I Can't Breathe (H.E.R. song)

"I Can't Breathe" is a song by H.E.R. released on June 19, 2020. It was written by H.E.R., D'Mile and Tiara Thomas and produced by D'Mile. It reached number 20 on Billboard's Hot R&B Songs.[1] The song won Song of the Year at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, serving as H.E.R.'s first ever win in this category.

"I Can't Breathe"
H.E.R. - I Can't Breathe.png
Single by H.E.R.
ReleasedJune 19, 2020
Producer(s)Dernst "D'Mile" Emile II
H.E.R. singles chronology
"I Can't Breathe"

Critical reception

Patricia Sanchez of Grimy Goods wrote: "While it may be hard for some to put into words the anger, frustration or pain felt after witnessing the death of George Floyd, yet another innocent, black individual lost to a deep and systemic issue in our society, H.E.R. finds the strength and wherewithal to transcend her anger into a meaningful and eloquent piece of protest art."[2] Elizabeth Aubrey of NME called the song "powerful",[3] while Billboard described the single as "moving".[4]


At the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, "I Can't Breathe" won the Song of the Year; it marks H.E.R's first win and second song to be nominated in this category after "Hard Place" (2020).[5]

Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2020 MTV Video Music Awards Video For Good Won [6]
2020 MTV Europe Music Awards Video for Good Won [7]
2020 Soul Train Music Awards The Ashford and Simpson Songwriter of the Year Award Won [8]
2021 Grammy Awards Song of the Year Won [9]


Chart (2020) Peak
US Hot R&B Songs (Billboard)[1] 20

Music video

The music video for H.E.R.'s "I Can't Breathe" was released on June 26, 2020, on YouTube, and directed by Shane Adams. As of 2021, the video has received over 1.9 million views on YouTube. The music video has the song accompanying footage of different marches around the world protesting police brutality and systemic racism. The video pays tribute to victims of police brutality by displaying their names throughout the music video, some of those include George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Philando Castile.[10]

The music video was nominated for and won both MTV's 2020 Video For Good Award[11] and MTV Europe's 2020 award of the same name.[12]

Live performances

H.E.R. performed "I Can't Breathe" live in 2020 as a part of iHeartRadio's Living Room Concert Series Presented by State Farm.[13] The artist also performed the song live for Apple Music on June 26, 2020 as a part of their Black Music Month.[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b "H.E.R." Billboard. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  2. ^ Sanchez, Patricia (June 24, 2020). "H.E.R. Shares Powerful New Protest Song "I Can't Breathe"". Grimy Goods. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  3. ^ "H.E.R. shares powerful new song, 'I Can't Breathe' in response to death of George Floyd". NME. June 11, 2020. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  4. ^ Kaufman, Gil (June 11, 2020). "H.E.R. Debuts Moving New Track 'I Can't Breathe'". Billboard. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  5. ^ "2021 GRAMMYs: Complete Nominees List". GRAMMY.com. November 24, 2020. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  6. ^ Ginsberg, Gab (July 30, 2020). "Ariana Grande & Lady Gaga Lead 2020 MTV VMA Nominations: See Full List". Billboard. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  7. ^ Szalai, Georg (October 6, 2020). "Lady Gaga Leads MTV EMAs Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  8. ^ Grein, Paul (November 11, 2020). "H.E.R. & Chris Brown Lead 2020 Soul Train Awards Nominations: Here's the Complete List". Billboard.
  9. ^ "2021 GRAMMYs: Complete Nominees List". GRAMMY.com. November 24, 2020. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  10. ^ H.E.R. - I Can't Breathe (Official Video), retrieved November 22, 2021
  11. ^ Hosken, Patrick. "2020 MTV VMA Winners: See The Full List". MTV News. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  12. ^ Panych, Sophia (November 8, 2020). "MTV Europe Music Awards 2020: See the Complete List of Winners". POPSUGAR Entertainment. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  13. ^ "Watch H.E.R. Perform New Song "I Can't Breathe"". Pitchfork. June 11, 2020. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  14. ^ H.E.R. – "Comfortable" and "I Can't Breathe" Live l Black Music Month | Apple Music, retrieved November 22, 2021