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State Of The Edit: Exploring Remix Albums & Culture In 2022
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State Of The Edit: Exploring Remix Albums & Culture In 2022

From Madonna's 'Finally Enough Love' to Dua Lipa's 'Club Future Nostalgia,' pop icons are reinvigorating the art of the remix in 2022. But their efforts — or those of their producers — are just the latest in a decades-long artform and culture.

GRAMMYs/Aug 18, 2022 - 02:21 pm

Remixing singles, albums and catalogs became a standard part of major label marketing plans for pop stars in the ‘90s and 2000s. While the business practice is currently seeing resurgence, remix culture — the celebration of remixing as a true craft — has been continually appreciated on dancefloors worldwide.

Case in point: Michael Jackson’s Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. The 1997 remix album isn’t regularly referenced as a highlight in the late entertainer’s vast catalog — or even as one of the best examples of the remix format. But, more than 25 years after it was released, Jackson’s platinum-certified collection remains the biggest selling remix album of all time.

"That’s an amazing fact," English producer/remixer Terry Farley tells GRAMMY.com when informed of Jackson’s standing achievement. Under the name Fire Island, Farley remixed Jackson’s "Money" for Blood on the Dance Floor with his frequent collaborator Pete Heller. Although the duo didn’t have any contact with Jackson during the project, they were compensated well enough to be able to hire musicians to record new elements for remixes. That’s something Farley says is now only afforded to the top one percent of remixers.

"Some labels don’t even offer studio time money," Farley says of the current climate for commissioning remixes. "Most labels and DJs seem okay with this situation. It’s sad because back in the day, the better the desk, the better the sound."

Remix albums, like Dua Lipa’s Club Future Nostalgia, made a comeback during the pandemic. Club Future Nostalgia features remixes by a roster of in-demand international touring DJs/producers like The Blessed Madonna, Kaytranada (who won two GRAMMY Awards in 2021), Masters At Work, Dmitri From Paris, Mr. Fingers and Moodymann, plus cameos from the actual Madonna, Missy Elliott and Jamiroquai.

"It was the perfect opportunity to create something like this," Dua Lipa told GRAMMY.com in August 2020. "I had what felt like all the time in the world, and everyone's at home. It doesn't really happen so often that you get the opportunity to collaborate with all these incredible producers and artists. I think it was of-the-moment that I was able to snap everyone up, especially The Blessed Madonna, who would've been on tour by [that] time. This album really came to be because of the current climate."

A Connection To The Past

Remix albums can be a way to introduce younger listeners to unfamiliar genres as well as artists who have passed away, such as with the 2021 release of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good: Her Greatest Hits and Remixes on Verve Records. The collection is an extension of the classic jazz label’s Verve Remixed album series, which features remixes of songs by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and other dearly departed stars.

Verve Remixed was created by Dahlia Ambach-Caplin, who was Verve’s international publicist at the time, and it remains the longest-running remix album series in America. Now, Ambach-Caplin is the SVP A&R for Verve, Verve Forecast and Impulse.

"We concocted the idea by witnessing the growing group of electronic producers who were using jazz in their music and [feeling that] we could bring songs of the catalog to a brand new audience," she tells GRAMMY.com. "The whole idea was to leave the songs as recognizable as possible so people would be drawn to hear the originals. We always released a companion album of originals in the same order and it sold well too. Everyone at the label was super open to keep revitalizing the catalog and electronic music was an area of growth with producers excited to jump in."

"When this series started the remix was still an ode to a vibrant culture – DJs, electronic and hip-hop," says Todd Roberts, Head of Music Publishing Creative at MNRK and Executive Producer of Verve Remixed with Ambach-Caplin from 2005-2013. "Now, I think 'remix culture' is unfortunately being led by lazy marketing executives looking to capture peripheral new trends in music."

Though there’s a lot of mediocrity to wade through in general, Roberts points to the remix work of artists like Kaytranada, DJ Koze and Moodymann as proof that there are still producers who view remix culture as a craft and a tradition to build on further. 

The concept of a big budget remix album will be back in the mainstream music spotlight with the August 19 release of Madonna’s Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones. The album contains 50 of her remixes that have topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart — a feat that hasn’t been replicated by any other recording artist on any Billboard chart —  some of which also appeared on her first remix album, 1987’s You Can Dance.

