London-born singer-songwriter Alex Clare grew up listening to his father's Jazz records. He took up the trumpet and drums as a youngster, but as he grew older he graduated to guitar-based songwriting, playing open-mike nights with original material. Clare dated Amy Winehouse for a year during these early days, after meeting her during a performance at The Hawley Arms in Camden, North London. A demo earned him a deal with the Island label in the U.K. His debut album, The Lateness Of The Hour, which was produced by M.I.A collaborators Diplo and Switch, was released in July 2011.
"Too Close" was released as the second single from the album. Clare explained in publicity materials that, "It's about a friend I had of the opposite sex. It's no longer a friendship…"
The song became Clare's first U.S. Hot 100 hit after featuring in a Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 commercial.
The song was inspired by a relationship with a close friend that turned romantic. "One thing led to another, but it didn't really work out and that felt too close," Clare told Billboard magazine.
The song's success marked a turnaround in Clare's fortunes. Prior to it entering the singles chart, Clare had been forced to take a job as an estate agent after being dropped by his record label.
The artwork for the single features a bear and wolf ready to attack each other. Clare explained to MTV News: "I'm kind of into the minimal side of art on that end. I kind of thought, look, you want this song to depict conflict, you don't want to go with the kind of day-glo, electronic feel. You want to go with something that had some thought and love go into it."
Several Major League Baseball teams have used this song for player entrances. They include the Cincinnati Reds (for Zack Cozart's entrance) and the Washington Nationals (for Danny Espinosa's entrance).
This topped the German singles chart, spending three weeks at the peak position.
The song appears in the end credits of the film Taken 2.