The music and film industries have long ran in parallel to one another. The cult of celebrity often means that once a celebrity brand has been created, they can cash in on all sorts of industries, including music, film, books, perfumes, fashion – the list is endless. However, if you ask a book critic to give you a list of his best books of the year, how likely is he to give you a title by Madonna? A perfume expert probably isn’t going to list Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely as one of his favourites. SJP may well be one of TV’s biggest stars and Madonna the world’s biggest popstar, but these additional facets of their brand exist solely because of the sheer power of their fame.
There are many movie stars who can sing. Performers like this year’s Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway often surprise you with the quality of their voice when they star in a musical. And sometimes they have their own bands, or release solo records, and sometimes their music careers can take over (take Jennifer Lopez or Thirty Seconds To Mars’ Jared Leto for example). But in all these cases, one industry or the other takes over; for a while it was unclear whether Will Smith was a rapper or an actor, but his box office power grew, of course his music careers has been put to one side.
Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Beyonce; all have forayed into the film industry, banking on the power of their stardom to convert into box office success. How many extra people will now see Machete Kills because it features Lady Gaga? It will probably inflate its returns quite considerably. And just how good are these singers as actors? Sometimes a singer can turn in a fantastic performance and make critics and audiences alike sit up and notice; Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls and Diana Ross in Lady Sings The Blues are prime examples of this, but while they shone in these roles that seemed almost written especially for them, they haven’t exactly set audiences or critics alight with any subsequent performances.
Unlike all of these performers, Cher has managed to forge successful and long-running careers in both industries. Cher’s music career has spanned six decades, spawning seventy-three hit singles as a solo artist and twenty-one as part of husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher. She has appeared in fifteen movies, winning an Academy Award for Moonstruck, as well as winning Best Actress at Cannes for her performance in Mask, an Oscar nomination for Silkwood and winning two Golden Globes. There is no-one who has achieved such commercial and critical heights in both fields.
She may now be famed for her plastic surgery, her often hilarious tirades on Twitter and her quasi-celebrity transsexual son, but Cher holds the same weight and legendary status in both mediums. Last night saw The X Factor triumph her musical achievements in an astounding list of facts and figures, but I’ll bet that when Cher eventually passes away, it won’t just be the music industry trumpeting her as one of their greatest; the film industry too will laud her as one of their finest performers.