Finally Enough Love features a generationally and stylistically varied lineup of producers, including early remixers like Shep Pettibone, Junior Vasquez and David Morales, transgender house music producer Honey Dijon and the late Swedish DJ Avicii. Madonna’s last album, 2019’s Madame X, failed to go gold, but the nostalgic and career-spanning selection of Finally Enough Love coupled with the release coinciding with a host of 40th anniversary Madonna reissues might give it a better chance at earning higher sales. 

"Classics from Madonna’s catalog of remixes are always going to track better than her new music, I think," says Roberts. "Remarketing is free money for the labels essentially, whereas breaking new songs from an older artist is usually gonna be more work."

The Material Girl may already be on the way to having a summer blockbuster. A representative for Rhino Records told GRAMMY.com that pre-sales of the vinyl version of Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones sold out in less than 48 hours.

From Tools To Tracks

From slashing to clicking, the tools of remixing have evolved dramatically alongside technology. Today’s remixes are largely made by using software to manipulate digital audio files — a far cry from the razorblade-to-reel editing of the '70s and '80s, which could draw actual blood alongside the sweat and tears. The Latin Rascals (Albert Cabrera and Tony Moran) exemplified the stuttering, stop-and-go style of razor editing in the mid-80s. Highlights include the extended drum breaks in their reconstructions of songs like Bauhaus lead singer Peter Murphy’s solo song "Final Solution," Aretha Franklin’s "Freeway of Love" and their "Version Latina" of Pet Shop Boys’ "Opportunities."

The '90s level of remixing that Farley recalled often included recording entirely new musical elements and arrangements to lay on top of an existing work. This was exemplified by the first two winners of the GRAMMY Award for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical (later changed to Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical): house music pioneers and long time Def Mix business partners Frankie Knuckles and David Morales.

Knuckles, who passed away in 2014, was widely known as the "Godfather of House" and was a prolific remixer in addition to a producer of his own music. Then and now, Frankie Knuckles remixes stand out as elaborate new studio arrangements of songs, often with the addition of live piano and new supporting vocals. In the year leading up to his 1998 GRAMMY Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical win for his "Franktidrama Club Mix" of Toni Braxton’s "Un-Break My Heart," Knuckles crafted elaborate new arrangements of songs  by Michael Jackson ("You Are Not Alone," for Blood on the Dance Floor), Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige.

Morales — who won the golden gramophone for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical in 1999 for his work with Mariah Carey — maintained an equally busy schedule of remixing. Carey was particularly hands-on in the remix process with Morales, who also won Album Of The Year in 1996 as a producer on Carey’s Daydream.

"When it came to remixing Mariah Carey's songs, we usually went in and re-sang the song," Morales told the Recording Academy in 2016. 

For Carey’s "Fantasy," for example, Morales disregarded the downtempo instrumentation of the original. Instead, he went into her studio to build a fresh club-ready backing song on her studio’s Sony digital multitrack machines.

"‘Fantasy’ was almost 80 tracks [of new sounds]," he noted. "I programmed my drums on drum machines and Satoshi Tomiie programmed keyboards on Vision software. Terry Burrus played live piano. First, I had to create the music for the remix, which really had nothing to do with the original version. Once that’s done then Mariah comes in and does what Mariah does: she vibes to the track and makes it happen. I did a couple of different versions of the remix so there's something special about all of them."

Back To The Edit

Since the Jamaican practice of making new versions and dubs of songs dates back at least to the '60s, Sean Combs drew international side eyes when he named his 2002 Bad Boy Records remix compilation We Invented The Remix. But the trend-savvy businessman then known as P. Diddy also sold enough copies for the collection to be certified platinum, opening the door to even more hip-hop and R&B remixes to follow.

"Remix culture is Jamaican soundsystem culture," Roberts says. "While I think any genre being remixed can qualify, it is an art and not easy."

Years later, even country music has a place in the current remix conversation. It’s a popular category for BPM Supreme, a Los Angeles company that offers a "record pool" of digital remixes and edits of songs for DJs and employs a network of remixers around the world. Country also serves as a remixing muse for buzzing groups such as England’s Flying Mojito Bros, who fashion old songs by country acts like Ronnie Milsap and Crosby, Stills and Nash into cosmic disco dance floor heaters.

The practice of remixing hasn’t slowed down, but in 2022, a shopper on a DJ-centric music site such as Beatport might find more tracks labeled as edits than remixes — though this refers to edits made on a computer instead of with a razorblade. 

