Believe (Cher album)

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Believe
Believe (Cher album - cover art).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 22, 1998 (1998-10-22)
Recorded1998
StudioDreamhouse Studios
(London)
Soundworks Studios
(New York City)
GenreEuro disco[1]
Length43:59
Label
Producer
Cher chronology
It's a Man's World
(1995)
Believe
(1998)
If I Could Turn Back Time: Cher's Greatest Hits
(1999)
Singles from Believe
  1. "Believe"
    Released: October 19, 1998
  2. "Strong Enough"
    Released: February 19, 1999
  3. "All or Nothing"
    Released: June 7, 1999
  4. "Dov'è l'amore"
    Released: October 25, 1999

Believe is the twenty-second solo studio album by American singer and actress Cher, released on October 22, 1998 by WEA and Warner Bros. Records. Following the failure of her previous studio album It's a Man's World (1995), her record company encouraged her to record a dance-oriented album, in order to cater more to her gay audience. Cher started working on the album in the spring of 1998 with English producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling at the Dreamhouse Studios in London; the album was dedicated to her former husband Sonny Bono, who had died earlier that year.

Believe represents a complete musical departure from her previous works, consisting of Euro disco[1] oriented styles, while its lyrical topics include freedom, individualism and relationships; the album features some of the new technology of the time, like the usage of Auto-tune, which would eventually become known as the "Cher effect".[2] Upon release, the album received mixed reviews from music critics, who commended Cher's vocal performance, while others criticized the high amount of vocoder and its overall production, it won one Grammy for "Best Dance Recording" from a total of three nominations.

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 topped the charts 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.

Four singles were released from the album; the first single, "Believe", became one of the biggest-selling singles ever by topping the charts in a total of 23 countries and has sold more than 10 million copies.[3] "Strong Enough" was released as the second single from the album; it peaked at numbers 57 and 5 in the US and UK, respectively. "All or Nothing" and "Dov'è l'amore" were released as the third and fourth singles respectively, both becoming moderately successful. In order to support Believe, Cher embarked on her sixth concert tour, Do You Believe?, which became one of the highest grossing tours ever for a female artist at that time.

Background[edit]

After Cher's poorly received previous record It's a Man's World (1995), head of Warner Music UK Rob Dickins suggested that Cher record a dance album that could appeal to her gay audience. Cher expressed that she was not interested in dance music anymore because she thought it was not a genre with "real songs", leaving Dickins with the option of convincing her otherwise. 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; when Dickins asked the songwriter to complete "Believe", the result was a "terrible" song that still needed extensive work.[4]

The album was dedicated to musician Sonny Bono, Cher's former husband and musical partner, who had died on January 5, 1998 in a skiing accident.

Cher began working on Believe in the summer of 1998 in London, meeting with producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling, who had previously worked with Dickins; additional producers included Todd Terry ("Taxi Taxi") and Junior Vasquez (who had originally worked on "Dov'è L'Amore", but when he sent back his version from New York, it was rejected by Dickens, who decided instead to give the production of the track to Taylor and Rawling as well[5]). Cher also worked with long-time collaborator Diane Warren (who wrote "Takin' Back My Heart") and covered two songs: "The Power" (Amy Grant) and "Love Is the Groove" (Betsy Cook). Furthermore, she decided to include a remix of her 1988 single "We All Sleep Alone" from her 1987 Cher album.

The "Believe" single was originally written only by Brian Higgins, Matt Gray, Stuart McLennen and Tim Powell, and circulated at Warner Bros. as an unwanted demo for months. Mark Taylor said, "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."[5]

Release and promotion[edit]

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

Believe was first released in France on October 22, 1998, in the United Kingdom on October 26, 1998 and in the United States on November 10, 1998; the album was later released in Japan on December 23, 1998 with two additional Japan-only bonus tracks "Believe" (Club 69 Future Mix) and "Believe" (Xenomania Mix).

