Let it be known: Beyoncé may be queen, Drake may have broken Adele’s record for the most Billboard awards in a single year, Nicki Minaj may have given a nine-minute medley, and BTS may have made us believe in boy bands again, but when it came to bringing the house down, there is no one—no one—quite like Cher.
The 71-year-old singer was on hand on Sunday night at Las Vegas’s T-Mobile arena to accept the Billboard Music Awards Icon award, taking the stage to the strains of her 1998 song “Believe” in a pink-tipped white wig, heart-shaped pasties, and a glittery 2017-style reprisal of what could have been one of any of her infamous Bob Mackie naked dresses. (It’s not for nothing that Kim Kardashian West was among those saluting her as a style icon this week—Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner may like their glittery catsuits and red carpet thongs, but sorry girls! Cher was there first.)
The legendary pop pioneer trotted out in the bedazzled mesh catsuit and leather jacket ensemble from “If I Could Turn Back Time,” skipping and singing as if no time had passed since that song’s 1989 debut—let alone the 15 years since her last performance at an awards show. The camera cut to her son, Chaz Bono, who beamed from ear to ear as his mother accepted her trophy from Gwen Stefani and took the mic. “So, I’ve wanted to do what I do since I was 4 years old, and I’ve been doing it for 53 years,” Cher said, amid the roaring cheers of the audience. In one of the front rows, Diddy raised both hands and bowed in deference. “Thats not an applause thing, I turned 71 yesterday—and I can do a 5 minute plank. Just saying.”
“I wanna thank my mom,” the pop idol continued, “because when I was really young, my mom said: You’re not going to be the smartest, you’re not going to be the prettiest, you’re not going to be the most talented, but you’re going to be special. And when I met Sonny, he said the same thing. And there was really nothing about me that would lead one to believe that I was going to be special.” The star went on to thank some of her legendary collaborators, including Phil Spector, and the Wrecking Crew—though she was perhaps keenly aware that the audience may not be exactly up to snuff on their music history, going on to explain, “I worked with people you might not know, but they were like the greatest people in our industry. . . . And I just have to say I think luck has so much to do with my success, I think it was mostly luck, and a little bit of something thrown in.” They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.
The video from the Billboard Awards you can see in the multimedia.