After forming and being signed to Geffen Records in 2010 through mass auditioning, The Wanted recorded "All Time Low". It was one of six songs recorded by the band at the time for their debut album due for release in late 2010. The track was co-written by its producer Steve Mac in collaboration with Wayne Hector and Ed Drewett. It was mixed by Dann Pursey and Ren Swan. Lyrically, "All Time Low" is written in reference to rising from the difficulty of having someone special constantly on your mind. Speaking to Orange UK, Max George interpreted what the song was about: "It's basically about a girl you can't get out of your mind - whatever you do, you just can't - and it describes how to get up from this all time low." Orange UK described "All Time Low" as having a "lovesick" theme to it. The lines "Waiting at the station/I'm late for work, a vital presentation" were said to take reference to Microsoft PowerPoint by music website Popjustice, while the line "I'm in pieces, seems like peace is the only thing I'll never know" was highlighted by Fraser McAlpine of the BBC as being the most memorable in the song in addition to having a devilish internal rhyme. "All Time Low" acts as The Wanted's debut single and first single from their debut album.
The single was first released on digital download format in Ireland and the United Kingdom on 25 July 2010. The following day, "All Time Low" was released on CD single format in both countries on 26 July 2010. In August 2010, they performed the song in Hannover, Germany at The Dome 55. On 11 September 2010, they performed the song at the Freedom Festival in Hull alongside "Heart Vacancy" and "Lose My Mind". In the United States, the single was released on 1 July 2011, however, it did not achieve any form of commercial success in the country.
"All Time Low" received critical praise from Ryan Love of Digital Spy who gave the song a four out of five star rating. Love described the song as "a bit of a surprise" and gave praise to its opening "quite simply immense" strings. Love went on to call the song a "fresh 'n' fizzy indie-tinged pop gem". "All Time Low" received its second four out of five star rating after a review by Fraser McAlpine from the BBC. McAlpine reviewed the track mentioning: "Now, for a transparent piece of silly old pop music, this has class cooties. The telltale signs are there in the string riff, and the mature, subtle way they approach the singing, and the restraint with which they have applied the autotune." He went on to say that the song was good despite sampling a melody from Coldplay's "The Scientist" (2002). McAlpine added that the song boasts a memorable line with a devilish internal rhyme: "I'm in pieces, it seems like peace is the only thing I'll never know".