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Believe (Cher song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Believe"
Cher-believe-cover.JPG
Single by Cher
from the album Believe
B-side"Believe" (Xenomania Mix)
ReleasedOctober 19, 1998 (1998-10-19)
RecordedJuly 1998
StudioDreamhouse Studios, London, United Kingdom
GenreDance-pop
Length3:59
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Cher singles chronology
"Paradise Is Here"
(1996)
"Believe"
(1998)
"Strong Enough"
(1999)
Music video
"Believe" on YouTube

"Believe" is a song recorded by American singer Cher for her 22nd album, Believe (1998), released by Warner Bros. Records. It was released as the lead single from the album on October 19, 1998. It was written by Brian Higgins, Stuart McLennen, Paul Barry, Steven Torch, Matthew Gray, Timothy Powell, and was produced by Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling.

"Believe" departed from Cher's pop rock style of the time for an upbeat dance-pop style. It featured a pioneering use of the audio processing software Auto-Tune to distort Cher's vocals, which became known as the "Cher effect". The lyrics describe empowerment and self-sufficiency after a painful breakup.

"Believe" reached number one in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Hungary, Switzerland, Poland and the Netherlands. 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, and became the highest-selling single by a solo female artist in the United Kingdom. It is one of the best-selling singles, with sales of over 11 million copies worldwide.[1] Reviewers praised its production and catchiness and named it one of Cher's most important releases. It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and won Best Dance Recording.

The music video, directed by Nigel Dick, has Cher performing in a nightclub. Cher has performed the song a number of times, including four of her concert tours, most recently the Here We Go Again Tour in 2018. 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" for restoring Cher's popularity and cementing her position as a pop culture icon.

Writing

A demo of "Believe", written by Brian Higgins, Matthew Gray, Stuart McLennen and Timothy Powell, circulated at Warner Records for months. According to producer Mark Taylor, "everyone loved the chorus but not the rest of the song". Warner chairman Rob Dickins asked the production house Dreamhouse to work on the song. Taylor said their goal was to make a Cher dance record without alienating her fans.[2] Two more writers, Steve Torch and Paul Barry, joined and completed a version that Dickens and Cher were happy with."[2]

Though she is not credited as a songwriter,[3] Cher said she contributed the lines 'I need time to move on, I need love to be strong / I've had time to think it through and maybe I'm too good for you". According to Cher, "I was singing [the song] in the bathtub, and it seemed to me the second verse was too whiny. It kind of pissed me off, so I changed it. I toughened it up a bit."[4]

Production

"Believe" was assembled with Cubase VST on an early model Power Macintosh G3, with synthesizers including a Clavia Nord Rack and an Oberheim Matrix 1000. 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 July 1998 in London, England.[citation needed]

The effects on Cher's vocals were achieved using extreme settings on the pitch correction software Auto-Tune, using "unnaturally rapid corrections" to remove portamento, the slide between two pitches.[5] Taylor said it 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".[2] Cher approved of the effect and insisted it remain when Warner wanted it to be removed.[6] In an attempt to protect their method, the producers initially claimed it was achieved using a vocoder.[5] The effect was widely imitated and became known as the "Cher effect".[5]

Composition

"Believe" is a dance-pop song.[7][8] The song contains uncredited samples of "Prologue" & "Epilogue" performed by the Electric Light Orchestra.[9] 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 F3 to C5.[10]

Critical reception

Bill Lamb from About.com said that the song is a "perfect piece of dance-pop".[8] AllMusic editor Joe Viglione called "Believe" a "pop masterpiece, one of the few songs to be able to break through the impenetrable wall of late 1990s fragmented radio to permeate the consciousness of the world at large."[11] Michael Gallucci gave a lukewarm review, writing that the Believe album is an "endless, and personality-free, thump session".[12] Larry Flick from Billboard said that it is "the best darn thing that Cher has recorded in years".[13] Matt Stopera and Brian Galindo from BuzzFeed noted it as "iconic".[14] Damon Albarn, frontman of the bands Blur and Gorillaz, called the song "brilliant".[15] Entertainment Weekly described the song as "poptronica glaze, the soon-to-be club fave..." and noted Cher's voice as "unmistakable".[16] Tom Ewing from Freaky Trigger wrote that "Believe" "is a record in the "I Will Survive" mode of embattled romantic defiance – a song to make people who've lost out in love feel like they're the winners." He added that "it's remarkable that it took someone until 1998 to come up with "do you believe in life after love?", and perhaps even more remarkable that it wasn't Jim Steinman, but the genius of the song is how aggressive and righteous Cher makes it sound."[17]

Deborah Wilker from Knight Ridder said that "her electronically altered vocal" on "Believe" "is like nothing she's ever done."[18] Knight Ridder also described the song as "present-tense disco, with Cher an anthemic, Madonna manque."[19] New York Daily News described the song as a "club track so caffeinated, it not only microwaved her cold career to scorching-hot but gave dance music its biggest hit since the days of disco."[20] They also noted the song's "killer hook and amazing beat."[21] Neil Strauss from The New York Times wrote that "the verses are rich and bittersweet, with the added gimmick of breaking up Cher's voice through an effect that makes her sound robotic. And the choruses are catchy and uplifting, with Cher wailing, "Do you believe in life after love?" All of it bounces over a bed of 80s-style electronic pop. It is a song with a universal theme—a woman trying to convince herself that she can survive a breakup --".[22] Another editor, Jim Sullivan noted the track as a "hooky, defiant, beat-fest of a song".[23] Bob Waliszewski of Plugged In said that Cher "musters self-confidence to deal with a failed romance".[24] Robert Christgau highlighted "Believe" as the best song on the album.[25] Dave Fawbert from ShortList described "Believe" as a "really great pop song with, as ever, an absolute powerhouse vocal performance from Cher".[26]

