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‘Believe’ turns 20: How Cher’s Auto-Tuned hit changed music forever


Album of the Week: Cher’s ‘Dancing Queen’

Twenty years ago, a pop star on a downswing took a chance on a brand-new piece of recording software to do the unthinkable — taking her voice, her most recognizable asset, and robotizing it almost beyond recognition.

Cher’s “Believe,” her megahit that turns 20 on Monday, changed the way modern music is made, an amusing distinction for a song with vocals that bear more than a passing resemblance to Kermit the Frog. 

Yet, that doesn’t mean the distinction isn’t deserved. Without “Believe,” the first song to introduce Auto-Tune to the mainstream, who knows if, or how, the then-fledgling vocal effects program would’ve become the mainstay it is today, transforming pop vocals before revolutionizing the last decade of hip-hop.

The Auto-Tuned vocals in “Believe” almost didn’t make the track’s final cut, Cher told the New York Times in a 1999 interview about her comeback hit, her attempt at making a dance floor-friendly single that appealed to her gay fanbase after the disappointing sales of her 1995 album “It’s a Man’s World.”

”He said, ‘Everyone loves that song but wants to change that part of it,'” she said, describing her meeting with her record label’s president about the song. ”I said, ‘You can change that part of it, over my dead body!’ And that was the end of the discussion. I said to (“Believe” co-producer Mark Taylor) before I left, ‘Don’t let anyone touch this track, or I’m going to rip your throat out.'”

After months of producers and co-writers tinkering with the original version of “Believe,” Cher

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