#ThrowbackTunesday: Episode 41

Bonfire Night may be over for another year, but we’ve got more shooting stars than you can shake a sparkler at right now, with #ThrowbackTunesday, our weekly look back at five classic UK chart hits from this week in the last 25 years. Let’s see who’s on the playlist before we get to our featured former hit…

  • 1993: Cappella – U Got 2 Let The Music
  • 1998: Cher – Believe
  • 2003: Kylie Minogue – Slow
  • 2008: Alesha Dixon – The Boy Does Nothing
  • 2013: Little Mix – Move

    And our favourite song from this week’s #ThrowbackTunesday playlist is…

    • ARTIST: Cher
    • SONG: Believe
    • ALBUM: Believe

    When you’ve had a career spanning multiple decades, that started when you were 16 years old, and which has taken in Grammy, Emmy and Academy Awards along the way, as well as hundreds of millions of record sales worldwide, reinvention can’t help but come naturally to you.

    Just ask Cher. She started her career in a hugely popular duo with her late husband, Sonny Bono, in the 1960s. She’d been a triple threat: solo star, actress and comedian in the 1970s. And she’d become something of a rock chick into the 1980s. But it was indisputably in the 1990s, when she released a song that her career has come to be defined by – and which changed the course of pop music for the 21st century.

    Rob Dickins, the president of her label, Warner Music, was conscious of the fact she had a huge gay following when she came to start recording her 22nd studio album in 1998. He naturally suggested a move into the high energy, dance pop sound of the moment – a modern take on disco – may be the way forward.

    He immediately put Cher in contact with a young rapscallion answering to the name of Brian Higgins, the man of course, who famously founded Xenomania, the British team of pop producers and songwriters who went onto produce hit after hit for Girls Aloud, Kylie Minogue and Sugababes to name but several.

    His demo of ‘Believe’ showed early promise, but it was only when it got handed over to Brian Rawling and Mark Taylor at the rival production team Metrophonic, that it not only got turned into the final version we know and love today, but that a piece of production wizardry they’d applied transformed her vocal performance.

    The infamous vocodering of her voice – or AutoTune, as it’s more commonly known – was just a trick that Mark had tried. But he left it in, even though he worried what Cher’s response would be. “I wasn’t sure what Cher would say when she heard what I’d done to her voice but when she heard it she said, ‘It sounds great’. And when the record company suggested it be removed, she said ‘Over my dead body!'”

    And Cher’s demand for the effects to be kept in on ‘Believe’ proved a wise one. Against all the odds, this empowering tale of finding strength after moving on from a bad breakup captured the public imagination in a totally unprecedented manner.

    It not only thundered to number one in over 20 countries upon its release in October 1998, but in the UK, it stayed at the top for seven whole weeks, and with sales of over 1.8 million, it was not only the year’s biggest selling single, but remains the biggest selling single of all time in the UK by a female artist. And 20 years on, it seems we do still believe in life after love.

    Check out the full playlist here, and let us know what your favourite hit from the past is this week on our Twitter with the hashtag #ThrowbackTunesday!

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