Chart performance

Cher performing "Believe" on the WKTU's "Miracle on 34th Street" show in New York City on December 11, 1998.
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.[27] On January 23, 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) to perform this feat.[28] Cher also set the record for a solo artist with the longest span of time between number one hits, since "Dark Lady" reached number one in 1974. She also set a mark for longest gap after her first number one song "I Got You Babe" released in 1965 with her then-husband Sonny Bono, and beat the record held by former The Beatles' lead guitarist, George Harrison, who first hit the top of the charts in 1964 with The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand", and almost 24 years later he had his last number-one song, "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,[29] becoming Britain's biggest-selling single of 1998, and won its writers three Ivor Novello Awards (for Best Selling UK Single, for Best Song Musically and Lyrically, and for International Hit of the Year) at the 1999 ceremony.[30] 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] As of October 2017, the song has sold 1,830,000 copies in the UK, making it the biggest selling song by a woman there.[31]

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.[32] 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.[33][34]

Music video

Cher as a supernatural, wearing a glowing headdress in the music video of "Believe".
Cher as a supernatural, wearing a glowing headdress in the music video of "Believe".

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 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

Cher performed the song during the Do You Believe?, 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.[35] It returned as the encore at her Classic Cher (2017-2020) shows and stayed in that place for the Here We Go Again Tour (2018-2020) as well.

Legacy

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

VH1 placed "Believe" at #60 in their list of 100 Greatest Dance Songs in 2000[36] and at #74 in their list of 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s in 2007.[37] In 2020, The Guardian ranked "Believe" as the 83rd greatest UK number one.[38]

Accolades

Year Publisher Country Accolade Rank
1999 The Village Voice United States "Top Singles Of The 90's"[1] 96
2000 VH1 United States "100 Greatest Dance Songs"[39] 60
2005 Blender United States "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born"[40] 134
2005 Bruce Pollock United States "The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000"[41] *
2007 VH1 United States "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s"[42] 74
2012 Max Australia "1000 Greatest Songs of All Time"[43] 252
2012 NME United Kingdom "50 best-selling tracks of the ’90s"[44] 5
2015 Robert Dimery United States "1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2015 Update)"[45] 1002
2017 BuzzFeed United States "The 101 Greatest Dance Songs Of the '90s"[46] 15
2019 Elle United States "52 Best 1990s Pop Songs"[47] 51
2019 Insider United States "100 of the best songs from the '90s"[48] *
2019 Insider United States "102 songs everyone should listen to in their lifetime"[49] *
2019 Max Australia "1000 Greatest Songs of All Time"[50] 892
2019 Paste Magazine United States "The Best Songs of 1999"[51] 9
2020 The Guardian United Kingdom "The 100 greatest UK No 1s"[52] 83

(*) indicates the list is unordered.

In popular culture

It was referenced in an article by The Onion that alluded to the song's ubiquity in the late 1990s.[53]

In Season 4, Episode 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy's new college roommate (who turns out to be a demon) listens to the song on repeat.[54]

In the 2009 film Land of the Lost, the characters Rick Marshall and Will Stanton (played by Will Ferrell and Danny McBride respectively) jokingly sing the chorus of song whilst placing their hands on a large energy-radiating crystal structure, creating a distorted vibration effect on their voices, as if it were an Auto-Tune-like device.

In December 2018 Adam Lambert performed a 'stunning' ballad version of Believe in honor to Cher during the 41st annual Kennedy Center Honors which left Cher 'at a lost for words' and moved her to tears.[55][56] On 6 December 2019 Lambert released a studio version of his version of 'Believe' which reached #23 on the Billboard Digital Song Sales chart on 21 December 2019.[57][58]

Track listing

Credits and personnel

Credits adapted from Believe album liner notes.

Charts

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[136] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[137] Platinum 50,000*
Belgium (BEA)[138] 3× Platinum 150,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[139] Gold 45,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[141] Diamond 764,000[140]
Germany (BVMI)[142] 5× Gold 1,250,000^
Italy (FIMI)[143] Gold 25,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[144] Platinum 75,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[145] Gold 5,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[146] 2× Platinum  
Sweden (GLF)[147] 3× Platinum 90,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[148] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[150] 3× Platinum 2,040,000[149]
United States (RIAA)[153] Platinum 1,800,000 (physical)[151]
375,000 (digital)[152]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

See also

References

  1. ^ "Amazon.co.uk: Cher: Albums, Songs, Biogs, Photos". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
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  3. ^ Strauss, Neil (March 11, 1999). "Cher Resurrected, Again, by a Hit; The Long, Hard but Serendipitous Road to 'Believe'". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  4. ^ Mark Bego (15 July 2004). Cher: If You Believe. Taylor Trade Publishing. pp. 283–. ISBN 978-1-4616-2592-6.
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  12. ^ Review by AllMusic Retrieved October 15, 2013
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External links

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