That shift in terminology is perhaps fitting for the general effort and relative lack of larger investment that’s currently put into this craft. Though the era of big budget business-minded remixes may be past, remix culture will continue whether it’s within or outside of the gaze of the music business.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Michael Jackson Wins Best Recording For Children, The Award He Was "Most Proud Of" At The 1984 GRAMMYs
(L-R) Michael Jackson & Quincy Jones at the 1984 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

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GRAMMY Rewind: Michael Jackson Wins Best Recording For Children, The Award He Was "Most Proud Of" At The 1984 GRAMMYs

Michael Jackson took home eight golden gramophones at the 1984 GRAMMYs, but felt most rewarded by his win for his audiobook and soundtrack companion album for 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.'

GRAMMYs/Dec 1, 2023 - 06:00 pm

Michael Jackson made history with his groundbreaking album Thriller in 1982. But while the icon was smashing pop records, he was also venturing into a new avenue: narration.

Jackson was the voice of the audiobook and soundtrack companion album for Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking 1982 classic, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The album won the King of Pop one of his eight GRAMMYs in 1984 – and it may have been the most important win of his career. 

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, relive the night Jackson won Best Recording for Children with Quincy Jones, who produced the LP, at the 26th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

"One of the most dangerous joint decisions Michael and I made was to accept to do an album for Steven Spielberg," Jones explained at the beginning of their acceptance speech before expressing gratitude for the film's cast and crew.

"I don't thank the people who stopped this record from coming out," Jones said, alluding to the backlash MCA Records received from Epic for releasing the project at the same time as Thriller.

"Of all the awards I've gotten, I'm most proud of this one," Jackson revealed. "I think children are a great inspiration, and this album is not for children. It's for everyone. I'm so happy, and I'm so proud. Thank you so much."

Press play on the video above to hear Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones's complete acceptance speech for Best Recording for Children at the 1984 GRAMMY Awards, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

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10 Halloween Songs That Have Won GRAMMYs: "Thriller," "Ghostbusters" & More
Ray Parker Jr performs "Ghostbusters" for Freeform's "31 Nights of Halloween Fan Fest" in 2019.

Photo: Image Group LA via Getty Images

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10 Halloween Songs That Have Won GRAMMYs: "Thriller," "Ghostbusters" & More

With Halloween celebrations in full swing this Oct. 31, revisit 10 eerie or ghoulishly titled songs that have all been awarded music's top honor, from the 'Exorcist' theme to Eminem and Rihanna's "The Monster."

GRAMMYs/Oct 31, 2023 - 12:56 pm

If the holiday of trick or treating, pumpkin carving, and decorating your front porch with skeletons is your favorite of the year, then you'll no doubt already have a playlist stacked with creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky bangers ready to fire up on Oct. 31. But if you want to add a bit of prestige to your supernatural soundtrack, there's another list of Halloween-friendly songs to check out — one that highlights another celebrated annual occasion.

While the GRAMMYs might not yet have awarded Rob Zombie, Jukebox the Ghost, or And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead, it has embraced the odd musical spooktacular in several forms. In 1988, for example, it gave Halloween obsessive Frank Zappa Best Rock Instrumental Performance for Jazz from Hell. A year later, it handed Robert Cray Band Best Contemporary Blues Recording for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. And it's also dished out goodies (of the statuette, rather than the sweet, variety) to the likes of Mavis Staples' "See That My Grave Is Clean," Chick Corea's "Three Ghouls," and Mastodon's "A Sultan's Curse."

With Halloween 2023 fast approaching, here's a closer look at ten other tracks which left the music industry's biggest awards show completely bewitched.

Stevie Wonder — "Superstition" (1974)

It seems unlikely that Stevie Wonder walked under a ladder, crossed a black cat, or 'broke the lookin' glass' while recording "Superstition" — the squelchy Moog-funk classic kickstarted his remarkable run of 25 GRAMMY Awards when it won both Best Rhythm and Blues Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance Male in 1974. Taken from what many consider to be his magnum opus, Talking Book, "Superstition" also gave Wonder his first No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 in over a decade. And the soul legend further leaned into its supernatural theme in 2013 when he appeared as a witch doctor in a Bud Light Super Bowl commercial soundtracked by the Tamla favorite.

Mike Oldfield — "Tubular Bells" (1975)

Incredibly, considering how perfectly it complements all-time classic horror The Exorcist, Mike Oldfield's prog-rock epic Tubular Bells was recorded long before director William Friedkin came calling. Mike Oldfield, then aged only 19, used a variety of obscure instruments across its two mammoth pieces. Yet, it's the brilliantly creepy Steinway piano riffs which open Side One that are still most likely to bring anyone who experienced the movie's hysteria in a cold sweat. Oldfield was rewarded for helping to scar a generation of cinemagoers for life when a condensed version of his eerie masterpiece picked up the Best Instrumental Composition GRAMMY.

