Believe (Cher song)

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"Believe"
Single by Cher
from the album Believe
B-side "Believe (Xenomania Mix)"
Released October 19, 1998 (1998-10-19)
Format
Recorded August 1998; Dreamhouse Studios (London, United Kingdom)
Genre Dance-pop
Length 3:59
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Cher singles chronology
"Paradise Is Here"
(1996)
"Believe"
(1998)
"Strong Enough"
(1999)

"Believe" is a song recorded by American singer-actress Cher. It is the title track from her twenty-second studio album of the same name (1998), and was released as the lead single from the album on October 19, 1998 by Warner Bros. Records. It was written by Brian Higgins, Stuart McLennen, Paul Barry, Steven Torch, Matthew Gray, Timothy Powell, Jeff Lynne, and Cher and produced by Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling. A considerable departure from Cher's work at the time, "Believe" abandoned the singer's then pop rock-based repertoire in favor being more club-friendly, in order to engage a younger audience.

"Believe" is an upbeat dance-pop song. The song is the first commercial recording to feature the audio processor software Auto-Tune as a vocal effect, used to produce the prominent altered effect on Cher's vocals. This technique would eventually become known as the "Cher effect". Lyrically, the song is about the personal empowerment and self-sufficiency after a painful break-up. Critically, "Believe" has been met with appreciation ever since its release; reviewers have praised its production, catchiness and club-friendly nature, and listed it as one of the singer's career highlights. The song was also nominated for two Grammy Awards; for Record of the Year and Best Dance Recording, winning the latter.

Commercially, the song attained immense global success, reaching number one in almost every country it charted, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States. It earned Cher a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female solo artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also became the highest-selling single by a solo female artist in the United Kingdom. "Believe" remains one of the best-selling singles of all time with sales of over 11 million copies worldwide.[1]

The music video for "Believe", directed by Nigel Dick, showed Cher in a nightclub performing the song in two different sequences: one in which she is seen performing the song on stage and the other as a supernatural being locked in a cage. Cher has performed the song in a number of live appearances, including in three of her concert tours, most recently the Dressed to Kill Tour in 2014. It has been covered by a number of artists, and has been featured in several elements of popular culture. Scholars and academics noted the way in which Cher was able to re-invent herself and remain fresh and contemporary amidst the more teen pop-based music of the period. They also credited "Believe" as the song which restored the singer's popularity and cemented her position as a pop culture icon.

Background and composition[edit]

As released, the single incorporates the work of six different songwriters, two producers and executive producer Rob Dickins, the erstwhile chairman of Warner Bros, but according to Mark Taylor the creation of "Believe" was a "strange one." Originally written by Brian Higgins, Matthew Gray, Stuart McLennen and Timothy Powell and circulated on Warner as a demo for months, nobody wanted it. Mark Taylor said that "everyone loved the chorus but not the rest of the song; As we were already writing other songs for Cher, Rob asked us if we could sort it out. Two of our writers, Steve Torch and Paul Barry, got involved and eventually came up with a complete song that Rob and Cher were happy with."[2] Once the demo version was agreed, Mark and Brian took over for the actual production, working at Dreamhouse; Mark said "We knew the rough direction to take, because Rob had said he wanted to make a Cher dance record. The hard part was trying to make one that wouldn't alienate Cher's existing fans."[2]

The entire track was assembled with Cubase VST on an iMac G3 computer, with other synthesizers, including a Clavia Nord Rack and an Oberheim Matrix 1000, while Cher's vocals were recorded on three TASCAM DA88 digital audio recorders with a Neumann U67 vacuum tube-amplified microphone.[2] The song was recorded approximately in ten days in Surrey, United Kingdom.

