This song was written by 1D's Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson with with Julian Bunetta, Jesse Shatkin, Jacob Kasher, John Ryan and MoZella. It includes lyrics about being "someone to write breakup songs about," and is widely thought to have been inspired by Taylor Swift, whom Harry dated from 2012 to 2013 and is renowned for penning tunes about her exes.
Harry refused to elaborate, telling People magazine: "I think people interpret songs in different ways. I'm never going to tell someone what a song's about because I feel like it's up to them."
However, Louis was slightly more forthcoming, admitting Harry's romance with Taylor may have seeped through into their lyrics. "I think everybody draws from personal experiences, so of course to a degree I'm sure that influenced some of it," he said. "Down to specifics to who that song is exactly about, that's fan's interpretation, I suppose."
Several of Swift's 1989
tracks, including "Out Of The Woods
" and "I Wish You Would
" were believed to be written about their romance. "I Wish You Would" is thought to be about Harry pining for her after their split in January 2013 following three months together. It starts with the lines: "It's 2 am, in your car. Windows down, past my street the memories start."
"Perfect" features the lines: If you like when I'm driving with the windows down
If you like going places we can't even pronounce
If you like to do whatever you've been dreaming about
Baby you're perfect
Musically, the track also bears similarities to "Style." After the song premiered on Nick Grimshaw's BBC Radio 1 morning show on October 16, 2015, fans quickly pointed out the resemblance between the two songs' choruses.
Veteran director Sophie Muller, known for her work with numerous artists including Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys, Pink, helmed the black-and-white video. The clip features the band hanging out in their New York City hotel room before a rooftop performance. Presumably, it was inspired by the song's, "If you like causing trouble in hotel rooms" lyric.
Coup De Main magazine asked the guys if it bothers them when people think they are role models but are in reality engaging in some rock and roll stuff on tour? Harry said they don't engage in such behavior as they do have their younger fans in mind : "We're honored, I would say, more than that, that anyone would look at you in that way," he said. "Not all of our fans are young, but we have to acknowledge that there are some that are young, so I think it's naïve to not acknowledge the responsibility of having a lot of younger people viewing what you're doing. I think it's important to keep that in mind, you know what I mean?"
"Perfect" debuted at #10 on the Hot 100, marking One Direction's fifth Top 10 start, which is one more than The Beatles' four. Though this meant 1D had racked up the most Top 10 debuts among groups, they have a long way to go to catch up with Taylor Swift's overall record. The pop princess had achieved 12 Top 10 starts by the time the 1D boys had notched their fifth.
When One Direction appeared on The London Session, James Corden quoted some lyrics from this song and said to Styles: "I don't want to have any bad blood about this. And if this is a problem, we don't have to talk about it. We can just shake it off. Who's this song about?"
Styles laughed it off, still refusing to answer the question directly.
Harry Styles discussed this song's lyrical content in a Vevo interview. "It's cool because it's obviously a love song but it's not that romantic," he said. "It's not like a Romeo-Juliet type 'I want to be with you forever, I wanna marry you, I wanna have kids with you.' It's not that kind of thing. It's more like, 'I'm not perfect, I really like you and if you wanna have fun this could be great' type thing. It's not really thinking anything through, it's like 'do you wanna do a bunch of fun stuff with me?' type thing. It's a different approach to a love song but I think that's what makes it quite cool."