The Charlie Daniels Band — "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (1980)

The Charlie Daniels Band certainly proved their storytelling credentials in 1979 when they put their own Southern country-fied spin on the old "deal with the devil" fable. Backed by some fast and furious fiddles, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" tells the tale of a young musician named Johnny who bumps into Beelzebub himself during a jam session in the Peach State. Experiencing a downturn in soul-stealing, the latter then bets he can win a fiddle-off, offering an instrument in gold form against Johnny's spiritual essence. Luckily, the less demonic party proves he's the "best that's ever been" in a compelling tale GRAMMY voters declared worthy of a prize, Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group.

Michael Jackson — "Thriller" (1984)

The 1984 GRAMMYs undeniably belonged to Michael Jackson. The King of Pop picked up a whopping 11 nominations for his first blockbuster album, Thriller, and then converted seven of them into wins (he also took home Best Recording for Children for his narration on audiobook E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial). Remarkably, the title track's iconic John Landis-directed video didn't feature at all: its making of, however, did win Best Music Film the following year. But the song itself did pip fellow superstars Prince, Billy Joel, and Lionel Richie to the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance crown. Jackson would also win a GRAMMY 12 years later for another Halloween-esque anthem, his Janet Jackson duet "Scream."

Duran Duran — "Hungry Like the Wolf" (1984)

Produced by Colin Thurston, the man behind another early '80s Halloween-friendly classic, (Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy"), "Hungry Like the Wolf" cemented Duran Duran's status as MTV icons. Alongside their much raunchier earlier clip for "Girls on Film," its jungle-themed promo was also responsible for giving the Second British Invasion pin-ups the inaugural GRAMMY Award for Best Music Video, Short Form; it featured on the Duran Duran compilation that was crowned Best Video Album, too. Frontman Simon Le Bon had been inspired to write their U.S. breakthrough hit by Little Red Riding Hood, giving the new wave classic its sinister, and appropriately predatory, edge.

Ray Parker Jr. — "Ghostbusters" (1985)

Ray Parker Jr. not only topped the Hot 100 for four weeks with his ode to New York's finest parapsychologists, he also picked up a GRAMMY. Just don't expect to hear "who you gonna call?" in the winning version: For it was in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance where "Ghostbusters" reigned supreme. The fact that Parker Jr. wrote, performed, and produced the entire thing meant he still took home the trophy. However, Huey Lewis no doubt felt he should have been the one making the acceptance speech. The blue-eyed soulman settled out of court after claiming the spooky movie theme had borrowed its bassline from "I Want a New Drug," a track Ghostbusters' director Ivan Reitman admitted had been played in film footage intended to inspire Parker Jr.

Ralph Stanley — "O Death" (2002)

Traditional Appalachian folk song "O Death" had previously been recorded by the likes of gospel vocalist Bessie Jones, folklorist Mike Seeger, and Californian rockers Camper Van Beethoven, just to name a few. Yet it was Ralph Stanley's 2002 version where GRAMMY voters first acknowledged its eerie a cappella charms. Invited to record the morbid number for the Coen brothers' period satire O Brother, Where Art Thou, the bluegrass veteran won Best Male Country Vocal Performance at the 2002 ceremony, also picking up a second GRAMMY alongside the likes of Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, and Emmylou Harris when the soundtrack was crowned Album Of The Year.

Skrillex — "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" (2012)

David Bowie fans may well feel aggrieved that his post-punk classic "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" was entirely ignored by GRAMMY voters, while the bro-step banger it inspired was showered with awards. The title track from EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites added Best Dance Recording to Skrillex's 2012 haul: the asymmetrically haired producer also walked away with Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Remixed Recording: Non-Classical for his work on Benny Benassi's "Cinema." Packed with speaker-blasting beats, distorted basslines, and aggressive synths, Skrillex's wall of noise is enough to scare anyone off their pumpkin pie.

Eminem and Rihanna — "The Monster" (2015)

Who says lightning can't strike twice? Just four years after picking up five GRAMMY nominations for their transatlantic chart-topper "Love the Way You Lie," unlikely dream team Eminem and Rihanna once again joined forces for another hip-pop masterclass. Unlike their previous collab, however, "The Monster" didn't go home empty-handed, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2015 ceremony. The boogeyman hiding under the bed here, of course, isn't a Frankenstein-esque creation, but the mix of paranoia, self-doubt, and OCD that leads the Real Slim Shady into thinking he needs a straitjacket.

