Heartbreak Beat

Album: Midnight to Midnight (1986)
Charted: 79 26
Play Video


  • Although he was born in the UK, the Furs' frontman Richard Butler considers himself a bona-fide New Yorker and often finds inspiration from the Big Apple. With the Midnight to Midnight album, he hoped to capture the "very urban, very nighttime" feeling of the city after dark. He told Winner magazine in 1986: "It's my interpretation of being in a place. There's a song called 'Heartbreak Beat,' and it's about that feeling when you walk through Washington Square Park and you've got all the boxes going and it sounds like this huge phase-shifter. New York has definitely affected the feel of the songs. I very much pick up on what's around me, steal things, phrases, the feeling of being out at night in New York."

    Butler's co-writers on the song were the group's guitarist John Ashton and bass player Tim Butler (Richard's brother).
  • This was the biggest US hit for The Psychedelic Furs, and their only Top 40 entry in that country. Early in 1986, their song "Pretty In Pink" was revived when it was used in the movie of the same name starring Molly Ringwald (the film was titled after the song), giving them a big bump in America.

    Looking to expand their fanbase, the group created more accessible songs for their next album, Midnight to Midnight. "Heartbreak Beat," deemed the most radio-friendly track, was released as a single in the UK in October 1986, but wasn't issued in America until March 1987. It peaked at #26 in May, and in July the band started their tour of the US. "Heartbreak Beat" ended up being their last Hot 100 entry, although dedicated fans stuck with them for two more albums, Book of Days (1989) and World Outside (1991).
  • A heartbreak beat is an emotional condition, not a medical one, but Richard Butler suffered from something similar after the band set out on tour to promote the Midnight to Midnight album. Butler wasn't pleased with the album ("there's nothing lyrically I'm proud of on it at all," he declared), and hated performing songs from it. As the tour progressed, the band found themselves dropping new material and inserting older songs in their place. It all was very stressful for Butler, who at one point had an EKG heart scan to find out if there was something wrong. He underwent a program to manage his stress, but had to be talked into staying with the band, since he was so disillusioned.

    He agreed to make another album, but insisted on returning to their early form. The resulting Book Of Days had little commercial appeal, but Butler was proud of it.
  • Glee made the most out of the lyrics, "But a kiss ain't enough, and the world don't stop," when the song was used as a soundtrack to Rachel and Finn's kiss on the season one episode "The Rhodes Not Taken."

Comments: 1

  • Dave Decker from IndianaWas not a huge fan of the furs firt time round. I was too into being cool. But there stuff holds up almost 40 years down the pike. "Heartbreak" nails electronic music
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Motley Crue

Motley CrueFact or Fiction

Was Dr. Feelgood a dentist? Did the "Crüecifixion" really happen?

Art Alexakis of Everclear

Art Alexakis of EverclearSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer of Everclear, Art is also their primary songwriter.

Dave Alvin - "4th Of July"

Dave Alvin - "4th Of July"They're Playing My Song

When Dave recorded the first version of the song with his group the Blasters, producer Nick Lowe gave him some life-changing advice.

Taylor Dayne

Taylor DayneSongwriter Interviews

Taylor talks about "The Machine" - the hits, the videos and Clive Davis.

Butch Vig

Butch VigSongwriter Interviews

The Garbage drummer/songwriter produced the Nirvana album Nevermind, and Smashing Pumpkins' Gish and Siamese Dream.

Jimmy Jam

Jimmy JamSongwriter Interviews

The powerhouse producer behind Janet Jackson's hits talks about his Boyz II Men ballads and regrouping The Time.