Cher – Believe

First Hit #1: March 13, 1999

If you’re going to revive disco, it makes sense to go with Cher. She’s not a shrinking violet, preferring to go over the top in everything she does, so she’s definitely got the visual component of a mad disco goddess down. So it’s actually kind of surprising that she hides behind a wall of vocal effects on this song. It’s pushing a new trend, and the effect of abusing pitch correction software providing a kind of funky robot thing that would soon wear out its welcome as it became less distinct. It’s weird to hear an otherwise distinct vocalist behind a big wall of vocal effects, which kind of makes one question why they went with Cher in the first place. You could plug any number of interchangeable vocalists into this bit of disco without it changing pretty much anything. It’s actually a fun song in its way, especially if you’re mentally still in 1999 and have not heard this effect a million times already. But it’s a producer’s song, not for the singer, who is just a small cog in the whole.

But then, Cher was game, and she provides a distinct visual for the video. It’s not a great showcase for Cher, the singer, but it is pretty great for Cher, the person in music videos.

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4 Responses to Cher – Believe

  1. RBerman says:

    After several years in which vocalists sold songs, we’re swinging back to producer-oriented dance music. Britney Spears had zero input into the lyrics, music, or arrangement (and thus zero share in the publishing royalties) of her first album. She just showed up and sang over the finished musical tracks. Cher (in her Third Coming!) had enough clout to be more proactive in the construction of her “Believe” album, but she’s still not listed among the seven co-authors of this song, which combined a chorus written by one team with a verse written by another. The result could have been as Frankensteiny as the Autotune effect on her vocals which spawned that most regrettable musical trend of the last fifteen years, but in reality the verse and chorus blend quite well.

    As for Autotune, I keep waiting for the music-buying public to get tired of it and force it out. It removes the natural pitch variations of the human voice, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it dampens with the natural overtone sequence as well, which is why it sounds unnatural. But it also cuts down on the number of hideously flubbed notes which singers (these days more than ever before, singers chosen more for their image than for their pipes) deliver in the recording studio, which saves money, which means record labels will keep using Autotune as long as consumers keep tolerating it.

    Lyrically, another in the long line of face-saving, “You left me because you suck, and I’m awesome” anti-torch songs which leave one thinking that the lady doth protest too much about how lonely she isn’t. You don’t prove you’re over somebody by thinking about them vindictively rather than piningly. You prove you’re over somebody when you don’t think about them at all.

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  4. This was Cher’s first #1 hit on the Hot 100 since Dark Lady in 1974 and her fourth as a solo artist, having topped the chart with Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves in 1971; and Half Breed in 1973. Sonny and Cher reached the summer with I Got You Babe in 1965.

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