This brooding duet with urban music singer-songwriter Jessie J was produced by Mark Taylor, who helmed Morrison's previous hook up with a female vocal partner, "Broken Strings."
Morrison's longstanding A&R man, Colin Barlow, suggested the collaboration with Jessie J. "Not that I was doubting Jessie's ability in any way," the singer said, "But I was worried whether she was the right character for the song. She got in the booth and did all this stuff that was amazing – she is a ridiculously good singer, so in tune she's like Autotune. I wanted to tap into the side of her character that is just a normal girl. I was like, you're a Ferrari, Jessie, you're in fifth gear – take it down to third. In the end it worked amazingly: she sang the chorus the way I should've sung it!"
Lyrically, the song was inspired by Morrison's strained relationship with his late father, Paul. He died in 2010 from heart failure after a protracted and painful battle with alcoholism. "It was basically me saying to him: 'I'm not going to put up with your s--t, but I want you to know you have got the strength to turn it around for yourself,' the singer said. "I didn't explain any of that to Jessie, though – I'd only just met her. We just focused on her delivering a s--t-hot vocal."
While detractors have accused this duet of being the convenient merger of two big pop brands, Morrison had purer reasons for collaborating with Jessie J on this song. He explained to The Guardian that he asked her to sing as the song is about his dad, and he felt the lyric so deeply that he couldn't face doing it on his own. "I'd never do a duet for [mercenary] reasons," he said. "With Up, with me alone on it, it would've been too personal, but with her it was more neutral."
Morrison told AOL Music he first came across Jessie several years before they collaborated on the song at a gig. He recalled: "She was warming up in the corridor. I've never heard a girl sing the way she did before. I went, 'Who the hell is that?' She came in and introduced herself and was very boisterous. I was still quite shy at that time. She was like, 'Hi, I'm Jessie J and we're going to be singing together one day.' And I was like, 'Oh, how's that?' And we did!"