It became the biggest mainstream hit of Pop's career, as he reached the US Top 40 for the first and only time. "I've written one good pop song: 'Candy'," he noted. "It's a very decent, proper pop song, but that's as far as that went."
The initial narrator is a man (Pop) who grieves a lost love. Following the first chorus, the perspective of the woman (Pierson) is heard. She expresses, unbeknownst to the male, that she misses him too. According to Pop, the lyrics refer to a teenage girlfriend, Betsy:
I was looking back on my relationship with her, and I thought 'Let's be fair. Let the girl have her say.' I wanted a girl who would sing with a small-town voice, and Kate has a little twang in her voice that sounds slightly rural and naive.
Another interpretation of the song is that the male protagonist sings to a prostitute, who gave him "love for free," while the woman explains that she has grown tired of the men "down on the street", and that she just wants love, not games.
In the United States, "Candy" debuted on November 24, 1990 at number 90 on the Billboard Hot 100. It peaked at number 28 in February 1991 and is Pop's only single to appear on the chart. The song was a top five modern rock hit, remaining on the Modern Rock Tracks chart for 17 weeks. It also reached the top 30 of the Album Rock Tracks chart. Elsewhere, the single reached the top 10 in the Netherlands and Australia, peaking at numbers seven and nine, respectively. However, it was not as commercially successful in the United Kingdom, peaking at number 67.
In 2008, the song was ranked number seven in Spinner.com's list of the 10 best duets ever, and number 14 in Retrocrush's list of the 25 greatest duets of all time.
The maxi-CD contains a comic book illustrated by German graphic artist Schwarwel, titled "Tales of the Killer Barbies," in which Bela appears as Count Bela ("Der Graf" or in English, "The Count," a nickname for Bela).
The band's Sin Is In album does not include the single version of the song; however, it does contain a John Fryer remix as well as the music video for "Candy."
Silvia finds a comic book from a stand, where Bela as Count Bela sings to her. She gets hooked on it and sits down to read it. However, her band mates follow her and she has to flee to read the comic book in peace. Later, Count Bela sings in the studio with her. Silvia is also seen as a comic book character.
Heavy metal artist, the Impaler (the lead singer of the S&M band, N2 submission), with singer Cindi St. Germain, recorded a spoken word version of the song for the 1998 tribute album, Pop O.D.: The Songs of Iggy Pop.
Polish rock band Hey recorded a live version of the song for their album MTV Unplugged. It was performed by band's female singer Kasia Nosowska and Jacek "Budyń" Szymkiewicz from band Pogodno on male vocals.
Czech punk band Tři sestry made cover named "Venda" with their own Czech lyrics. This song is part of 1999 album "Soubor kreténů".
Spanish Rock singer Loquillo has also recorded a cover of "Candy" titled "Candy baby". It's included in Loquillo's Compilation album "Rock n' roll star: 30 años" and Kate Pierson's part was sung by Aurora Beltrán, the Tahúres Zurdos' vocalist.