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Believe by Cher

Album: BelieveReleased: 1998Charted:
  • Many great songs were written and recorded very quickly in short bursts of inspiration. This wasn't one of them. About six years in the making, this song was the result of the painstaking efforts of six songwriters and at least three producers attempting to create a massive hit for Cher.

    The song began life as a demo created by four songwriters at Cher's record label, Warner Brothers. From there, it went to some top producers, including Nick Van Eede of Cutting Crew, who said in his Songfacts interview: "Kevin MacMichael and I produced the original demo with Mark Scott and Brian Higgins in 1992 I think. That shows how long the song sat around. We tweaked the melody and chords in the famous chorus... listen to the first two chords to "I've Been in Love Before" and the first two chords to 'Believe' and you'll hear the similarity. We got paid a bottle of whisky between us for the session!"

    The song eventually made its way to Metro Productions, which is a small studio in London, where Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling worked on the track after two Metro songwriters reworked it a bit (bringing the songwriter tally to six). They used a variety of studio techniques and processors to create a very synthesized sound, trying to create an original dance track that wouldn't alienate Cher's core audience that was used to her rock ballads. In an interview with Sound On Sound magazine, Mark Taylor explained that he ended up producing the song twice: "It was just too hardcore dance - it wasn't happening. I scrapped it and started again, because I realized it needed a sound that was unusual, but not in a typical dance record sort of way. This was tricky, because dance music is very specific. To get what I was after I had to think about each sound very carefully, so that the sound itself was dance-based but not obviously so."

    The big breakthrough in the production of this song was the distinctive vocal effect, which the producers claimed was done using a Vocoder device. It was later revealed that they used an Auto-Tune processor, which is a device created by Antares Audio Technologies to correct the pitch in recorded vocals. Rap groups were experimenting with the Vocoder sound, resulting hits like "Intergalactic" and "California Love," but this was the first hit pop song to use these techniques. The following year, Eiffel 65 had a huge vocoder hit with "Blue (Da Ba Dee)."
  • This was the biggest-selling single in US in 1999 and in UK in 1998. It was also the biggest UK hit by a solo female artist, selling 1,672,108 copies.
  • When this hit #1 in the US, it marked the longest period between Hot 100 chart-toppers for any act. Cher's last #1 on the chart was "Dark Lady" in 1974. At 25 years, this broke the record previously held by The Beach Boys, who went 22 years between "Good Vibrations" and "Kokomo."
  • Cher was 52 when she topped the UK charts, making her the oldest female artist to have a #1 hit in the UK.
  • All of the songwriters and producers involved with this track were men, but they crafted the song so it would appeal to a female audience. The lyrics are about moving on with confidence after a failed relationship.
  • The song's vocoder effect came from an unlikely source. Cher recalled to Q magazine December 2013: "While we were recording 'Believe' in the UK, I saw Roachford on a morning TV show. He was singing with a vocoder and guitar, and it sounded so great. My producer said, 'You can't do that after you've recorded the song. But I was playing around with the pitch machine and I think I can get something interesting from that...' So he played it and we just smiled at each other. It was exactly what we needed to make the really boring verse... sing."
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Comments: 19

Ella Henderson, one very young singer on X Factor 2012, performed an absolutely amazing slow version of this song with only a piano accompaniment and no stupid autotune nor disco rhythm. Then, all of a sudden, the lyrics made sense and everyone could see how great that song really was. If the composers had been wiser, they would have thought of the slow version first.Guy - Montreal, Qc
I believe I read that she was the oldest singer to ever get a number one hit. I admire her for her ability to change her style every year.Austin - Smallsville,new England, --
Hmmm...Cher really doesnt look like a lady does she?? Really reminds me of a bloke. I wish she would hurry up and get over herself. Her and Madonna *shudders* wayy too oldNady - Adelaide, Australia
Say what you like about Cher (and several folks have) she has:
#1 guts! to try new things and #2 talent! because her long career proves she's git "it" in abundance, eh?
5cats - Winnipeg, Mb
if you belive in your self and anything is possible
and if you belive in love that can make you strong
and you have faith in your self it is not just about love it is also about faith that you can be
strong in love and that love dose give you strength
and that strength will keep you as stong as you feel if you truely belive in your self you can
acomplish anything and that is the most powerful
thing of all. So this song is about strength and power to belive in something as strong as your self you got to have some since to be strong.
Savannah - Eastpoint, Fl
No one really doubted Cher would eventually make another comeback, but this time it was with the biggest hit of her entire career. "Believe" is a perfect piece of dance-pop, and it took the entire world by storm. More dance hits followed in its wake and a farewell concert tour that lasted more than 3 years. Cher is certainly someone who believes in "life after love."Bertrand - Paris, France
I'm not a very big Cher fan, but this song is very cool!Meredith - Wauwatosa, Wi
I love this song so much! So cool, great vocals, peppy tune, and powerful background keyboard and guitar. Great sound.Matt - Harlan, Ky
To correct Edward above. With this song Cher became the oldest SOLO female artist to have a number 1. Debbie Harry was older when Maria topped the UK charts.Darren - Hull, England
Love her or hate her, Cher is one of those rare performers who endures decade after decade, and Believe just proves that.Paul - Detroit, Mi
An excellent come back from a top-notch singer, that's all I've got to say.Jorge - Mexicali, Mexico
in the video she looks not only reminiscent of a man, but also a penis modelPapa Burgundy - Bridlington, England
well this song means for believe in what you believe in. and whatever it is believe in it. and love. this song means love also. and i noticed that everyone needs love to live. and i notice that i know what the songs mean.Sarah Floyd - Bloomingdale, Il
Cher's older stuff was much better... this is barely listenableChas - Webster, Ny
Whatever this song did for Cher's career, it does prove one thing: Her cheesy overripe voice does NOT improve with electronic enhancement.Robert - Puyallup, Wa
This song reminds me of Star Wars. 'Aj - Cleveland, Ga
Natasha.... she has a good surgeonPete - Nowra, Australia
True, there was a vocoder used on Cher's voice, however, there was also MUCH use (or abuse?!) of Antares Auto-Tune for the trance-like vocals on the chorus. I produce and record professionally for a living. Antares Auto-Tune is an audio software plug-in (must often used with DigiDesign ProTools) which can be used to fix out-of-tune vocals or other pitch problems from solo tracks. When Auto-Tune is set "normally", the pitch can be controlled and smoothly corrected, sounding very natural. But when set to extreme settings, Auto-Tune can be used to produce a un-natural "stair-stepping" or "robotic" effect as is heard thoughout this hit song. Interestingly, Auto-Tune has been WIDELY used in most professional recordings since 1996 as an immense time saver for engineers, producesrs and performers. In the studio, time is money! Nearly 80% of every recording from Nashville (simply listen to any CD by Shania Twain, Faith Hill, or LeAnn Rimes as an example) is using Antares Auto-Tune to make the vocals sound "perfect", from non-perfect vocalists.Dave - Marieta, Ga
Rock on CHER! Even though my dad may hate you, you're still awesome :) Do she ever get old?Natasha - Chico, Ca
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