Rufus Wainwright came up with this number after his friend Sarah Jessica Parker asked him to write an original song for a film she was producing. The starting point was Wainwright's daughter Viva telling him, "Daddy, I just want to unfollow the rules."
The film, titled Here and Now, stars Parker as aspiring jazz vocalist Vivienne. She performs "Unfollow the Rules" in the movie.
Wainwright explained the song's meaning to Mojo magazine: "A lot of the song came from physiotherapy: me hitting my 40s, the death of relatives, sifting through the wreckage to find the point of trauma before you can move forward. But it could equally be about the world, rather than myself."
This was the title track of Rufus Wainwright's ninth album of original material. It was his first record produced by Mitchell Froom, who has also worked with Crowded House and Elvis Costello.
The title has a longstanding literal meaning, but in the age of social media, "unfollow" also applies to Facebook. Wainwright liked how the phrase has adapted and felt that it reflected his current state. At the time, he was looking back at his life and trying to figure out what parts of it he could discard, or "unfollow."