Behind the Hit

 
Updated September 11

The following features interesting facts and stories behind classic singles from the past. Songs are chosen arbitrarily.

 

Believe - Cher (1998)

UK Charts - #1 .. U.S. Charts - #1

 

"Believe" is a song recorded by singer and actress Cher for her twenty-second 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 and Timothy Powell, although Cher claimed later that she also wrote part, and was 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 of being more club-friendly, in order to engage a younger audience.

 

single

The song is one of the first commercial recordings 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 breakup. 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.

 

auto-tune

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.

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 reinvent 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.

 

music video

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. 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." 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. 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. 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." When her record company requested that the effect be removed, she responded, "Over my dead body!" After the massive success of the song, use of Auto-Tune became very popular and many other artists imitated this technique.

The song, recorded and released in 1998, peaked at number one in 23 countries worldwide. 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. 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 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.

 

"Dark Lady"

In the United Kingdom, "Believe" spent seven weeks at number one on the UK Singles Chart, 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. On August 1, 2014, "Believe" became the first female solo single to be certified Triple Platinum in the United Kingdom for selling 1,800,000 copies. 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.

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 repeatedly in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Living Conditions when Buffy's roommate plays it on repeat while ironing her jeans, driving Buffy crazy. 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.

 

South Park

 

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!"

 

Whiskey

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.

Following the failure of her previous studio album It's a Man's World, her record company encouraged Cher to return to the studio to pursue a new musical direction. Recording took place over the summer at the Dreamhouse Studios in London and the Soundworks Studios in New York under the guidance of English producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling. The Believe album was dedicated to her ex-husband Sonny Bono, who died earlier that year.

 

album

Commercially, Believe proved to be extremely successful, peaking at number four on the Billboard 200 and was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipment of four million copies across the United States. The record reached the peak position in Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and Portugal, and charted within' the top ten in France, Spain, United Kingdom, United States and several other international territories. "Strong Enough" was released as the second single from the album, being less successful than Believe, especially in the US and UK, peaking at numbers 57 and 5, respectively.

 

"Strong Enough"

Dancing Queen is the upcoming twenty-sixth studio album by Cher, set to be released by Warner Bros. Records on September 28.

 

"Dancing Queen"

 

Lyrics:

I believe for every drop of rain that falls
A flower grows
I believe somewhere in the darkest night
A candle glows
I believe for everyone that goes astray
Someone will come to show the way
I believe, oh I believe

I believe above the storms
The smallest prayer will be heard
I believe someone in the great somewhere
Hears every word
Every time I hear a new born baby cry
Or touch the leaves or when I see the sky
Then I know why

I believe, I believe
I believe, I believe
I believe in the man
I believe in the man
I believe in the man
I believe in the man

Touch a baby and see it smile
And pick a flower and I wonder why
Just look at the sun up in the sky
And then
I believe in the man
Got to believe in the man
I believe in the man
Got to believe in the man
I believe in the man
Got to believe in the man

He gave me everything I got today
And he gave me a baby
Made me bless the day
He gave me a man
That loves me more than I ever knew
I could love before
Yes I

I believe in the man
Got to believe in the man
I believe in the man
Got to believe in the man
I believe in the man
Got to believe in the man
I believe in the man
Got to believe in the man

I believe in the man
I believe in the man
I believe, I believe

 

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