Cher's voice is altered by a pitch correction speed that is "set too fast for the audio that it is processing."[2] Producer Mark Taylor added the effect to Cher's vocal simply as a kind of mischievous experiment. In interviews at the time, he claimed to be testing out his recently purchased DigiTech Talker.[2] It later emerged that the effect was not created by a vocoder, but by using extreme (and then-unheard-of) settings on Antares Auto-Tune.[2] Taylor said about the effect that "this was the most nerve-wracking part of the project, because I wasn't sure what Cher would say when she heard what I'd done to her voice", but that when she heard it she said, "It sounds great."[2] When her record company requested that the effect be removed, she responded, "Over my dead body!"[3] After the massive success of the song, use of Auto-Tune became very popular and many other artists imitated this technique, and it would eventually become known as the "Cher effect".[4]

"Believe" is a dance-pop song.[5] The song samples a drum-machine pattern off Daft Punk's 1998 single "Revolution 909".[6]

It is recorded in the key of F major with a tempo of 133 beats per minute. The song follows a chord progression of F–C–Gm–B–F–Am7–Gm–Dm, and Cher's vocals span from F4 to C6.[7]

A 30-second sample of "Believe". It is noted for its use of a sound effect on the vocals (using the then newly invented Auto-Tune software), which is today referred to as the "Cher effect".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Critical reception[edit]

Billboard gave the song a positive review, saying that the song is "the best darn thing that Cher has recorded in years".[8] AllMusic editor Michael Gallucci gave a lukewarm review, writing that the Believe album is an "endless, and personality-free, thump session".[9] Joe Viglione called the song "pop masterpiece, one of the few songs to be able to break through the impenetrable wall of late 1990's fragmented radio to permeate the consciousness of the world at large."[10]

Entertainment Weekly called this song "poptronica glaze, the soon-to-be club fave..." and called Cher's voice "unmistakable."[11] Robert Christgau highlighted "Believe" as the best song on the album.[12] Damon Albarn, frontman of the bands Blur and Gorillaz, called the song "brilliant".[13] It was voted as the world's eighth favourite song in a poll released by BBC.[2][14][15]

Chart performance[edit]

Cher performing "Believe" on the WKTU's "Miracle on 34th Street" show in New York City on December 11, 1998.

The song, recorded and released in 1998, peaked at number one in 23 countries worldwide.[16] On January 12, 1999, it reached the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number one on the chart on March 13, making Cher the oldest female artist (at the age of 52)[17] to perform this feat. Cher also set the record for a solo artist with the longest span of time between number one hits: her previous number one hit, "Dark Lady", had been in 1974. She also set a mark for longest gap after her first No. 1 song ("I Got You Babe") released in 1965 with her then-husband, the late Sonny Bono and beat the record held by former Beatles lead guitarist, George Harrison (who first hit the top of the charts in 1964 with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" then took nearly 24 years before hitting No. 1 with "Got My Mind Set On You"). "Believe" also was ranked as the number-one song of 1999 by "Billboard" on both the "Billboard" Hot 100 and Hot Dance Club Play charts and became the biggest single in her entire career.

In the United Kingdom, "Believe" spent seven weeks at number one on the UK Singles Chart,[18] becoming Britain's biggest-selling single of 1998. As of June 2013 "Believe" is still the best selling single by a female artist of all time there.[19] According to Official Charts Company, the song has sold 1,790,000 copies in the UK as of March 2014.[20] On 1 August 2014, "Believe" became the first female solo single to be certified Triple Platinum in the United Kingdom for selling 1,800,000 copies.[citation needed]

The success of the song not only expanded through each country's singles chart, but also most countries' dance charts. In the United States "Believe" spent 23 weeks on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart, five of those weeks at #1, and 22 weeks on the European Hot Dance Charts. "Believe" also set a record in 1999 after spending 21 weeks in the top spot of the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales chart, it was still in the top ten even one year after its entry on the chart.[21] On 13 October 2008, the song was voted #10 on Australian VH1's Top 10 Number One Pop Songs countdown. "Believe" was nominated for Record of the Year and Best Dance Recording at 42nd Grammy Awards, the latter of which it won.[22][23]

Music video[edit]

Cher performing "Believe" on the Dressed to Kill Tour in 2014.

The official music video for "Believe", directed by Nigel Dick, features Cher in a nightclub in a double role as a singer on stage while wearing a glowing headdress and as a supernatural being in a cage (with auto-tuned voice) surrounded by many people to whom she is giving advice. The video largely revolves around a woman who is in the club looking for her boyfriend and is heartbroken when she sees him with another woman. The version on The Very Best of Cher: The Video Hits Collection is slightly different from the previous version (the version that is also included on the Mallay Believe Bonus VCD) with additional scenes towards the end that were not in the original video. There are also two 'rough' versions of the video as the song was released in the UK and Europe before a video was completed. The first is a compilation of scenes from the videos of Cher's previous singles "One by One" and "Walking in Memphis" and the second includes a brief scene of the Believe video where Cher sings the chorus while the rest of the video is composed of scenes from "One by One".

