It makes sense that Harris is eager to get Rihanna’s vocals on this track. Their first collaboration in 2011 launched Harris into mainstream popularity. It was also a boon for Rihanna, becoming one of the best-selling singles in history. Harris had recently tried to lend a track to RiRi’s ANTi, though it didn’t pan out.
Harris and Rihanna recorded this song in New York, while Rihanna was on tour. Harris said they made this track in one all-night session, working until 8 in the morning. Rihanna didn’t hear the final version until they were backstage at Coachella in 2016. Harris told BBC 1:
She’s got the iconic voice. Like, the first time that I heard her sing ‘We Found Love’—I had listened to the guide vocal for so long. I lived with it. I was like, it can’t get any better than this, even if it is Rihanna. And then I heard Rihanna and it was like I was already listening to the radio, it was like I was listening to the top 40. Her voice is out of control. The tone, how distinctive it is, the way she carries it, like every little phrase, annunciation. There’s nothing like her. Stylistically, she can’t be touched.
On July 13th, 2016, Taylor Swift’s reps confirmed that she co-wrote the song under the name Nils Sjoberg, and she and Calvin agreed to keep it a secret. The “her” in the song is likely a reference to Taylor, who was Harris' girlfriend at the time of release. Swift was spotted wearing the cover art weeks before the single’s release, and some fans speculated that she sang the “oohs” in the chorus, which was later confirmed by her team.