"It's In His Kiss" is the Cher of songs [April 29, 1991]
Some things always survive
This week’s Number One:
“It’s In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)” by Cher
Death hoaxes were common in the earlier days of Twitter. I remember at least three occasions when the Twitterati came together to mourn the passing of Jeff Goldblum (somehow, he always died in the same way: a cycling accident in New Zealand.)
Cher was the subject of one such hoax in 2012. Even celebs like Kim Kardashian were tweeting #RIPCher and mourning a lost icon. Kim really should have known that she was being duped though, because Cher will never, ever die.
Cher has been on the scene for 60 years now and has been famous for pretty much her entire life. When she was 16, her much older boyfriend, Sonny Bono, introduced her to Phil Spector, who hired the teenager to perform backing vocals on some of his girlband tracks.
Her first gig? Singing back up on “Be My Baby”. Imagine starting your career with “Be My Baby”.
Around the same time as “Be My Baby”, Merry Clayton was trying and failing to launch her solo career. Merry is probably best known as the backing vocalist on The Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter”, as well as being a luminous presence in the wonderful documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom. Merry’s 1963 single was a track called “It’s In His Kiss”, a number written by the label’s in-house team. It sank without a trace.
However, a year later, the song was re-recorded not once but twice. Romana King released a version also called “It’s In His Kiss”, which prompted Betty Everett decided to change the name to avoid confusion. Her record was called “The Shoop Shoop Song”.
Sonny and Cher became a dominant force in the 60s and 70s, eventually moving into television with one of those cheesy variety shows that were all the rage back then. They divorced in 1974, something Cher dealt with by having a Number One solo hit. Sonny coped so badly that he ended up getting into politics, the poor man.
Around the same time, Linda Lewis resurrected “It’s In His Kiss” as an energetic disco track. It was a pretty big hit in the UK and became popular in US clubs.
Because Cher generally tends to succeed at whatever she attempts, she spent much of the 80s making movies, finishing out the decade with an Oscar for Moonstruck. At the start of the 90s, she set to work on a semi-autobiographical comedy called Mermaids, with an endearingly random cast: Cher, plus Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder, and pre-Addams Family Christina Ricci.
1991 is the golden age of the tie-in single, with movie soundtracks occupying the Number One spot for a combined 26 weeks. Cher accounts for five of those weeks with her cover of the song, which uses both titles: “It’s In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)”. With apologies to Merry Clayton, it is undoubtedly the definitive version.
It’s an appealing song with nursery-rhyme lyrics and aching adolescent yearning, which is why it keeps popping up again and again. Cher’s version works so well because of her particular genius - she can absolutely belt while also sounding relaxed and happy. She sings it like she’s having a good time.
The next 30 years of Cher’s career were as unpredictable as the previous ones. She effortlessly mastered 90s dance, rocked up in the Mamma Mia! sequel, and is a delightful presence on Twitter, where people no longer think she is dead.
Last summer during lockdown, teenagers kept having parties in the field across the road from my house. They woke me up one night with music from their tinny speakers. Sleepy, it took me a few minutes to recognise the song - “Believe”. I fell asleep smiling, amused at how teenagers have been partying to the sound of Cher for sixty years. Cher will never die.
As for “It’s In His Kiss”, it’s been recorded dozens of times since Cher. Expect to hear it in a TikTok meme soon.
Elsewhere in the charts
The age of Chesney comes to an end as “The One and Only” slips to number two. Farewell, sweet prince.
The KLF are BACK at number three. We’ll cover them next week.
Vic Reeves waltzes into the top ten with his surreal cover of “Born Free”. He performed it on TOTP with a flipchart of some birds. It was very strange.
And De La Soul are up to Number Ten with “Ring Ring Ring”, making this week’s chart officially cool.