My Heart Is Failing Me
by Riff

Album: Riff (1991)
Charted: 25
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Songfacts®:

  • In the spring of 1991, not long before Boyz II Men took over the genre, the R&B vocal group Riff came on the scene with "My Heart Is Failing Me," a lovelorn song where they just can't get over a breakup. They're so distraught, if feels like they're dying inside.

    The vocals are front and center, but backed with a light new jack swing beat, which was big at the time. There's also a mild guitar solo, which you don't hear in many songs of this ilk.
  • This was written by the team of Albert Hammond and Holly Knight, who had written a few tunes for Tina Turner, including "Ask Me How I Feel" and "Be Tender with Me Baby." They were both pop songwriters, not R&B specialists; Hammond co-wrote the Starship hit "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" and Knight worked on Pat Benatar's "Love Is A Battlefield."

    Knight had a thing for heart failure songs; she did a song with Daryl Hall called "Heart Don't Fail Me Now," and with her band Device she recorded "Hanging On A Heart Attack." Regarding the lyrical imagery, she told Songfacts: "Your heart gets weak, you know. Everything with matters of the heart, it hurts. It actually physically hurts and tingles when it comes to matters of love when things aren't working out the way you want."
  • Riff are the guys in the 1989 movie Lean On Me who sing the school song to principal Joe Clark (played by Morgan Freeman) in the bathroom at Eastside High School. They landed a deal with SBK Records and released "My Heart Is Failing Me" in 1991 as their first single. The song went to #25 US and made an impact on R&B and Contemporary Hits radio stations, but it proved to be their high point. Their next single, "If You're Serious," topped out at #88, and in 1992 they released "White Men Can't Jump," the theme song to the movie starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. That song reached #90 and was their last chart appearance. They also showed up on the song "I Love You" by SBK labelmate Vanilla Ice.

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