Jason Isbell — "If We Were Vampires" (2018)

While the Twilight franchise may have failed to add a GRAMMY to its trophy cabinet, it did pick up several nominations. But four years after the Team Edward vs Team Jacob saga wrapped up, folk hero Jason Isbell proved mythical bloodsuckers weren't a barrier to awards success. Emerging victorious in only the fifth ever Best Americana Roots Song category, "If We Were Vampires" is a little less emo than the various Twilight soundtracks. Still, as a love song dedicated to wife Amanda Shires, and the quiet acceptance that the Grim Reaper will inevitably end their story, it's certainly no less emotional.  

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10 Ways Cher's "Believe" Changed Pop Music
Cher performs in 2000.

Photo: JMEnternational/Redferns

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10 Ways Cher's "Believe" Changed Pop Music

As Cher's GRAMMY-winning hit celebrates its 25th anniversary, blast "Believe" and dig into the many ways it became one of pop's all-time classics.

GRAMMYs/Oct 19, 2023 - 02:39 pm

The incomparable Cher had already achieved iconic status long before she dropped the title track from her 22nd studio effort, Believe, at the tail end of 1998. After all, this was an artist who'd forged one of the most successful pop duos of the '60s, scored a record-breaking trio of number ones in the '70s, and reinvented herself as an MTV goddess in the '80s. Not to mention her contributions outside of music: the hit variety shows, Broadway runs, and Hollywood moonlighting — the latter of which saw her win an Oscar.

But the success of "Believe" was still unlike anything else Cher had achieved during her illustrious 35 years in the business. It reached No. 1 in 21 different countries across the globe (including a four-week stint at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.), sold 11 million copies, and cleaned up at everything from the International Dance Music Awards to the Ivor Novellos. For a good 12 months, it was practically impossible to avoid hearing its dance-pop beats, lovelorn lyrics and, of course, that famous robotic vocal effect.

But "Believe" didn't just significantly impact Cher's already glittering career — it also changed the face of pop music as we know it. From inspiring other divas to get their groove on to pioneering a piece of now-ubiquitous studio technique, take a look at 10 ways "Believe" impacted pop.

It Smashed Multiple Chart Records 

It would almost be quicker to list which chart records "Believe" didn't completely obliterate. The song spent 21 weeks atop Billboard's Hot Dance Singles Sales, and was still in the Top 10 a full year later. It was also crowned the year-end No. 1 on both the Dance Club Songs and Hot 100 charts. And it produced the longest-ever gap between chart-toppers on the latter — 33 years and seven months, to be exact — as Cher's first No. 1 on the chart came in 1965 with her Sonny Bono duet "I Got You Babe."

"Believe" was just as successful across the pond, beating George Michael, U2, Culture Club, and Alanis Morisette in a famous five-way battle for No. 1. And with 1.8 million copies sold, it's still the U.K.'s highest-selling single by a female performer.

It Inspired Several Divas To Dance 

Cher had initially resisted Warner UK label boss Rob Dickins' idea to pursue a dance direction, reportedly arguing that the genre wasn't conducive to "real songs." It's unlikely many of her peers took much persuading, however, after witnessing the monumental success of "Believe."

In fact, pretty much every pop diva on the other side of 50 seemed to take to the dance floor over the following 12 months: see Diana Ross' "Not Over You Yet," Tina Turner's "When the Heartache Is Over," and Donna Summer's "I Will Go With You (Con Te Partiro)." Madonna (Confessions on a Dancefloor), Kylie Minogue (Tension), and Cyndi Lauper (Bring Ya to the Brink) have all since proved middle age and dance music needn't be mutually exclusive terms with entire albums tailor-made for the clubs.

It Finally Gave Cher A Grammy 

It seems hard to believe that Cher had to wait until the turn of the millennium to pick up her first GRAMMY. The pop veteran had previously been nominated alongside then-husband Sonny Bono in the Best New Artist category in 1966. The pair also received a nod in the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group in 1972 for "All I Ever Need Is You," the same year Cher was recognized as a solo artist with a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance nomination for "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves." But on all three occasions, Cher went home empty-handed.

The star finally emerged victorious in 2000, however, when "Believe" won Best Dance Recording. (The song and same-named parent LP had picked up nods for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, respectively, too). Peter Rauhofer was also crowned Best Remixer of the Year for his work on the track under the guise of Club 69.

