Background and development
After the poor reception of her twenty-first studio album It's a Man's World (1995), Warner Music UK's label head Rob Dickins suggested to Cher to record a dance album so that could appeal to her gay audience. However, Cher said she was not interested in dance music anymore because she thought it was not a genre with "real songs". He persuaded her to at least listen to some of the new songs he had found, and she agreed. Dickens sent her a set of songs, among them were "Dov'è l'amore" and "Strong Enough", both of which were written by the Metro team, composed by English producers Paul Barry, Brian Rawling and Mark Taylor. Cher began working on Believe in the summer of 1998 in London in their studio, which Cher called "this little dungeon of a place, the smallest studio I've ever been in in my life". The first song to be recorded for the album was "Strong Enough". "Rob told me that he said to the boys 'I'm gonna give you a chance to produce Cher. I want you to write a song for Cher…you know, a 'Cher song', and "Strong Enough" is the song they came up with". She told that Mark had tried approaching the track from several different, more contemporary angles before admitting that it worked better the way Cher suggested, a disco-flavored song. As for "Dov'e L'amore", Cher told that "When the boys wrote “Dov’e”, there was an Italian restaurant next door---there weren’t any Spanish restaurants around---and they just kept running to the guy in the restaurant who spoke Italian and said ‘tell me how to say this’, and ‘how do you say that?’, and that’s how they wrote it". As the recording sessions continued, the album's focus began to take shape. "Before I knew it, it had turned into a dance album".
At Warner's London office, Dickins bumped into songwriter Brian Higgins, who was asked to pitch songs for a Cher album. Three days later, a tape with sixteen of Higgins's songs arrived. "I lay on my bed and put the tape on and listened to every song. The ninth song was 'Believe'. I thought: 'Cher could do this chorus, especially the lyrics, with her private life the way it is. She's gone through all these things", Dickins said. He then gave the song to the Metro team. "We had done the song, and we loved the chorus, but the verse was just s—t". However, Cher herself came up with the line "I've had time to think it through, and maybe I'm too good for you", and suddenly the whole song made sense. Additionally, Cher told that the track's vocal effects were inspired by a similar sound effect that she had heard on an album by Roachford. She met with some initial resistance, however, when she tried getting the boys to experiment with her own vocal tracks in the same way. However, Dickens tried his best to dissuade her, arguing that to him it just did not sound like a Cher album. She sat down with with everyone involved in the project and said, "Alright, you guys. I understand what you're saying…I understand that at first it doesn't sound like me—but eventually it does—and, if you want to change the mechanical stuff…I want you to know that it will be over my dead body'. We never talked about it again". The album also contains a reworked version of her 1989 song "We All Sleep Alone". Cher stated that the idea of revisiting an old song began with "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)", but she did not agree with the producers' idea. Then her hairdresser suggested reworking "We All Sleep Alone" into a dance song and she agreed.
Music and lyrics
The opening song from Believe is its title track. It is a dance-pop song, which contains samples of "Prologue" and "Epilogue" performed by Electric Light Orchestra. "Believe" also features the audio processor software Auto-Tune as a vocal effect, used to produce the prominent altered effect on Cher's vocals, and would eventually become known as the "Cher effect". Lyrically, the song is about the personal empowerment and self-sufficiency after a painful break-up.
"Taxi Taxi" Donna Summer
To start marketing Believe
- Strauss, Neil (March 11, 1999). "Cher Resurrected, Again, by a Hit; The Long, Hard but Serendipitous Road to 'Believe'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- "Throwback Thursday: 'Believe' by Cher, the song that brought you Auto-Tune [LISTEN]". Music Times. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- Believe booklet
- Frere-Jones, Sasha (June 9, 2008). "The Gerbil's Revenge". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 22, 2017.