Ellie Goulding wrote this song specifically for the soundtrack of the movie Divergent. Goulding also lent three of her Halcyon tracks to the film as well as providing the "musical voice" for the film's lead character, Tris Prior.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Divergent director Neil Burger explained Goulding's new song: "In the last scene of the movie, Tris has just experienced multiple tragedies, even as she triumphs (for the moment) over her enemies," he said. "Ellie wrote 'Beating Heart' and we knew it'd be perfect for the end of the movie. Her lyrics almost merge with Tris' voice-over and her music lets the movie soar above the tragedy. The sadness is still there but so is the transcendence. It's a fantastic song."
Goulding explained the song's meaning to MTV News: "'Beating Heart' is about being away from someone or knowing that you're always going to have to be apart from someone that you really love," she said. "And it's painful, but it's hopeful because there's always a chance that they'll collide again like two people collide. Like the universe will bring them back together."
"I think the song is basically that," she added. "Sort of relying on the fact that if you're meant to be drawn back together you will be."
British singer-songwriter Joe Janiak wrote the original version of this song on a banjo in 2012. It was inspired by dropping off his American girlfriend at London airport. Goulding then came across the tune and reworked some of the lyrics to make it about being away touring and not being able to spend enough time with someone.
Although Goulding doesn't specify the partner that the track is connected to, she admitted to Billboard magazine that it, "did remind me of someone, recently." She added: "It's just such a sad song, and so relevant to what I do — not being able to have a physical closeness with someone, because you're just never around."