The song was recorded with Joel Little in Los Angeles. The Australian producer is best known for being Lorde's collaborator on her debut album. Pure Heroine and for helming Khalid's "Young, Dumb and Broke" single.
Kahan told Billboard the song is about the "paralyzing fear" of being unable to free himself from a broken relationship "even if it's ultimately for the greater good." The singer understands the pain of breaking up and in "Hurt Somebody" he gives light to the "inner dialogue of trying to stomach the weight of that decision."
The solo version of the song was released on September 15, 2017, as the lead single from Noah Kahan's EP of the same name. A duet version with American singer-songwriter Julia Michaels was released on January 12, 2018.
The song became Kahan's first international hit peaking at #14 in Australia and also reaching the charts in several European countries.