Saturday, March 13, 1999

Cher “Believe” hit #1



Writer(s): Paul Barry, Cher, Matt Gray, Brian Higgins, Stuart McLennan, Tim Powell, Steve Torch (see lyrics here)

Released: October 19, 1998

First Charted: October 31, 1998

Peak: 14 US, 2 RR, 3 AC, 5 A40, 17 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU, 14 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.8 US, 2.4 UK, 11.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.4 radio, 255.48 video, 416.63 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The pitch-correction software known as Auto-Tune first hit the market in 1997. Andy Hildebrand, who had a PhD in electrical engineering, came up with the idea when a friend’s wife asked if he could invent something to help her sing in tune. The music industry latched on to it as a great time and money saver. The intent was to make minor corrections that would go unnoticed, but the industry latched on to a new sound. The zero setting on Auto-Tune changed vocal pitches instantly instead of gradually, making voices sound unnatural and robotic. Eventually the users’ manual would refer to the zero setting as the “Cher effect.” SG

It isn’t a certainty that Cher’s “Believe” was the first to use the feature, but it become known as “as the song that introduced that freaky Auto-Tune effect into the world.“ SG British songwriter Brian Higgins wrote the song which became a reflection on moving on with one’s life after a breakup. SG Rob Dickins, the chariman of Warner Brothers Records in the UK, “loved the chorus but thought the verses were trash.” SG He was interested in making a dance album with Cher and turned to producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling, who’d worked with Gina G and Danni Minogue. FB

They turned the song over to other writers and introduced the vocal effect to the song. They thought it could give Cher a hit in the clubs but were afraid she rejected it. She loved it. When Dickins wanted the effect removed, Cher said, “Over my dead body!” SG It “definitely lends a weird novelty to ‘Believe,’ which is otherwise…a pretty average Euro-dance track.” SG “Cher belts the hell out of the chorus, and her voice is deep and rich and distinctive. But for whatever reason, it sounds better when it’s been digitally diced into atoms.” SG “There were better dance tracks coming out in the late ‘90s, but there weren’t any bigger ones.” SG

It gave the singer the biggest hit of her life. SG She’d first hit #1 with partner Sonny on 1965’s “I Got You Babe,” which gave Cher the longest span between her first and last #1 hit. FB Her last chart topper had been 25 years earlier with 1974’s “Dark Lady.” At 52 years old, Cher replaced Grace Slick as the oldest woman to sing lead on a #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. SG In the UK, it became the highest-selling single bya solo female artist. WK Billboard named it the biggest hit of 1999.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Cher
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 879.
  • SG Stereogum (7/4/2022). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 10/17/2022.