This is the title track of Tom Odell's fourth album. The singer penned the majority of the songs for Monsters while living in Los Angeles, a period that coincided with panic attacks and chronic anxiety.
Odell wrote this song when he finally confronted the mental health issues that had dogged him for so long. He turned around, faced "the monster," and sang about it. "It was amazingly liberating," Odell testified to Apple Music. "It was the moment that I started getting better to some extent. I started walking towards that, at least."
When Odell first started writing the song, he was thinking about the monster being Donald Trump. Then he realized he was thinking about his anxiety and needed to address it. He told The Sun: "It was hugely invigorating because I was finally accepting to myself that I needed to pay attention to the way I was feeling rather than just carry on."
Odell recorded two versions. "Monster v2" is the more polished rendition; "Monster v1" is rawer and more acoustic. The singer's record label had planned on releasing "Monster v2" as a single on March 12, 2021 but the night it was meant to be uploaded Odell asked them to change to "Monster v1." He explained: "I wrote this song, 'Monster,' about trying to overcome my struggles with those mental health problems. This first version is the song in its purest form, which I wanted you all to hear first, as the lyrics mean so much to me." Odell included both versions on the Monsters album.
Tom Odell wrote the song in Los Angeles with Rick Nowels, Laurie Blundell, and Courtney Marie Andrews. When he returned home to England with this track and the rest of the album written, he hooked up again with Laurie Blundell and also with producer Miles James. They helped him polish this song and the other tracks for the record.
By the time Odell completed the record, he had about 40 different titles to choose from. He told HMV
he picked Monsters
because it "felt like the best summation of the album."
Odell said after putting together all the tracks he "realized all the songs were me trying to understand the elements that caused my anxiety."
After Odell asked his fans to send him clips of what the word "monster" meant to them, he thought he would make a 30-second video for Instagram out of them, but the first time he and his team put all the clips together he found their vulnerability so moving it reduced him to tears, so Odell scrapped the other music video he'd made for the song and ended up going with the collection of fans' clips as the main music video for "Monster."