"The Beautiful Ones" is a haunting musical tale of emotional longing and unrequited love. Starting out as a slow falsetto ballad, with Prince's piano and organ-sounding synthesizers providing a lush backdrop, it gradually builds in volume and intensity, and by the end of the song, Prince is screaming out "Do you want him, or do you want me? 'Cause I want you." The song comes to a quiet close, with Prince's keyboards and drum solo serving as the closing instrumentation.
The song replaced "Electric Intercourse" on the Purple Rain album. It was originally written for Susannah Melvoin (Revolution band member Wendy's twin sister) to woo her away from her then–boyfriend.
In the film, Prince sings the song directly from the stage to Apollonia, who is sitting with his rival Morris Day. The song is a direct and urgent appeal to Apollonia to choose Prince as her lover — and it is a direct challenge to Day. Ultimately, as the song ends and Prince lies, apparently spent, on the floor of the stage, Apollonia leaves in tears. (Later, she surprises him when he is unlocking his bike to leave.)
The version on the Purple Rain album is slightly cut; a longer version of the song exists.