With an addictive hook, goofy chorus, and pumping rhythms, it’s no wonder that Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” from his debut album Some Gave All stole the hearts of many in 1992. But that was not all. The massive reaction towards the song gave it so much success fueling the sales of the album itself and thrusting Cyrus’ career into legendary status.
Twenty-nine years later, 16 studio albums, 53 singles, 32 charting songs, this album remains to be his best-selling album with over 20 million copies sold and arguably the best in his entire catalog.
The Craze of 1992: “Achy Breaky Heart”
On May 19, 1992, Billy Ray Cyrus dropped his debut album Some Gave All under Mercury Records and produced four hit singles. The first was his breakout single titled “Achy Breaky Heart,” which topped the Hot Country Songs charts for five weeks and also peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also achieved phenomenal success in other countries, especially Australia, where it earned first-ever triple Platinum status and also became the country’s best-selling single in the same year.
And the craze for this song did not stop at the charts.
Thanks to the music video of “Achy Breaky Heart,” line dancing trended and exploded into the mainstream. Up until now, there are still a lot of line dancing tutorials stepping into the rhythm of the song! The song also earned Grammy award nominations, including Record of the Year and Best Country Vocal Performance, Male. And in the same year, Cyrus also earned himself a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.
“Achy Breaky Heart” was a re-record of Marcy Brothers’ “Don’t Tell My Heart” included in their 1991 self-titled album.
Rewriting Country Record: ‘Some Gave All’
Following his breakout single were three other hits, including “Could’ve Been Me,” “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore,” and “Wher’m I Gonna Live,” which peaked on the country charts at #2, #6, and #23 respectively.
And then came a long list of the album’s impressive achievements.
It became the first-ever country debut album to enter and hit number one on the pop charts. The record also climbed to the top on the Billboard 200 album chart, and for 17 weeks, Some Gave All held that spot – unbroken, uncatchable, and until now, no artist has achieved the same for their first release. It was finally dethroned in October by another country phenomenon, Garth Brooks’ The Chase.
Nevertheless, the sales continued to boom, and by November, it set a record in country music history as the first debut album to ship five million units across the US. And just two months later in January 1993, it broke its own record hitting six million shipments. Three years later, the album went on to record a total of nine million shipments. Decades later, the worldwide sales of Some Gave All now stand at around 20 million units sold.
The album spent a total of 43 weeks in the Top 10, which was only topped by Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ the Wind and 97 weeks in the entire chart. It has also been certified by 9x multi-Platinum by the RIAA.
The top-ranking album of 1992 is also the best-selling debut album by any solo male artist in the entire chart history, proving that Billy Ray Cyrus is one of the best and most successful artists of his time.
The Critics’ Review
Despite being a record-writing album, Some Gave All received a few negative reviews. For one, many saw this album as proof of how far away country music has strayed from its roots. And the reviews were especially harsh coming from country music traditionalists. With the rock and roll hits and the commercial marketing that rivaled that of major pop stars, the album has been deemed a success crafted through marketing rather than talent. And more than a decade after its release, Q magazine listed it as one of the 50 worst albums ever, ranking at 33.
But alongside amazing audience reaction, there was also a few positive feedbacks. Robert Christgau, who reviewed for The Village Voice, praised the ‘nice macho self-mockery’ that Cyrus showcased in “Achy Breaky Heart,” “Wher’m I Gonna Live?” and “I’m So Miserable.” He also noted that with time, Cyrus could become the 21st version of one of country music’s legendary icon Waylon Jennings.
Billy Ray Cyrus Now
Billy Ray Cyrus, unfortunately, did not live up to the expectations of his smashing debut, receiving flops after flops. But in 2019, he managed to get back on his feet again as a musician (he delved into acting) with his remix of Lil Nas X’s viral hit “Old Town Road.” The song achieved a record-breaking 19 consecutive weeks on the chart and got Cyrus back into the Grammy since 1994, winning Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video.
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