Achy Breaky Heart
Billy Ray Cyrus
Writer(s): Don Von Tress (see lyrics here)
Released: March 23, 1992
First Charted: April 4, 1992
Peak: 4 US, 4 CB, 27 RR, 23 AC, 15 CW, 3 UK, 4 CN, 17 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.41 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 110.33 video, 102.37 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Don Von Tress wrote a song called “Don’t Tell My Heart” in 1990. The Oak Ridge Boys considered recording it, but lead singer Duane Allen didn’t like the words “achy breaky.” WK It was recorded in 1991 by the Marcy Brothers, but failed to chart. It took off when Billy Ray Cyrus recorded it in 1992 as “Achy Breaky Heart.” It was a crossover hit in the United States, peaking at #1 on the country charts and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the first country song since Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton’s 1983 hit “Islands in the Stream” to achieve platinum status. WK The song propelled Cyrus’ album, Some Gave All to 17 weeks atop the Billboard album chart and nine million in sales.
Thanks to its novelty status, the song has been targeted by Blender and VH1 as one of the worst songs of all time, although VH1 also ranked at as one of the 100 greatest songs of the 1990s. WK Country singer Travis Tritt touched off controversy when he called the song “frivolous” and argued it turned country music into “an ass-wiggling contest.” TC Cyrus has defended the song, saying, “It felt like a good time for a happy song. Something simple that everyone could sing and yes, even dance to. Take your mind off all the heavy stuff for 3 minutes and 27 seconds!” TC
Audiences for “old country” artists such as Willie Nelson and George Strait were waning, but the slicker production techniques and pop melodies of “new country” revived interest in country music amongst younger listeners. “Achy Breaky Heart” was considered a pivotal song in ushering in that new era. Country purists hated it, but it led the way for success for artists such as Faith Hill and Shania Twain. SF
The video was filmed during a live performance at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, Kentucky. WK “The song’s insistent beat and simple two-chord structure lent themselves to line dancing, which featured heavily in the video and exploded into a crazy that swept country dance halls across the U.S. and the world.” TC
First posted 11/3/2021; last updated 10/22/2022.