"The Greatest Thing" is a song written in 2007, by Lady Gaga and RedOne. The song is registered as "Greatest" Lady Gaga's BMI. In 2011, The song was given to Cher for her upcoming twenty-sixth album and was scheduled to be the first single.
The song was written after the two wrote "Boys Boys Boys", and before their work in January of 2008. Interviewed by MTV about the song, Gaga replied: "I wrote that song a long time ago, and I've never put it on one of my own albums for, really, no particular reason. [...] I always write these concept records, and it just didn't fit in. But it's always been, like, this big, massive, beautiful hit record and everyone always says, 'Why don't you put that on your album?' And I said, 'I don't know, it just doesn't fit with everything else.' "
The line "'Cause when I'm with you, I fall apart", mirrors that of "Dance in the Dark", "'Cause, when he’s lookin’, she falls apart".
The song samples the classical piece, "Canon in D Major", by composer Johann Pachelbel. Asked about what kind of track, The Greatest Thing is, RedOne described the song as:
- "I think it's timeless. The beautiful thing about this song is, it's very uplifting, very uplifting. It's emotional, but it has dance on it, and it has a dance vibe on it. It's just a timeless song. You can play it with the guitar, the piano, with whatever instrument you want. You can sing it a acapella, you know what I mean, it's that kind of song" - MTV 2011
On July 14, 2011, Cher announced on her Twitter that Gaga and RedOne had given her a song and is set to be released on Cher's twenty second studio album under the title "The Greatest Thing".
- "[Gaga and I] recorded the song a few years ago, and we were always in the studio enjoying that song. It's weird we never did anything with it. So I remember my management and Cher's management were trying to get us together, and I thought, 'Oh my God, I'd love to meet Cher, just to meet her!' And so I met her, I played her some songs, and I played her 'The Greatest Thing,' and she loved it. She said, 'This is my song,' I said, 'Yes, it's your song.' " - RedOne in 2011 for MTV
RedOne then sent Gaga a text message to let her know that the song was being recorded by Cher and she was ecstatic about it. On Twitter, fans asked Cher if she was going to be dueting with Gaga, Cher replied she was not, but she would like to.
On September 19, 2011, Cher made reference to the song on Twitter after seeing her son Chaz Bono dance on "Dancing With the Stars": "WOW ! HOW GREAT WAS MY SON"THE GREATEST, THING GREATEST THING, GREATESTTHING NO MATTER WHAT !WHAT! WHAT!" HES A WINNER ! I Was So Nervous"
On September 26, 2011, it was revealed via an article by MTV that Cher's vocals for the final album version were cut first but then Lady Gaga wanted to appear on the remix but RedOne told her that she should appear on the original and Gaga agreed.
- "I cut the vocals with Cher first, and I was in Madrid and got a text from Gaga saying, 'I'm thinking about jumping on the song in the remix,' " he recalled. "I was like, 'No, you should jump on the original! Make it a duet.' She said, 'Oh yes, OK, absolutely,' and then I spoke to Cher, and it became a party."
- "Everybody loved it," he added. "Gaga on it, Cher, two big icons, [they are] part of music history. So it happened. I'm very happy to be a part of this." - RedOne in 2011 for MTV
Gaga later replied to Cher talking about the possibility of doing a duet in a remix of the song "for the gays". Cher later expressed her excitement for Gaga to put her vocals into her version of the song.
- "Cher heard the song and loved it and wanted to do it together. And I said, 'Fuck yeah, it's Cher!' " - Gaga in 2011 for MTV
Cher's version with Gaga as duet was planned to be released in September of 2011. The song was then replaced to be the 2nd single due to delay in the production. For an interview for 20/20, Cher stated that "there is a track with Lady Gaga, but it’s very on the line right now…she may not want to be on album." On May 13, 2013, Cher explained to a fan what she meant by saying that Gaga may not be on the song: "It’s a great disappointment for me. Put vocals on forever ago, but the track needed to be RedOne & mixed. But before it was finished she decided she didn’t like it, & that’s that. She did a great job, but she didn’t like it so, it’s good, but only seventeen people will hear it." On June 10, 2013, Cher tweeted about the song saying: "You think you’ve waited? It’s done & [Gaga] doesn’t like it, or want it to come out. She’s an artist, it’s up to her. I'm disappointed too." Gaga revealed to fans earlier in 2012 that she didn't like the way they edited her vocals on the song and thus, she doesn't want her vocals to be included.
On June 11, a fan asked Cher if she could release the song without the duet and she replied: "Could be, but it's a great duet! I redid my vocals, always hated it & loved Hers! Now I like mine too! RedOne was to redo the track, But he blew it off. Have singers who like song, but not production, it's old. Red’s contract says no one is allowed to touch the track & he’s MIA."
Lady Gaga's version
Cher & Lady Gaga's version
- Sony/ATV Songs LLC / House of Gaga Publishing LLC (BMI)
- Sony/ATV Songs LLC / Songs of RedOne LLC (BMI)
- BMI | Repertoire Search
- Cher talking about dueting with Gaga and "The Greatest Thing"
- Cher confirming it is not a duet, and RedOne and Gaga have given her the song
- Gaga replying to Cher about a duet
- Cher expressing excitement over Gaga's vocals
- Cher referring to song after her son's performance on Dancing With the Stars