Single Review: Cher “Believe”

Believe
Album: Believe
Year: 1998

In 1998, Cher needed to appeal to an audience (‘tweens) who probably thought of her as a aging plastic Barbie doll galavanting around award shows wearing the latest in stripper coutore.

Part of appearing cool, hip and young to the ‘tween crowd was enlisting Metro (Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling) to create a Europop flavored dance song. Unfortunately, it’s not really meant to be dance music. According to Taylor via cherworld.com “the hard part was trying to make one that wouldn’t alienate Cher’s existing fans. We couldn’t afford to have anyone say ‘I hate this because it’s dance’ — then we would have turned off loads of people who are used to hearing Cher do rock ballads and MOR songs….because kids on their own will buy a certain type of record, and adults on their own will buy another. The only way you can achieve sales of 1.5 million is to appeal to both camps. Getting that right was the most difficult part — and was the reason why I ended up doing the track twice!”

The single achieved worldwide success and rejunvated Cher’s languishing singing career. It also started another trend in U.S. pop music: using the vocoder to make the singer’s voices sound electronic.

The wannabe power house breakup anthem begins in the usual way for the genre: repeating strands of lyrics for a straight minute or so. (“After love, after love, after love, after love….After love, after love, after love, after love”). In the first verse, Cher’s boyfriend has been distant and unwilling to talk about his problems. (“No matter how hard I try/You keep pushing me aside/And I can’t break through/There’s no talking to you”). Then, it’s attack of the vocoder as she explains her shock but quickly gets over it (“It’s so sad that you’re leaving/It takes time to believe it/ But after all is said and done/You’re gonna be the lonely one”).

Cher doesn’t think she’ll fall in love ever again in the chorus. (” I can feel something inside me say/I really don’t think you’re strong enough, no/Do you believe in life after love?/I can feel something inside me say/I really don’t think you’re strong enough, no”).

The vocoder continues its unrelentless assault on the ears in the second verse. Cher dismisses her sadness and decides to forget about him. She wants to move on as quickly as possible (“What am I supposed to do/Sit around and wait for you/Well I can’t do that… I need love to feel strong/’Cause I’ve got time to think it through/And maybe I’m too good for you”).

In the bridge, Cher reaches for the high notes and proclaims she will survive (Well I know that I’ll get through this/’Cause I know that I am strong/I don’t need you anymore… No, I don’t need you anymore”).

Metro are holding back in “Believe” and it shows. It needs some flair and irony to work. Metro, despite their subpar work with Dannii Minogue and Cher, are excellent at remixing tracks and making songs for other pop singers. European dance music usually isn’t this uncool. Really. It’s actually trendsetting and reinventing itself all the time.

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