It Paved The Way For An Exciting '00s Hit Factory 

Nine different people, including Cher herself, are given songwriting/production credits on "Believe." But the most interesting behind-the-scenes name is Brian Higgins, the man who penned an early version of the track a full eight years before it was released. A virtual unknown when the finished product finally arrived, Higgins would go on to shape the following decade of British pop music thanks to his pioneering work as part of the production powerhouse known as Xenomania.

Best-known for guiding the career of their ultimate muses, Girls Aloud, the team also carved out weird and wonderful singles for Sugababes, The Saturdays, and Alesha Dixon.Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue, and Saint Etienne were just a few of the more established names who turned to Xenomania for hit-making assistance, too.

It Made Cher Relevant Again 

Cher looked to have been consigned to heritage act status before "Believe" came to the rescue. She'd only scored one U.S. Top 10 hit in the 1990s ("Just Like Jesse James") and that was at the very start of the decade; her last studio effort, covers album It's A Man's World, had peaked at a lowly No. 64 on the Billboard 200. But Cher isn't known as a comeback queen for nothing. The Believe campaign not only saved her from the musical wilderness, but it also kickstarted the most consistent, if undoubtedly sporadic, chapter of her career.

Indeed, although "Strong Enough" and "Song for the Lonely" are her only Hot 100 entries since (No. 57 and 85, respectively), 2001's Living Proof, 2013's Closer to the Truth, and 2018's ABBA tribute Dancing Queen have all reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200. And while Cher was always a powerful live draw, the Believe era took things to new heights: 2002's long-running (and misleadingly-named) The Farewell Tour, grossed $200 million across a whopping 325 dates to become the highest-grossing concert series by a female artist at the time.

It Proved Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number 

Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, and Tina Turner had all previously reached the top of the Hot 100 in their forties. But no female artist had ever achieved such a feat until "Believe" came along. Cher was aged 52 years and nine months when the dance-pop anthem took her number one tally to four in March 1999. And while the annual return of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" saw a 53-year-old Mariah Carey surpass this milestone in 2022, Cher can still lay claim to being the oldest chart-topping woman with a newly released song.

The star will have to score a fifth, however, if she's to break the all-time record: Louis Armstrong was three months shy of his 63rd birthday when he knocked The Beatles off pole position with 1963's "Hello Dolly."

It Introduced The World To Auto-Tune 

According to Pitchfork, a remarkable 99 percent of all contemporary pop music utilizes the pitch-altering recording technique known as Auto-Tune. And that's pretty much all down to The Cher Effect. Although designed to subtly correct a wayward vocal, the producers of "Believe" decided to make it blatantly obvious that studio trickery had been at play, transforming one of pop's most easily identifiable voices into that of a wobbly android.

Cher had to fight to keep the song's unique selling point, telling unconvinced label bosses they'd have to remove it "over my dead body." And her instinct proved to be right. The pioneering use of Auto-Tune was undoubtedly the catalyst for the song's phenomenal success, ultimately paving the way for everyone fromLil Wayne andT-Pain toDaft Punk andBlack Eyed Peas.

It Became A Pop Culture Fixture

You know a song has entered the nation's consciousness when it's been parodied by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. But South Park's incomprehensible version of "Believe," which appeared in season 3 episode "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub," isn't the only way in which the chart-topper has permeated pop culture over the past 25 years.

It was also given the spoof treatment by MADtv, has become a lip-sync battle regular, and featured in the star-studded medley in Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga. More recently, it was mashed up with "The Muffin Man" by Adam Lambert for a That's My Jam performance that went viral.

It Brought Back Crying At The Disco 

Cher had asked many questions through the medium of pop during her illustrious career: "Am I Blue?" "Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore?" "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" But it was undoubtedly "Believe" on which she posed her most pressing. "Do you believe in life after love?," she sings in the famously Auto-Tuned chorus, a clever turn of phrase which set the song up as the '90s answer to "I Will Survive"; follow-up single "Strong Enough" would go even further by essentially borrowing its string section.

The "crying at the disco" anthem had largely fallen out of favor since Gloria Gaynor's heyday. But "Believe" proved once again it was possible to pour your heart out and throw some shapes at the same time. Robyn ("Dancing On My Own"), Pussycat Dolls ("Hush, Hush"), and Madonna ("Sorry") are just a few of the artists who appeared to be taking note.