To promote the album, Cher made a number of televised appearances and live performances of the album's singles. On October 17, 1998, she debuted "Believe" at Heaven nightclub in London, England and on The National Lottery Show. "Believe" was also performed seven times on Top of the Pops and the 1999 Brit Awards (February 16, 1999) in the UK, Kultnacht and Top of the Pops in Germany (1998), Que Apostamos in Spain (November 6, 1998), the Rosie O'Donnell Show (November 17), the Late Show with David Letterman (November 18), the 26th Annual American Music Awards (January 11, 1999) in the United States and the 1999 Sanremo Music Festival in Italy (February 23, 1999), among others. "Strong Enough" was sung for the first time on Top of the Pops (March 3, 1999) in the UK, at the Echo Music Prize (March 4) in Germany and Tapis Rougue (March 13, 1999) in France. "Believe" and "Strong Enough" were also sung at the 1999 World Music Awards in Monte Carlo on May 5, 1999. "All or Nothing" was sung on Top of the Pops (June 11, 1999) while "Dov'è l'Amore" on The National Lottery Show in the UK.

Cher performed "Believe", "The Power", "All or Nothing", "Strong Enough", "Dov'è l'Amore" and "Love Is the Groove" on the Do You Believe?, her fourth concert tour, which promoted Believe. It started on June 16, 1999 and was Cher's first tour in seven years; the tour received positive reviews,[6] was a commercial success and was sold out in every American city it was booked in,[7] amassing a global audience of more than 1.5 million.[8] Its companion television special, Cher: Live in Concert – From the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (1999), was the highest rated original HBO program in 1998–99,[9] registering a 9.0 rating among adults 18 to 49 and a 13.0 rating in the HBO universe of about 33 million homes.[10] Its parent Live in Concert VHS/DVD was released in all regions in December 1999.

Singles[edit]

"Believe" was released as the lead single from the album on October 19, 1998. It peaked at number one in more than 23 countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, where it became Cher's first single to debut at number one and spent seven weeks at the summit at the end of 1998, becoming the biggest-selling single by a female artist in UK history, selling over 1.84 million copies in the country.[12][13] It also topped the United States' Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks,[14] selling over 1.8 million units in the country as of December 1999,[15] and earned Cher a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female solo artist to top the chart.[16] It remains the singer's most successful single to date,[17] and one of the best-selling singles of all time, with sales of over 10 million copies worldwide.[18][19] "Believe" received critical acclaim, and has an electronic vocal effect proposed by Cher, and was the first commercial recording to feature Auto-Tune—an audio processor originally intended to disguise or correct off-key inaccuracies in vocal music recordings—as a deliberate creative effect; after the success of the song, the technique became known as the "Cher effect"[11] and has since been widely used in popular music.[20]

The album's second single, "Strong Enough", was released on February 19, 1999, it peaked at number one in Hungary and attained a top ten position in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.[21] Due to a "loss" of radio airplay and promotion, the song had a modest success in the United States, peaking at number fifty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100, while reaching the number one on the Hot Dance Club Play chart for one week.[22]

"All or Nothing" was released on June 7, 1999 as the third single outside the United States. It peaked inside the top ten in Finland and Hungary; the song had a moderate success on the charts elsewhere, peaking at number twelve on the UK Singles Chart, while reaching number fourteen in Denmark. "Dov'è l'amore" was released as the album's fourth and final single on October 25, 1999. It became a top-ten hit in Finland, Greece, Italy and Spain. Along with its predecessor, the song was released in the United States as a maxi single, but failed to reach the Hot 100. "All or Nothing" and "Dov'è l'amore" peaked separately on the Hot Dance Club Play at number one and number five respectively.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[24]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[25]
Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s(choice cut)[26]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[27]

Upon release, the album received mixed responses from international music critics. AllMusic's Michael Gallucci called Believe Cher's "latest playground move" and said that she "merely moves through the beat factory with one drab vocal range into one endless, and personality-free, thump session" and "determinedly, if not wholeheartedly, clinging to the tail end of it". In his review he gave the album two-and-a-half out of five stars;[1] the major criticism was the strong use of Auto-Tune which changed Cher's voice. Beth Johnson of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B− rating, comparing it to Madonna's Ray of Light (1998), she said "One minute, this dance grab bag is mimicking Ray of Light; the next, paying homage to Donna Summer's disco days — then both at once!" However, she did say Believe is erratic (and sometimes cheesy) as hell, but you gotta love how her Cher-ness shines."[25] Music critic Robert Christgau ranked the album as a choice cut, which means that the reviewer believes there is a good track, in this case, "Believe", on an album that is "not particularly good."[28]

