Gary Barlow told The Sun November 21, 2008: "The song is downbeat and about a best man at a wedding I went to about three years ago. He had just split up with his partner and got drunk. When he got up to make his speech he basically talked about himself for five minutes and how he'd ruined his life. Everyone was dying."
Barlow explained the album title to The Sun: "The album was called The Circus because the title visually connected the tour, the stadium sound and the big arms in the air. We're planning something extra-special. It made sense to call the album The Circus even though it's really the antithesis of the actual (title track) song."
Take That's album was released the same day as Britney Spears' Circus set came out. There was concern about both records sharing the same title. However Take That's manager told The Daily Record: "The boys have worked on this for months, like Britney, and we certainly won't be changing the title. When you work that far in advance, it's impossible to know what people will call albums. Erasure had an album Circus. The name is not copyrighted. I doubt there will be confusion. Fans will either ask for the new record by Take That or Britney Spears."
The first week sales of The Circus were 432,000 copies, the third-highest total in UK chart history, behind Oasis' Be Here Now (1997) with 663,000 copies and Coldplay's X&Y (2005) 464,000 copies.