It's Become A Part Of The Modern American Songbook 

What do tween collective Kidz Bop, punk rock supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and Swedish synth-pop songstress Anna of the North all have in common? They've all put their own spin on the dance-pop masterpiece that is Cher's "Believe." And they're not the only ones, either.

In 2023, DMA's rendition wascrowned the all-time best cover to emerge from Aussie radio station Triple J's feature Like a Version.Manchester Orchestra,Lucy Dacus, and Jessie Ware have all interpreted the smash hit in their own distinctive ways over the past 18 months, too. And it's become a talent show staple thanks to ballad versions by the likes ofAdam Lambert,Jeffery Austin, andSheldon Riley. Should the Great American Songbook ever get modernized, then "Believe" is a shoo-in.

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(From left) Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, David Byrne and Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads attend a 'Stop Making Sense' Q&A in Brooklyn

Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for BAM

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The concert film seems to be having a moment. From the Talking Heads to Queen, read on for 11 concert film experiences that will help keep the party going.

GRAMMYs/Oct 18, 2023 - 02:51 pm

A lavender haze has descended upon movie theaters across America. 

Taylor Swift’s filmed version of her historic Eras tour is the movie-music event of the year, dominating the box office becoming highest grossing dometic concert film in Hollywood history after a single weekend. Byt the time the Eras credits roll, you know all too well that you’re going to want to keep the party going.

Luckily, there are a breadth of artists whose musical singularity is reflected on the silver screen. Swift's major influence notwithstanding, the concert film seems to be having a moment in recent years: Pop stars such as Lizzo (Live in Concert), Selena Gomez (My Mind and Me) and Lewis Capaldi have released popular concert films.

From Beyoncé’s stunning Homecoming, to acclaimed concert films from Queen to Talking Heads and new entries like from the boys in BTS, read on for 11 excellent concert film experiences.

Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce (2019)

When Beyoncé headlined the Coachella Music and Arts Festival — the first Black woman to do so — in 2018, she didn’t just perform; she delivered a tour de force extravaganza that spurred a whole new moniker: Beychella. 

Shot over two nights, the Netflix film Homecoming includes a discography-spanning retrospective and memorable performances of "Run the World," "Single Ladies" and "Formation." Layered in ware nods to the Historically Black College and University experience, legends like Nina Simone and dazzling array of choreography, wardrobe and vocal chops. 

The New Yorker later hailed it a "triumphant self portrait" and "a spectacle of soul." Directed by Queen Bey herself, Homecoming took home the golden gramophone for Best Music Film at hte 62nd GRAMMYs. 

Stop Making Sense (1984)

The filmmaker Jonathan Demme is known for classics like Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, but he was also a major force in concert films. Among his achievements in this field is Stop Making Sense, his 1984 portrait of David Byrne and his Talking Heads.

Filmed at the peak of the band's popularity and following the release of Speaking in Tongues (which featured "This Must Be The Place" and "Burning Down the House,"), Stop Making Sense  is a cult classic, from its array of hits to the band’s massive suits which became their calling card. 

The film was re-released in theaters last month. "I'm kind of looking at it and thinking, who is that guy?," said David Byrne in a recent interview with NPR about watching his younger self. "I'm impressed with the film and impressed with our performance. But I'm also having this really jarring experience of thinking, ‘He's so serious.’" 

BTS: Yet to Come in Cinemas (2023)

While the GRAMMY-nominated South Korean superstars BTS may be on a break — Jung Kook recently announced that he will release his debut solo full-length- bask in the glow of the K-pop and their rollicking concert film earlier this year. In the film, Jung Kook alongside Jin, RM, Jimin, V, J-Hope as they smoothly perform their calvadace of hits, including "Butter" and"Dynamite" in a 2022 performance for Busan, South Korea’s rally to host the 2030 World Expo. 

The boys are actually no stranger to the genre, with Yet To Come marking their fifth concert film in addition to BTS Permission to Dance on Stage — Seoul: Live Viewing and 2020’s Break the Silence: The Movie among others. 

Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991)

With off-stage footage shot in black and white and performances in vivid color, this early '90s classic depicts Queen Madge at the height of her power. Taken from an actual game Madonna and friends play towards the end of the film (to scandalous results), Truth or Dare showcases the breadth of Madonna’s superstardom up until that point with performances of classics like "Holiday" and "Like a Virgin" with its artfully-shot juxtaposition of performance and documentary footage a trailblazer in the concert film genre. 