Commercial performance[edit]

Cher performing the album's lead single "Believe" on the Dressed to Kill Tour in 2014

In the United States, Believe debuted at number 139 on the Billboard 200 albums chart on the issue dated November 28, 1998.[29] The album had a slow and steady climb, and peaked at number four on the issue dated May 8, 1999,[30] becoming Cher's highest-peaking solo album up to that point; it also became her second solo Top 10 album, and third overall; the album spent a total of 76 weeks on the chart. On December 23, 1999, the album was certified four times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of four million units. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Believe had sold 3.600 million copies in the United States as of August 2015.[31] It remains Cher's best-selling album in the United States. In Canada, the album peaked at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart on the issue dated January 25, 1999,[32] where it remained for one week; the album was present for a total of 26 weeks on the chart and was later certified six times platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for shipment of 600,000 copies. The album also achieved commercial success in Oceania, peaking at number one on the albums chart in New Zealand and number thirteen in Australia, it was certified double platinum by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and two times platinum by Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) for shipments of 140,000 and 30,000 copies respectively.

In the United Kingdom, Believe debuted at number eight on the UK Albums Chart, becoming her fifth consecutive album to peak inside the Top 10 in the country; it eventually peaked at number seven on the issue dated March 20, 1999, it was certified double platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 600.000 copies. In France, the album peaked the albums chart at number five, staying for forty-seven weeks in the chart, it was certified platinum by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP) for shipments of 500,000 copies. Actual sales of the album in France stand at 555,300 copies. In Germany, the album reached number one on the Media Control Charts and remained there for four weeks, it remains Cher's best-selling album in Germany with two times platinum certification from Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI) for shipment of one million copies. Due to its commercial success in European countries, the album ultimately topped the European Top 100 Albums chart for eight consecutive weeks and was certified four times platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for sales of four million copies, becoming the best selling album in Europe of the year. Believe achieved similar success in the rest of world, topping the official charts of Austria, Denmark, Greece and Portugal and went on to be certified gold or platinum in 39 countries around the world.[33] In total, Believe has sold over 10 million copies worldwide and became Cher's best-selling album.[34]

Accolades[edit]

Cher performing the album's second single "Strong Enough" on the 2014 Dressed to Kill Tour.

At the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, Believe received one award out of three nominations; the album was nominated for Best Pop Album, while the title track won Best Dance Recording and was nominated for Record of the Year.[35] The song gave Cher her first Grammy of her career. "Believe" was also nominated for Best Dance Video and Best Editing at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. At the 1999 Billboard Music Awards Cher was nominated Top Female Artist and Female Hot 100 Artist of the Year, while "Believe" won the Hot 100 Single of the Year; its music video was nominated Best Dance Clip at the 1999 Billboard Music Video Awards.[36]

Believe also gave Cher several trophies from various international award shows—including an Anděl Awards for Best Foreign Female Singer in Czech Republic, a Danish Grammy Awards for Best International Hit ("Believe") from IFPI Denmark,[37] a Midem's Dance d'Or for Best International Single ("Believe") in France, an ECHO Award for International Female Artist in Germany,[38] an Hungarian Award for Foreign Pop Album of the Year,[39] an Hit Award nomination for International Artist of the Year in Norway, two Premios Amigo for Best International Female Solo Artist and Best International Album in Spain,[40] a Mnet Asian Music Awards, otherwise abbreviated as MAMA for Best International Artist in South Korea and a Music Control Airplay Awards (MCAW) as the Most Played International Artist in Sweden, among others. "Believe" also won three British Ivor Novello Awards for International Hit of the Year, Best Song Musically and Lyrically and Best Selling UK Single. At the 14th annual International Dance Music Awards, Cher won Best Hi NRG 12" and Best Pop 12" Dance Record for "Believe".[41]

