Heart Break

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This article is about the album by New Edition. For other uses, see Heartbreak.
Heart Break
Studio album by New Edition
Released June 20, 1988
Recorded 1987–1988
Genre New jack swing, R&B[1]
Length 51:41
Label MCA
Producer Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, New Edition, Jellybean Johnson
New Edition chronology
Under the Blue Moon
Heart Break
Home Again

Heart Break is the fifth studio album by American R&B quintet New Edition, released June 20, 1988 by MCA Records. It is the first album to return the Boston-reared band as a quintet after the public exit of original member Bobby Brown, and the first album to feature Johnny Gill as member of the group. The album was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).


By 1987, New Edition was a group in transition. The band members were aging out of their teens into their twenties, and sought for their image and sound to reflect their coming of age. In addition to employing the famed production team of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (who just the year before had masterminded Janet Jackson’s multi-platinum Control album) to help steer their music into a new direction, they also recruited Washington, D.C.-based baritone/tenor Johnny Gill—who, in 1984, had scored a hit with R&B singer Stacy Lattisaw on "A Perfect Combination".[2] The New Edition members (including Bobby Brown) had actually known Gill since they released their hit "Candy Girl" in 1983 and Gill released his R&B Top 30 hit "Super Love" that same year. They had joked that they would let him in the group if he could improve his dancing skills.[3][4] Prompting Gill’s entrance into the group was when lead singer Ralph Tresvant considered recording a solo album. To circumvent New Edition being left without a lead singer, Michael Bivins suggested bringing in 20-year-old Gill to replace him. Gill accepted the invitation, joining the group in the spring of 1987. Tresvant, however, wasn’t ready to leave— resulting in New Edition, inadvertently, becoming a quintet again as they began production on their fifth album, Heart Break.[5]

While most of Heart Break features principal vocals by Tresvant, with occasional solos by Ricky Bell, Gill’s voice is significantly displayed as the secondary lead throughout the album. Gill took the lead on the track “Boys to Men”- a song in which the singer initially resisted and resented recording, feeling it was too juvenile. "Boys To Men" became one of the album's most eminent numbers, despite it never being officially released as a single.[6] Another standout album track was “Competition,” a song written by Tresvant that addresses the disappointment felt over the departure of Bobby Brown two years earlier.

One song in particular, "Where It All Started", was a thinly veiled jab at New Kids on the Block.[5] The group was discovered by their former producer Maurice Starr as a direct response to New Edition severing ties with him on less than amicable terms.[7] In an ironic twist, Jam & Lewis- the writers and producers behind the song- would also work with New Kids on the Block's lead singer Jordan Knight on his 1999 self-titled debut a little over a decade later. The two groups would later team up for a duet on the latter's 2008 reunion album The Block.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[8]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[9]
Richmond Times-Dispatch (favorable)[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[11]
Washington Post (favorable)[12]

Commercial performance[edit]

Heart Break peaked at numbers twelve and three on the US Billboard 200 and R&B Albums Chart respectively, selling 500,000 copies by August 19, 1988.[13] On September 28, 1988, it was certified platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), following sales in excess of 1 million copies in the United States.[13] After sales of 2 million, it earned double platinum certification from the RIAA in July 1994.[13] The album has also earned international sales of four million copies. Heart Break spun off five hit singles: "If It Isn't Love", "You're Not My Kind of Girl", "Can You Stand the Rain", "Crucial", and "N.E. Heart Break".


Many have called this particular album the most seminal New Edition album. Four fans from Philadelphia in particular were inspired by one of the songs on the album. Ironically, "Boys to Men", the song that Johnny Gill hated recording, ended up becoming the name of the group who changed their name to Boyz II Men.[6] The group would end up being managed and mentored by Michael Bivins. Boyz II Men names New Edition as one of their most influential bands. The album also saw a successful concert tour for the group as well. Through 1988 and 1989, New Edition toured all over the world with opening acts, ex-New Edition member Bobby Brown (who had also found big time success with his breakthrough album, Don't Be Cruel) and Al B. Sure!.[5]

R&B group Jagged Edge named their sophomore album J.E. Heartbreak as a tribute to Heart Break.[14]

Track listing[edit]

  • All songs written by James Harris III & Terry Lewis, execept where noted.[15]
  1. "Introduction" (1:04)
  2. "That's the Way We're Livin'" (Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant) (4:02)
  3. "Where It All Started" (3:31)
  4. "If It Isn't Love" (5:09)
  5. "Skit #1" ( :35)
  6. "N.E. Heart Break" (5:44)
  7. "Crucial" (Garry Johnson, Lisa Keith) (4:33)
  8. "Skit #2" ( :44)
  9. "You're Not My Kind of Girl" (4:01)
  10. "Superlady" (Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant) (5:01)
  11. "Can You Stand the Rain" (4:57)
  12. "Competition" (Ralph Tresvant) (4:28)
  13. "Skit #3" ( :38)
  14. "I'm Comin' Home" (5:06)
  15. "Boys to Men" (4:10)



Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
New Zealand Albums Chart[16] 50
US Billboard 200[17] 12
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[18] 3
Chart (2017) Peak
US Billboard 200 1
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 37
US Billboard Top R&B Albums 13
US Billboard Top Catalog Albums 11


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[19] 1× Diamond 10,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ McCall, Tris (February 21, 2012). "On a sad weekend, Bobby Brown and New Edition light up NJPAC". The Star-Ledger. Newark. Archived from the original on March 16, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ Hogan, Ed. ""Where Do We Go From Here" - song review". allmusic.com. Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  3. ^ "Johnny Gill". Angelfire.com. 1966-05-22. Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ a b c Adams, Dart. "Where It All Started: 25th Anniversary Retrospective Of Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel" & New Edition's "Heart Break"". theurbandaily.com. The Urban Daily. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  6. ^ a b Williams, Chris. "25 Years Later: Jimmy Jam on New Edition's Best Ever". raprehab.com. Rap Rehab. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  7. ^ Givens, Ron. "Starr Maker". ew.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2015-01-08. 
  8. ^ Lytle, Craig. Review: Heart Break. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-10-17.
  9. ^ Sims, Tammy. "Review: Heart Break". Los Angeles Times: 90. August 14, 1988. Archived from the original on 2009-10-17.
  10. ^ Crutchfield, Lisa. "Review: Heart Break". Richmond Times-Dispatch: 19. November 14, 1988.
  11. ^ Hoard, Christian. "Review: Heart Break". The Rolling Stone Album Guide: 580. November 2, 2004.
  12. ^ Brown, Joe. "Review: Heart Break". The Washington Post: n.23. November 4, 1988.
  13. ^ a b c Gold & Platinum: Searchable Database Archived June 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.. Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Retrieved on 2009-10-18.
  14. ^ "Billboard". google.com. 
  15. ^ New Edition - Heart Break. MCA Records. MCA-42207
  16. ^ "New Zealand Albums Chart - October 2, 1988". Archived from the original on 2016-01-27. 
  17. ^ "Billboard 200 - October 29, 1988". 
  18. ^ "Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums - October 29, 1988". 
  19. ^ "American album certifications – New Edition – Heart Break". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]