"The surprise of Truth or Dare is just what a blast Madonna is," wrote the Guardian on the occasion of the film’s 30th anniversary. "Nastily funny, openly horny, undisguised in her contempt for anyone she deems less fabulous than herself and her blessed collaborators." 

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011)

Way before Swiftmania, there was Bieber Fever. In the wake of Justin Bieber’s explosive rise, Never Say Never interspersed performances with snapshots of his journey from humble Canadian roots to global pop force to be reckoned with. 

Helmed by Jon M. Chu (who’d go onto direct blockbusters like Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights), Never Say Never is a time capsule of a younger, more innocent Bieber and his early earworm bubblegum hits. Until Swift's Eras is tallied it’s the top-grossing concert movie ever released in the USA. 

Prince: Sign o’ the Times (1987)

This iconic concert film was once hard to come by; after its theatrical run, Sign o’ the Times was only issued on VHS and eventually went out of print. But thanks to the magic of streaming, one can now easily transport oneself back to the '80s and enjoy the magic that is Prince

Directed by the artist and using his acclaimed 1987 album Sign o’ the Times as a jumping off point (the album itself was a 2017 inductee into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame), the film reminds viewers of the Purple One's magnetism. Under an array of colorful lights and performing to a raucous crowd, the icon may have died in 2016, but Sign o’ the Times serves as a deft time capsule of his royal talent. 

Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012)

As Katy Perry was in the midst of releasing her acclaimed album Teenage Dream, the pop singer had the foresight to chronicle the ensuing pandemonium.

 "I feel like it was, like, a big wave coming," she told ABC upon the release of Katy Perry: Part of Me, the 2012 concert film that documented her blockbuster California Dreams tour. "I thought to myself, 'Well, I think this is going to be a moment. Maybe I should catch it on tape. I'm either going to go completely mental, completely bankrupt, or have the best success of my life." 

Fortunately the later wound up occurring, with the subsequent film a celebrity-packed (featuring everyone from Lady Gaga to Adele) hit-filled ("Teenage Dream" and "California Girls") look into the life, times and music of the star. 

Queen: Live at Wembley ‘86 (1986)

Freddie Mercury and Queen were staples of London's Wembley Stadium, performing many memorable shows, including an iconic turn at Live Aid in the early '80s and a Mercury tribute show in the '90s. 

Songs like "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" fit right in on Wembley's massive stage, with the concert film depicting the thundering live versions of those classics. Relive those heady days with this film which showcases just what made Mercury and his band rock icons, and huge ones at that. 

"Mercury was indeed a born ringmaster," wrote CNN in a piece about their status as stadium savants. "There was no alienating affectation, no wallowing in sentiment... Queen consciously wrote their songs as vehicles for theatrics."

Summer of Soul (2021)

Back in 1969, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone and B.B. King joined forces for the Harlem Cultural Festival, a mostly forgotten multi-week legendary summit. That all changed when Roots frontman Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson obtained a treasure trove worth of footage and directed this stunning film, aptly dubbed Summer of Soul, which brought the event back to vivid life and subsequent acclaim including a GRAMMY Award for Best Music Film. 

"It was gold," Thompson told Pitchfork of his process of sifting through the footage to create what would become a passion project. "If anything, it was an embarrassment of riches. It was too much. I kept this on a 24-hour loop for about six months straight. Slept to it. Traveled to it. It was the only thing I consumed."

Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids (2016)

Also directed by Jonathan Demme and released before his 2017 death, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids showcases Timberlake's  popular 20/20 Experience World Tour and litany of solo hits including "Sexyback" and "Suit & Tie."  

"I don’t think anything can compete with live performance," admitted Demme to Rolling Stone before his death in 2017. "You can’t beat it. But we strive to provide the most exciting interpretation of that feeling, as filmmakers. We can provide a roving best seat in the house. We can linger on closeups. We can follow the dynamics of the music. I love shooting music." 

The Last Waltz (1978)

One of the earliest projects of director Martin Scorsese’s career was helping edit the monumental film version of Woodstock in 1970. But as that decade progressed and the auteur became known for narrative features including Mean Streets, he revisited his roots by directing The Last Waltz. A trailblazer in the genre, the film captures the last performance of The Band featuring frontman Robbie Robertson alongside a range of guests including Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton. Filmed on Thanksgiving Day in 1976, it’s a time capsule of the day’s biggest acts at the height of their artistry. 

"It's a picture that kind of saved my life at the time," Scorsese told an audience at the Toronto International Film Festival during a 2019 screening. "It's very special to me. Forty years on, it's very special to a great number of us."

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