance-pop era, charted the highest — still nowhere near as high as the singles from Heart Of Stone, though. People were getting tired.
Strangely, the first song from the album, ʽSave Up All Your Tearsʼ, did not chart that high, even if it essentially repeats the formula of ʽIf I Could Turn Back Timeʼ — danceable, powerful, chorus-wise catchy, not particularly irritating, in short, probably the best song on the entire record (that's not saying much, though). Perhaps it was because people were already familiar with the original (and somewhat inferior in terms of singing, though equally generic in terms of musical arrangement) version by Bonnie Tyler, or perhaps it did reflect the trend of people getting tired of stereotypical glam-pop; whatever the case, it's a bit of a fun opener.
After that, though, it's just one bore after another. It does not help that Cher occasionally turns to classics (the title track is one of those old torch ballads that heavy rock artists take a liking to for some strange reason — I cringed when Nazareth were doing it, so why should I be enjoying a Cher version? this is not the kind of material she'd do convincingly even with a soft rock arrangement...), or hits upon a very strange idea, such as covering ʽA World Without Heroesʼ from KISS' Music From "The Elder" (I first thought this was due to Cher dating Gene Simmons, but apparently that was over by 1980, so the idea hardly counts as a loving memento) — and turning it into a crazy mess of synthesizer fanfares and booming drums, over which she looms large with her most tragic intonations, as if this really meant something.
But nothing really means anything on this album, except for the single permeating thought — keep on being relevant! be on (M)TV! get a hit! stay afloat! I am not saying that there are no decent melodic ideas anywhere in sight — it is simply not very interesting to hunt for these ideas when the album as a whole sounds so sterile, formulaic, calculated, and monotonous. When you get to the bonus track, a modernized version of ʽThe Shoop Shoop Songʼ, it's almost like a last merciful breath of fresh air in comparison — a much-needed reminder that simple pop music had not always been like this, and that, while it may not have been much smarter in the past, it used to at least sound more innocent, charming, and just plain fun. Now, instead, it's like you are required to take this synth-pop shit seriously — so please excuse me if I decide to "save up all my tears" and give the record another predictable thumbs down.