Cover Versions

Believe

Believe

Song: Believe
Artist: Adam Lambert
Previous artist: Ella Henderson
Original artist: Cher


Believe is a classic example of a song that can be slowed down to create a whole new
experience for music listeners.
The song has had what can only be described as a checkered existence. On one hand,
In 2007, it ranked No. 10 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 20 Most Annoying Songs poll.
Some 14 years later, it would rank in the same magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All
Time. Go figure!
Of course, the above rankings are based on opinions. But the facts are that Cher’s
version is one of the best-selling singles of all time. In the UK, it was (and maybe still is)
the highest-selling single by a female artist. It was Cher’s fifth song to top the US charts
and at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, it was voted Best Dance Recording.
Not too shabby for an “annoying” song. Perhaps the song gets that epithet because
audio processing software called Auto-Tune was used to distort Cher’s voice in what
some might consider it to be an annoying fashion .This would be called the “Cher effect..”
and would subsequently be copied by many.

Adam Lambert’s slowed-down version reduced Cher to tears when he performed it at
2018’s 41st Kennedy Center Honors Show in recognition of her work. She would later tell
Britain’s Guardian newspaper: “That’s one of the greatest vocal performances of any
song by anybody.” Praise indeed.

It wasn’t the first time Lambert had performed the slowed down version. He had sung it
that way on American Idol in 2007 and finished runner-up in the contest.
A year after the Honors performance Lambert would release Believe as a single that
reached 23 in the charts.
Following his Idol appearance Lambert went on to combine a successful solo career
with being the lead singer of Queen following the death of Freddie Mercury. 
Another cover version worthy of note was unveiled by a 16-year-old – Ella Henderson –
in 2012, three years after Lambert’s interpretation.
Henderson’s version also left a teary impression on one of the X factor UK judges,
Nicole Scherzinger. Fellow judge Gary Barlow was in the 2007 Rolling Stone camp with his appraisal of the song. He said: “If I were to have a top five list of most annoying songs of
all time that would come close to the top for me. But I would pay a lot of money to hear
that version again.”
Later, he added, when discussing it with other judges: “All of a sudden, those lyrics meant
something completely different.”
Henderson was much-fancied to win the contest but was eliminated early in the final.
She signed for Syco Music, and her first album topped the UK charts.

Footnote: Lambert had an internet success (more than four million views) with the
speeded-up version of Believe. He joined Jimmy Fallon on That’s My Jam and was
challenged to do an impromptu rendition of the kids song, The Muffin Man, in the style
of Cher.
Fallon asked the Jam Band to “give us something with a Cher feel,” and they
immediately struck up the instrumental of Believe. I have always been a cynic and feel
that this fell together a bit too well to be a truly off-the-cuff performance. But that doesn’t
reduce its appeal. Judge for yourself below.

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