"Perfect" is a song by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran from his third studio album, ÷ (2017). After the album's release, it charted at number four on the UK Singles Chart. On 21 August 2017, Billboard announced that "Perfect" would be the fourth single from the album. The song was serviced to pop radio on 26 September 2017 as the third single from the album in the United States (fourth overall). The song eventually reached number one on the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 in December 2017. "Perfect" became the UK Christmas number-one song for 2017 and also peaked at number one in sixteen other countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand.
The second version of the single, titled "Perfect Duet", with American singer Beyoncé was released on 1 December 2017. Another duet with Italian singer Andrea Bocelli, titled "Perfect Symphony", was released on 15 December 2017. The song and its official music video received three nominations at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards.
"Perfect" was the first track Sheeran wrote for his third studio album ÷. The song was recorded in 2016 and first appeared online in early March 2017. The song is a romantic ballad written about his wife-to-be Cherry Seaborn, whom he knew from school and then reconnected with when she was working in New York. Sheeran revealed that the inspiration for the lyrics came after visiting James Blunt's house in Ibiza, where the two singers had listened to the rapper Future's music at six in the morning. He said: "Barefoot on the grass, dancing to our favorite song, which happened to be Future's "March Madness"... I booked the studio for the day, and I had that and I was like, right, let me just flesh that out. And the song happened and was sort of finished that day. I knew it was special."
In an interview with Zane Lowe, Sheeran said that he needed to write the best love song of his career with "Perfect". He said: "I need to do it 100% me, so everyone will listen to that will be like, "Ah! He can actually do it!" ... I wanted to beat "Thinking Out Loud", 'cause I know that song was going to define me."
Sheeran produced the song himself with help from Will Hicks. It was recorded with strings orchestration from his brother Matthew Sheeran. This is the first time the brothers had collaborated on a song as it was the final wish of their grandmother to see the brothers working together before she died. The full string orchestration was later used for the recording with Andrea Bocelli.
In March 2017, Sheeran broke the record set by Frankie Laine in 1953, occupying all of the top five positions in the United Kingdom, and placing nine songs in the top ten of the UK Singles Chart. Also, every single one of the sixteen tracks from his new album ÷ entered the top twenty. "Perfect" debuted at number four, selling 62,599 copies. After Sheeran's performance of "Perfect" on The X Factor on 26 November 2017, the song reached a new peak in the UK, advancing to number three and selling 32,507 units. The Beyoncé version, released on 1 December 2017, drove consumption of the track to 89,359 sales (including 45,460 from sales-equivalent streams) as it became Sheeran's second number-one song from ÷, following "Shape of You" – and his fourth number-one single in total. With UK sales of 1,048,313, "Perfect" became Sheeran's tenth million-selling single. It was the Christmas number-one song for 2017, and held the summit for six consecutive weeks before being displaced by Eminem's "River", which features Sheeran as a guest artist.
In the United States, ten songs from ÷ debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 2017, including "Perfect" at number thirty-seven. In October, the song ascended to number eighteen and became the third song from ÷ to reach the country's top twenty. It also lifted 4–3 on Digital Songs (50,000 downloads sold), 34–30 on Radio Songs (45 million) and 46–35 on Streaming Songs (11.5 million). On 30 October 2017, "Perfect" soared to the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100. The ballad gained in all metrics, holding at number three on Digital Song Sales (53,000, up 7 percent) and climbing 30-22 on Radio Songs (53 million, up 16 percent) and 35–27 on Streaming Songs (13.1 million, up 14 percent). On 20 November 2017, "Perfect" pushed to a new Billboard Hot 100 high (8–7) and reached the Radio Songs top ten (17–10; 73 million, up 16 percent). Sheeran scored his seventh Radio Songs top ten and the third from his album ÷, following "Shape of You" and "Castle on the Hill". The next week, "Perfect" hit top five on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the second-highest-charting hit from his album ÷, following "Shape of You". "Perfect" became Sheeran's third top five hit overall; his first, "Thinking Out Loud", rose to number two in 2015. "Perfect" remained at number three on Digital Song Sales (60,000, down 6 percent) and powered 10–6 on Radio Songs (80 million, up 10 percent) and 38–15 on Streaming Songs (18.9 million, up 61 percent).
On 4 December 2017, "Perfect" pushed to a new number three Billboard Hot 100 high, and became Sheeran's third number one on Digital Song Sales (69,000, down 1 percent). He previously topped the chart for a week in 2015 with "Thinking Out Loud" and for ten weeks earlier in 2017 with "Shape of You". "Perfect" reached number one on Digital Song Sales, aided by the first few hours of tracking for its duet version, released before the end of the sales (and streaming) tracking week at 7 p.m. ET on 30 November. For the full week, the Beyoncé version accounted for 18 percent of the song's sales. On 11 December 2017, after a full tracking week, the single topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming Sheeran's second number-one song in the United States and Beyoncé's sixth as a solo act. "Perfect" remained at number-one on the Digital Songs chart with sales of 181,000 copies (up 202 percent). The duet version accounted for 63 percent of the song's total sales for the week. "Perfect" also rose 11–3 on the Streaming Songs chart with 34.9 million US streams, up 87 percent, while on Radio Songs, it pushed 4–3 (102 million in audience, up 14 percent). The duet topped the Hot 100 for five weeks. The original version of the song would later take over at the top on the week ending 20 January 2018. After six total weeks at number one, the song was dethroned by "Havana" by Camila Cabello featuring Young Thug. "Perfect" was the seventh best-selling song of 2017 in the US, with 1,340,000 copies sold that year. It was the best-selling song of 2018, with 1,300,000 copies sold.
The original version peaked at number one in Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. After the Beyoncé duet release, "Perfect" also reached number one in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The song is Sheeran's fourth to reach number one in Australia, and held the country's top spot for eight consecutive weeks before "God's Plan" by Drake displaced it. It went to number one as well in Canada, becoming Sheeran's second number one there and Beyoncé's first. As of 3 January 2019, the song has sold 207,000 digital copies in Canada.
The video for "Perfect" narrates a romantic story that happened in the Hintertux Mountains, Austria
On 22 September 2017, a lyric video for "Perfect" was released on Sheeran's YouTube channel. The music video for "Perfect" was released on Sheeran's YouTube channel on 9 November 2017. The video stars Zoey Deutch and was directed by Jason Koenig, who also directed the video for "Shape of You". The video was filmed at the Austrian ski resort of Hintertux and shows Sheeran and Deutch going on a ski trip with friends, with the two dancing in the snow and ending up in a cabin together. Ross McNeilage who writes for MTV UK called the video a "Christmas dream" for its wintery visual. While praising the simple story and the video's cinematography, McNeilage noted that Zoey Deutch acts opposite to the superstar as his love interest and we watch as they "coyly flirt until they realise their love for one another and slow dance in the snow together." As of October 2019, the music video has received over 2.1 billion views on YouTube, making it the 33rd most viewed video on the site. It received nominations for Song of the Year, Best Pop Video and Best Direction at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards.
On 1 December 2017, a duet by American singer Beyoncé titled "Perfect Duet" was made available worldwide.
The song is a stripped down, acoustic version of the original, with Beyoncé singing the second verse from a female perspective. Sheeran stated the song was Beyoncé's favorite from the album, and reached out to her to re-record the song. Beyoncé agreed, and the two recorded the song in May 2017.
On 2 December 2018, almost exactly a year since the release of the duet version, Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé performed the first-ever live rendition of "Perfect Duet" at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.
A fully orchestral version of the song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios although only parts of it were used in the original release of the song. The full orchestral version was used in the duet with Andrea Bocelli.