Three official remix videos exist for this song. Two of the remix videos were created by Dan-O-Rama in 1999. Both follow different concepts from the original unmixed video. Instead of showing the significance of the lyrics the videos mostly show Cher with different colored backgrounds and people dancing. The two remixes used for these videos were the Almighty Definitive Mix and the Club 69 Phunk Club Mix. The third video entitled Wayne G. Remix was released by Warner Bros. and the concept is similar to the Club 69 Phunk Club Mix video.

Live performances[edit]

Cher performed the song during the Do You Believe? Tour, The Farewell Tour, Cher at the Colosseum and the Dressed to Kill Tour. While she would lip-sync the entire song on various television programs, she would only lip-sync the synthesized verses when performing on her Believe and Farewell tours, the Colosseum shows and on the 2002 edition of VH1 Divas Live. Since 1999, the song has been the encore to all of Cher's concerts until her 2014 Dressed to Kill Tour, where the encore is the ballad "I Hope You Find It", a second single from her 25th studio album Closer to the Truth.[24]

In popular culture[edit]

It was featured in an episode of BBC's Top Gear where James May had to chauffeur a Cher impersonator. It was parodied in the season 3 South Park episode, Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub. It was featured in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Living Conditions when Buffy's roommate plays it on repeat while ironing her jeans. It was also featured in an episode of Friends, "The One with Chandler's Dad" in the seventh season during a montage of Las Vegas.

A cover by Correatown was used in Grey's Anatomy season 12 episode 4.

In 2012 Ella Henderson performed an acoustic piano rendition of the song during the bootcamp stage of the ninth series of The X Factor' UK earning praise from all judges and reducing Nicole Scherzinger to tears. A similar version was included on the iTunes deluxe version of Ella's album Chapter One.

On December 7, 2015, Jeffery Austin performed a stripped down, slower version of the song during the Top 9 live semifinals of The Voice.

Track listings and formats[edit]

Official remixes[edit]

  • Radio Mix (3:30) (Promo)
  • Almighty Definite Mix (7:35)
  • Almighty Essential Mix (8:03)
  • Almighty Definitive Radio Edit (4:46)
  • Almighty Definitive Video Remix Version (5:12)
  • Club 69 Anthem Mix = Club 69 Anthem Mix Edit (5:18)
  • Club 69 Future Anthem Mix (9:20)
  • Club 69 Future Anthem Dub (7:35)
  • Club 69 Future Anthem Dub Edit (7:13)
  • Club 69 Future Dub (7:45)
  • Club 69 Future Mix (9:14)
  • Club 69 Future Mix Edit (6:50)
  • Club 69 Phunk Club Mix = Phat 'N' Dolls Remix Edit (8:43)
  • Club 69 Phunk Dub (7:04)
  • Club 69 Phunk Video Mix (4:54)
  • Extended Album Version - Roger's Resumed Mix (5:40)
  • Grip's Heartbroken Mix (9:12)
  • Grips Heaven Dub (6:50)
  • Love To Infinity Power Mix = LTI Mad Mix (7:01)
  • Phat 'N' Phunky After luv Dub (6:22)
  • Phat 'N' Phunky After luv Dub Edit (6:07)
  • Phat 'N' Phunky Club Mix (7:42)
  • Xenomania Mix (4:20)
  • Xenomania Mad Tim And The Mekon Club Mix (9:15)
  • Wayne G. Heaven Anthem Mix (9:48)

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Believe album liner notes.

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[90] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[91] Platinum 50,000*
Belgium (BEA)[92] 3× Platinum 150,000*
France (SNEP)[93] Diamond 764,000[94]
Germany (BVMI)[95] 5× Gold 1,250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[96] Platinum 75,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[97] Gold 5,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[98] 2× Platinum 20,000*
Sweden (GLF)[99] 3× Platinum 90,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[100] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[101] 3× Platinum 1,790,000double-dagger[102]
United States (RIAA)[103] Platinum 1,800,000 (physical)[104]
375,000 (digital)[105]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

double-dagger Sales shown exclude streaming (since July 2014 BPI certifications for singles include on-demand audio streaming).[106]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]