Why Cher Almost Never Recorded Her Smash Hit Believe

Cher is one of those artists who never seems to miss, even after decades of being in the music industry. Cher proved to be the best of the best when her smash hit "Believe" came out as part of the titular album in the late '90s. The single scored first place on Billboard's Hot 100, in March 1999, where it dominated for four weeks straight. However, the journey to creating the iconic party anthem was not without its challenges. In fact, Cher almost didn't record it.

"'Believe' was a mess, I'm telling you," Cher shared with The New York Post, revealing that she actually left the studio midway through recording. Fortunately, she came back and gifted the world with the ultimate dance bop. Cher also revolutionized the music industry along the way with her pioneering use of Auto-Tune. According to Pitchfork, the technology existed before Cher put it to good use, but it wasn't popularized in mainstream music. 

Cher's "Believe" paved the way for modern artists like Ye (formerly Kanye West) and Bon Iver, who found stardom using the voice-enhancing mechanism to perfect their work. Despite Cher's initial doubts, "Believe" is one of her most beloved and successful songs, earning a Grammy for "Best Dance Recording" in 1999 and joining the long list of worldwide awards Cher has won over the years. And, over two decades later, "Believe" is as relevant as ever.

It was Cher's idea to make Believe better with Auto-Tune

During her interview with The New York Post, Cher admitted that she found "Believe" so terrible that she actively had to push herself through the song to reach the chorus, which was obviously a banger. The producer, Mark Taylor, kept pushing Cher to improve her performance, leading the diva to finally snap and tell him, "If you want it better, get another singer." Frustrated, she stormed out.

In a 1999 interview with The New York Times, the superstar confessed that she wasn't interested in creating a dance album either. Rob Dickins, the former Chairman of Warner Music U.K., suggested catering to her huge gay audience with a more upbeat sound, but Cher was hesitant. Despite her reluctance, she eventually agreed and began working on the single "Believe" with various collaborators.

However, the song wasn't meeting expectations sound-wise or with its lyrics, prompting Cher to take a break. Serendipitously, she stumbled upon Andrew Roachford's performance on TV. The British musician used a vocoder to add a robotic sound to his voice, which inspired Cher to do the same for "Believe." After incorporating Auto-Tune into the track, Cher instantly fell in love with the result.

Cher also wrote some of the iconic lines in 'Believe'

Before "Believe" was molded into the record-breaking hit it is today, Cher considered its lyrics to be subpar. "You can be sad for one verse, but you can't be sad for two," she explained to The New York Times. The singer came up with the memorable line "I've had time to see it through/Maybe I'm too good for you" to substitute for a poorly written verse originally in place. However, she never received recognition for her input, sharing in an interview on the BBC's "Tracks of My Years" that she didn't ask to be credited for the line. 

"I could have gotten a lot of money," she quipped (via The Mirror). After finally perfecting the lyrics and toying around with Auto-Tune, not everyone was as thrilled as Cher with what "Believe" turned out to be. Rob Dickins suggested cutting the mechanical-sounding part out as he felt it was too much, to which Cher responded, "You can change that part of it over my dead body!"

The rest is history, and "Believe" celebrated being 25 years old in 2023. While a quarter of a century is a big deal, Cher doesn't want to think about it too much. "It's not that amazing, okay?" she deadpanned during an appearance on "Today," referring to getting older. Nevertheless, she celebrated the anniversary of the album by releasing a deluxe edition featuring the iconic single.