This was written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe during sessions for their first album, Please, in 1986. The duo was going to offer it to Madonna or Hi-NRG singer Hazell Dean, but they eventually decided to record it themselves. It was originally called "Heartbeat," but the title was altered because Culture Club's Jon Moss had just started a band called Heartbeat UK. Chris Lowe was unenthuastic about the song's potential, so Neil Tennant reworked the chord structure with producer Andy Richards and it landed on Pet Shop Boys' second album, Actually.
The song is, unusually for a Pet Shop Boys number, a straightforward love song, with the "heartbeat" a double meaning: It's both the beat of the heart and the beat of the music.
"It's actually pretty corny, to be honest, but I think the words are quite sweet and sincere," Neil Tennant said.
According to Neil Tennant, the 1985 Phyllis Nelson song "I Like You," which was a #1 Dance hit in America, was an inspiration for this song. "I Like You" was produced by Shep Pettibone, who did a remix of "Heart" for Pet Shop Boys.
The first version of this song was produced by Andy Richards and features a syn drum and guitar by J.J. Belle. Julian Mendolsohn was brought in to mix the song for the album. According to the band, he took out the guitar and mistakenly erased a bit of the track, which is why, the chopped "beat beat beat" vocal comes in at the beginning.
A new mix of the song was released as the fourth (and final) single from the Actually album in March 1988. It rose to #1 in the UK, giving the group their fourth chart-topper in that territory. The song also went to #1 in Switzerland and Germany.
The video, directed by Jack Gold and shot in Yugoslavia, retells the story of Dracula and features Ian McKellen as Dracula. It was based on the 1922 film Nosferatu.
Pet Shop Boys didn't tour until 1989, so music videos were very important to the group at this stage.