Cher Recalls Being the ‘First’ to Use Auto-Tune on ‘Believe’ Record After Argument with Producer

  • Cher revealed that an argument with a producer led to her auto-tuned 1998 comeback hit “Believe” during an appearance on The Jennifer Hudson Show
  • The singer credited her song for being the “first” to ever use auto-tune
  • In 2023, the legendary performer celebrated the 25th anniversary of her Believe album, which featured the title track

Who knew a studio argument would lead to one of Cher’s greatest hits?

The iconic singer, 78, appeared on The Jennifer Hudson Show on Tuesday, June 11, where she named “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe” as two of her favorite songs she’s ever recorded. This revelation then led to a funny story about how the latter — which Cher credits for being the “first” auto-tuned track — surfaced after an argument with co-producer Mark Taylor.

“My record ‘Believe’ was the first time auto-tune was ever used. It was called pitch machine, and it happened because of an argument that I had with my producer,” the Heart of Stone legend recalled. “And I love him. We never had any other argument, but we were doing the song, and the chorus sang itself, but the verse was just– it laid there and laid there.”

Cher continued explaining how Taylor kept telling her to sing the verse “better,” to which she said, “I’m singing it as good as I can.”

By their fourth take, when Taylor still insisted that the vocalist “sing it better,” Cher told Hudson that she fired back, “You know, you want someone to sing it better, get another singer.”

Cher at “Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love” held at Avalon Hollywood on March 2, 2023 in Los Angeles.

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty

“And then I walked out,” the “Strong Enough” singer added with a laugh. “But then he called me the next day, and he said, ‘Cher, I just got this thing in, it’s called a pitch machine. And I’m doing some things and give me a couple hours and then come in ‘cause I think I’ve got something really interesting.’”

After the producer played Cher the track at the studio, she said, “We both jumped up and high-fived. It was just the emotion of it.”

Hudson, 42, noted their reaction was probably because “you just knew it was a hit right there,” although Cher replied, “Well, we didn’t know it was a hit, but we knew we loved it.” 

This year marks the 26th anniversary of Cher’s 1998 Believe album. The singer celebrated 25 years of the LP, which marked her 22nd studio album, last year by dropping a deluxe edition with 13 remastered remixes and a double CD. However, she seemed less than impressed with the project’s title comeback hit — which largely popularized the use of auto-tune in pop music — while looking back on it in a Today show interview in November.

“It’s not that amazing, OK? It pisses the f— out of me,” Cher joked of the song. “No, it just is like… what is this?”

Cher arrives at the “Bob Mackie: Naked Illusion”: A Legendary Evening With Bob Mackie, Carol Burnett, RuPaul Charles, Cher & Friends at Directors Guild Of America on May 13, 2024 in Los Angeles.

Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

The legendary singer performed a duet of the song with Hudson live at the iHeartRadio Music Awards this year, where she was also presented with the coveted icon award. After their performance, Cher reflected on how “blessed and lucky” she felt to receive the honor after her hard-won success.

“I don’t usually talk about it, but I have been down and out so many times that you cannot believe,” she said in her acceptance speech. “I’ve been dropped by my record companies and couldn’t get a job and at that time, I went to Las Vegas, which they called the elephant’s graveyard — and I had a huge show, lots of people, bungees, all that and they just said, ‘Oh God, she’s so over.’ But I never gave up my dream and standing on this stage.”

The “After All” performer continued, “From my experiences, have a dream, and then don’t give it up no matter what happens. Because I know from my own experience that if you have a dream and you stick with it, you will have a wonderful life and it probably will come true. And that’s it for me.”

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