Originally intended as a "throwaway" track written to complete the album, the song became Sheik's breakout hit, entering the top 20 of the U.S. Billboard charts, peaking at #16, and remaining on the chart for 55 weeks. "Barely Breathing" also hit #19 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart. At the time, it was the fourth–longest–running single in the Hot 100. It ranked #88 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s, and #8 on their 40 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 90s list.
Additionally, "Barely Breathing" earned Sheik a BMI Award for Most Played Song of the Year in 1997 and a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1998.
The song was covered in a 2012 episode of the American television series, Glee.