It is an upbeat pop song and lyrically, it talks about a girl who thinks she's great. It received favourable reviews from music critics, who noted that it was a catchy radio hit. However, some critics noted that it leaves no impressions at the end. Commercially, the song was a success, topping the UK Singles Chart, while it reached the top-ten in Austria, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and more. In the song's music video, Williams plays a guardian angel who causes all sorts of trouble trying to protect a beautiful mortal. Despite wearing a pink suit, the singer is invisible to his charge, played by actress Kaya Scodelario.
The song is in the game Just Dance 2014. It is also one of the select songs available on the demo version.
The track was originally rumoured to be titled "Vertigo". Williams said of the track: "It's a summer song, very much in a similar vein to 'Rock DJ', about a girl who thinks she's great. And she might be, but she's a bit nefarious with her ways. Some songs take an age to write and some songs just fall out of your mouth completely formed, and you don't have to think about it. I don't know why that fell out of my mouth and out of my brain at that particular time – it just did." On 10 September, Williams debuted "Candy" on Radio 2's Breakfast Show with host Chris Evans. The official artwork for the track features a model of Williams's head covered in pink polka dots.
"Candy" was written by Robbie Williams, Gary Barlow and Terje Olsen, while production was handled by Jacknife Lee. The song samples Norwegian producer Todd Terje‘s single "Eurodans". It is an upbeat pop track about a girl with a jumped-up opinion of herself. In the hook, he uses nursery rhymes about the plague and taxes. "Hey ho here she goes/ Either a little too high or a little too low/ Got no self-esteem and vertigo/ Cause she thinks she's made of candy," Williams chants on the chorus.
Lewis Corner of Digital Spy gave the song 4 out of 5 stars, writing that "'Candy' doesn't touch the dizzying heights of 'Rock DJ' or 'Angels', but it's also far from his worst song to date." Corner also wrote: "Robbie chants on a bouncy, playground chant of a chorus brassier than his stage persona – and there within lies the charm." John Bush of Allmusic wrote that "The trailer single 'Candy' is a trite, uptempo track with a sing-song chorus but not much of a shelf life, it's the perfect radio hit." Sam Lanksy of Idolator wrote the song "is sprightly and spunky with a clever hook — arguably the best sweets-related diss since Annie's 'Chewing Gum.'" Tom Hocknell of BBC Music called it "catchier than Velcro, although it’s unclear why anyone needs to own it – after the second listen it owns you. It’s eager to please, certainly."
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian was less positive, writing that "[...] It's so desperate to be a smash hit that it ends up sounding like one of those novelty singles that used to blight the September charts, bought by returning holidaymakers with rosy memories of the hotel disco; all it's lacking is an accompanying dance." Philip Matusavage of musicOMH also gave the song a mixed review, writing that "It's a neat précis of the problems facing Robbie in 2012. Its bouncy dancehall brass is undeniably and infectiously catchy but it’s also short-lived; the song leaves no impression at its end." Kitty Empire of The Observer observed that "it would better suit a boy band in a Caribbean time warp. But somehow, it looks as if it will re-establish Williams's presence in the charts today, regardless."
In Germany, "Candy" broke an airplay record for being played more times during a week than any other song ever. It peaked at number 3 on the main chart. In Austria, the song was a success, debuting and peaking, for three consecutive weeks, at number 4 on the Ö3 Austria Top 40 chart. "Candy" was a growing success in the Netherlands, debuting at number 27 on the Dutch Top 40 chart. After six weeks climbing the charts, the song entered the top-ten, reaching number 6, on 10 November 2012. In the Dutch Mega Top 100 "Candy" reached number 1 on 17 November 2012. It reached top 10 in more than 20 countries, and Top 40 in other territories including Japan and New Zealand.
In his native UK, despite BBC Radio 1 not putting it on their playlist, "Candy" gathered over 10,000 radio spins before the official digital release. The song later achieved more than 30,000 spins on UK radio. On the UK Singles Chart, "Candy" became the singer's first number-one in eight years (the last being 2004's "Radio"), his seventh solo UK number-one and the 14th number-one of his career (including Take That and solo material). It also became his fastest-selling single in the UK since "Rock DJ" 12 years earlier, and with 137,000 copies sold that week, it also became the fastest-selling male artist single of the year, and the third fastest-selling single of 2012 overall. The song remained number one on the UK singles chart for a second week, shifting 90,000 copies. It was the 22nd best-selling single of 2012 in the UK, with sales of 503,000. In June 2013, "Candy" became Robbie's biggest hit in UK Singles Chart after "Angels", with sales overpassing the 650,000 mark.
A music video to accompany the release of "Candy" was first released onto YouTube on 10 September 2012 at a total length of three minutes and twenty-five seconds. The video was filmed in Spitalfields in east London in the summer of 2012 and was directed by Joseph Kahn. In the video, Williams plays a guardian angel who causes all sorts of trouble trying to protect a beautiful mortal. Despite wearing a pink suit, Williams is invisible to his charge, played by Skins actress Kaya Scodelario.
The video begins when Candice (played by Scodelario), dressed in a royal blue dress and huge sunglasses, pushes past Rob and struts along a London street. Men are captivated by her beauty, with one even getting run over. Instead of helping him, she takes a photo of him on her phone and then sends it to her friends with a LMAO caption. As she is walking and texting, Williams, who is invisible to the naked eye, clears the pavements for her. He uses his supernatural powers to move pedestrians and workmen out of her way. At one point, he shoves an elderly couple to the ground before jumping in front of a moving car to stop her from being run over. As he lies on the ground dancing, another car drives over him but he remains unscathed. Williams finally gets some one on one time with the actress when she stops for a coffee. However, she is more interested in applying her make-up than making small talk, and Williams is left singing to himself.
When Candice takes a black cab ride, Williams' actions take an even more extreme turn and he launches himself through the windscreen in a bid to get her attention. Later, he's shattering glass again when a man throws him through the window of a pub. This seems to be one accident too many, and the hunk is then seen surrounded in a white chalk outline like an American murder victim. Williams' next incarnation is as a knight on a white horse - complete with enormous angel wings. As he rides behind her on his gallant steed she remains unaware of his presence. The song draws to an end as Williams continues to take the brunt of possible accidents. He crouches in front of a cyclist, sending him flying, walks through a pane of glass, and gets run over again. The finale of his bravery comes when a piano is dropped on him from a great height and he spontaneously combusts in order to torch some low flying pigeons before merging with Candice.