|"Achy Breaky Heart"|
|Single by Billy Ray Cyrus|
|from the album Some Gave All|
|Released||March 23, 1992|
|Songwriter(s)||Don Von Tress|
|Billy Ray Cyrus singles chronology|
"Achy Breaky Heart" is a song written in 1990 by Don Von Tress. Originally published in a recording by The Marcy Brothers under the title "Don't Tell My Heart" in 1991, it was later recorded by Billy Ray Cyrus and released on his debut album Some Gave All in 1992. The song is Cyrus' debut single and signature song. It became the first single ever to achieve triple Platinum status in Australia and also 1992's best-selling single in the same country. In the United States, it became a crossover hit on pop and country radio, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the first country single to be certified Platinum since "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in 1983. The single topped in several countries, and after being featured on Top of the Pops in the United Kingdom, peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart. It was Cyrus' biggest hit single in the U.S. until he was featured on "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2019.
The music video for the song led to the explosion of the line dance into the mainstream. The song is considered by some as one of the worst songs of all time, featuring at number two in VH1 and Blender's list of the "50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever." However, it is recognized as part of a transitional period in country music where Cyrus brought renewed interest to a dying breed of music among younger listeners.
The song was initially to be recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys in the early 1990s, but the group decided against recording it after lead singer Duane Allen said that he did not like the words "achy breaky". It was then recorded in 1991 under the title "Don't Tell My Heart" by The Marcy Brothers, although their version changed some lyrics.
The song reached number 23 on CMT's 100 Greatest Videos in 2008, and number 2 on Blender magazine's 50 Worst Songs Ever. In 2002, Shelly Fabian from About.com ranked the song number 249 on the list of the Top 500 Country Music Songs. In 2007, the song was ranked at number 87 on Vh1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s. A review from Cash Box magazine was positive, stating that "The song is good, but it [sic] his performance that will keep you wired."
Two very similar versions of the video for the song exist. Directed by Marc Ball, it was filmed during a live performance at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, Kentucky. The version released to country stations begins with a shot of the theater and ends with an extended applause from the audience. The version released to MTV (which is the version found on Cyrus' YouTube account), begins with Cyrus exiting a limo, and the ending cheer from the audience is much shorter.
In the Hannah Montana episode "The Way We Almost Weren't", Billy Ray Cyrus's character Robby Stewart is seen in a dream sequence writing "Achy Breaky Heart" in a New Mexico cafe in 1987. He tries the words "itchy twitchy heart" and "herky jerky heart" but is unsatisfied. Jackson suggests he use the words "achy breaky", but Robby blows it off as "the dumbest thing I've ever heard". The series makes several different references to the song, for example: When Robby got a back injury in the Season 2 episode "I Want You To Want Me To Go To Florida", as he got the injury, he exclaimed "My achy breaky back!". The two-part Season 2 episode "Achy Jakey Heart" also was named in reference to the song. Robby also mentions the song in the Season 1 episode "Ooo, Ooo, Itchy Woman", when he chased a mouse into the piano and it started playing melodies, later asking the mouse: "Do you know Achy Breaky Heart?".
The song was parodied on a 1993 episode of Animaniacs during the Pinky and the Brain segment entitled "Bubba Bo Bob Brain", where it was parodied as "Empty Hollow Head", and was performed by a caricature of Billy Ray Cyrus named Billy Rae Cyprus. In 1994, Bill Nye the Science Guy parodied the song as "AC/DC Charge". In the Season 2 episode "Bones and Muscles", during the "Bonely is the Night" segment, the song was parodied as "Achy Breaky Arm" by Billy Ray Humerus (a parody of Billy Ray Cyrus). In 1992, Run C&W parodied the song as "Itchy Twitchy Spot" on their 1993 debut album Into the Twangy-First Century. In 1993, "Weird Al" Yankovic released a parody entitled "Achy Breaky Song", which is about a man's disdain for the song. Yankovic considered the song "mean-spirited" and donated its proceeds to charity.
In 2014, a rapper called Buck 22 released a hip-hop version of the song with Cyrus called "Achy Breaky 2", in which Cyrus reprised his role for the chorus. While Cyrus does not explicitly say the song is a parody, the lyrics and accompanying video clearly make several references to daughter Miley's bad-girl image at the time, with Billy Ray noting in a Rolling Stone article that he "[hopes] that she got to read the one critic who wrote that the video made her performance at the VMAs look like Sesame Street".
English football supporters regularly sing versions to the tune of the song with West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet version the most famous example. Supporters of the England national team also sing a song entitled "don't take me home" to the tune of the song.
Other cover versions
- Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song in 1992 on Chipmunks in Low Places. This version, which features speaking parts by Billy Ray himself, reached number 71 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, becoming their first chart entry on any Billboard chart in 32 years. In Australia, this version peaked at number 61 in early 1993.
- Kikki Danielsson covered the song with lyrics in Swedish by Mikael Wendt and Christer Lundh, as "En allra sista chans" on her 1993 album Jag ska aldrig lämna dig.
- Canadian singer Stef Carse made a french cover of the song for her debut album in 1993.
- Caballo Dorado (Latin Grammy winners for Best Grupero Album in 2009) covered the song in 1994 with lyrics in Spanish, as "No Rompas Más (Mi pobre corazón)". This version is commonly played and danced in many parties in Mexico, including birthday parties, graduation parties, wedding parties and Quince Años, along another song of the band titled Payaso de Rodeo (Rodeo Clown).
- The Kidsongs Kids covered the song in 1994 on their Country Sing-Along VHS. The lyric "He might blow up and kill this man" was changed to "I might break down and cry today", to make the song more child friendly.
- Boxcar Willie covered the song in 1996, as the title track of his final album "Achy Breaky Heart" before his death.
- Brazilian duo Chitãozinho & Xororó made a portuguese-language cover in 1998, called "Pura Emoçao" as part of their album "Na Aba do Meu Chapéu". This version later became part of the soundtrack for the brazilian telenovela Corpo Dourado.
- Coyote Dax made a cover of Caballo Dorado's translation in his 2001 album "Me Vale".
- William Hung included a cover on his 2005 album "Miracle: Happy Summer from William Hung".
The song is widely sung by football (Soccer) fans, especially in Europe, with altered lyrics (http://terracechants.me.uk/tune/chants/Achy+Breaky+Heart+by+Billy+Ray+Cyrus)
In popular culture
The song was featured in the closing credits of the 1992 film This Is My Life, and the 1993 Stephen King horror film Needful Things, where the character of Hugh Priest gets thrown out of "The Mellow Tiger" bar, after he kicks the chorus "My achy breaky heart" repeatedly against a jukebox, between a bartender, and a customer, who hates the song. It was also used in the 2006 film Crank, which was sung by Jarrett & Long. The song was referenced in The Simpsons fifth season episode "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" and “King-Size Homer” (season 7).
Billy Ray Cyrus version
Alvin and The Chipmunks version
Billy Ray Cyrus version
Alvin and the Chipmunks version
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Platinum||140,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||10,000*|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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- "The Way We Almost Weren't". Hannah Montana. Season 2. Episode 23. May 4, 2008.
- Yankovic, Alfred M. (May 1999). ""Ask Al" Q&As for May, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Archived from the original on 24 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
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- https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2016/02/07/gc-weve-found-the-origin-of-the-song-that-west-ham-and-arsenal-f/%7Ctitle=We've[permanent dead link] found the origin of the song West Ham and Arsenal fans are arguing about| access date=11 January 2019
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- "British single certifications – Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 22, 2020. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Achy Breaky Heart in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American single certifications – Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 22, 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.