Written and produced by Motown songwriting and producing team Holland–Dozier–Holland, it was notable for breaking the first string of five consecutive number-one pop singles in the United States, peaking at number 11 from August 29, 1965 through September 4, 1965 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.
Sure that they had finally found a successful formula, Berry Gordy had Holland–Dozier–Holland create a song similar to several of their earlier hit singles. As expected, "Nothing but Heartaches" had a similar sound to "Stop! In the Name of Love" and "Back in My Arms Again." Gordy felt confident that the song would become their sixth consecutive number-one hit.
Response to "Nothing but Heartaches" was less of a success as Gordy predicted, as it peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100. The song's more modest top 20 charting prompted Gordy to circulate a memo around the Motown offices:
We will release nothing less than Top Ten product on any artist; and because the Supremes' world-wide acceptance is greater than the other artists, on them we will only release number-one records.