Track listing[edit]

Believe – Standard edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Believe"
3:59
2."The Power"
3:56
3."Runaway"
  • Taylor
  • Barry
  • Taylor
  • Rawling
4:46
4."All or Nothing"
  • Taylor
  • Barry
  • Taylor
  • Rawling
3:57
5."Strong Enough"
  • Taylor
  • Barry
  • Taylor
  • Rawling
3:44
6."Dov'è l'amore"
  • Taylor
  • Barry
  • Taylor
  • Rawling
4:18
7."Takin' Back My Heart"
  • Taylor
  • Rawling
4:32
8."Taxi Taxi"
  • Terry
5:04
9."Love Is the Groove"
  • Terry
4:31
10."We All Sleep Alone" (Todd Terry remix)
5:10
Total length:43:59

Notes

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from AllMusic.[42]

  • Tracy Ackerman – background vocals
  • Chris Anderson – piano
  • Ryan Art – design
  • Kevyn Aucoin – make-up
  • Paul Barry – composer, background vocals
  • Jeffrey Bernstein – programming
  • Winston Blissett – bass
  • Jon Bon Jovi – composer, producer
  • Johan Brunkvist – keyboards
  • Colleen Callaghan – hair stylist
  • Cher – primary artist
  • Desmond Child – composer, producer
  • Betsy Cook – composer
  • Rob Dickins – executive producer
  • Ada Dyer – background vocals
  • Humberto Gatica – mixing
  • Marc Goodman – engineer
  • Marlon Graves – guitar
  • Matthias Heilbronn – editing, programming
  • Brian Higgins – composer
  • Sylvia Mason-James – background vocals
  • Mark Jordan – composer
  • Bill Klatt – engineer
  • Michael Lavine – photography
  • Eddie Martinez – guitar
  • P. Dennis Mitchell – mixing
  • Adam Phillips – guitar
  • Timothy Powell – composer
  • Brian Rawling – producer
  • Antoinette Roberson – background vocals
  • Tom Salta – keyboards, programming
  • Richie Sambora – composer, producer
  • Tommy Sims – composer
  • Robin Smith – string arrangements
  • Judson Spence – composer
  • Hamish Stewart – background vocals
  • Jeff Taylor – additional production, laughs, production engineer, remixing
  • Mark Taylor – composer, guitar, keyboards, mixing, producer, programming, string arrangements
  • Todd Terry – composer, producer
  • Junior Vasquez – producer
  • Diane Warren – composer
  • Audrey Wheeler – background vocals
  • James Williams – background vocals
  • Bruce Woolley – composer

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[92] Platinum 60,000^
Australia (ARIA)[93] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[94] Platinum 50,000*
Belgium (BEA)[95] Platinum 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[96] 6× Platinum 600,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[98] 7× Platinum 140,000[97]
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[99] Gold 32,682[99]
France (SNEP)[101] Platinum 555,300[100]
Germany (BVMI)[102] 2× Platinum 1,000,000^
Italy (FIMI)[104] 3× Platinum 300,000[103]
Japan (RIAJ)[105] Gold 100,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[106] 2× Gold 200,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[107] Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[108] 2× Platinum 30,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[109] Platinum 50,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[110] Platinum 100,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[111] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Sweden (GLF)[112] 3× Platinum 240,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[113] 2× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[115] 2× Platinum 700,000[114]
United States (RIAA)[117] 4× Platinum 3,600,000[116]
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[118] 4× Platinum 4,000,000*
Worldwide 10,000,000[119]

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Edition Label
France[120] October 22, 1998 Standard WEA
United Kingdom[121] October 26, 1998
Germany[122] November 2, 1998
Canada[123] November 3, 1998
United States[124] November 10, 1998
  • CD
  • cassette
  • LP
  • mini-album
Warner Bros.
Japan[125] December 23, 1998
  • CD
  • cassette
  • Standard
  • limited edition
WEA

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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External links[edit]