The song was written by vocalist and rhythm guitarist Courtney Love, guitarist Eric Erlandson, and The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan, who contributed to several songs on the album. "Malibu" was one of the band's most commercially and critically successful songs, peaking at number three on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart, and garnering a Grammy nomination in 1999.
Love wrote the lyrics to the song about her late husband Kurt Cobain's stay at a rehabilitation clinic in Malibu, California while receiving treatment for his heroin addiction prior to his suicide in 1994. The single also includes "Drag," an outtake from Celebrity Skin which was replaced by "Malibu." The song was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal field, losing to "Put Your Lights On" by Santana. The single was certified Gold in Australia in 1999, with sales in excess of 40,000.