The song received positive reviews from critics. Sam Lanksy of Idolator called the song "surprisingly great" and noted it was a "mature midpoint" between the group's signature "rollicking pop-rock confection[s]" and "dreary ballads". Lanksy additionally called the song "merciful" and complimented it for using alternative-folk influences without "smell[ing] like spilled beer". Amy Sciarretto of PopCrush gave the song 4 out of 5 stars, calling it a "contemplative, acoustic guitar-driven song" and complimenting it for being "more memorable" than any of the group's previous works. Sciarretto noted that the song would resonate with listeners of many different ages and showed that One Direction "isn't just a boy band"; although noted the song was not as "crazy catchy" as their previous songs. Lauren Wheeler of TheCelebrityCafe.com gave the song 5 out of 5 stars noting that the lyrics were "reflective" and "much deeper than some of their bigger hits." Wheeler added that the song showed that One Direction "not only have range, but also have matured through their music."
On 31 October 2013, the song debuted at number one on the Irish Singles Chart, becoming One Direction's fourth number-one single in Ireland. The song also debuted at number one in New Zealand, becoming both their second number-one debut and single on the New Zealand Singles Chart. The single has been unsuccessful in reaching number one in the UK on three occasions, firstly by debuting at number four, then climbing to three, and finally by stalling at two—although it was at number one on the iTunes for the entirety of that week and it peaked at number one on the UK Singles Downloads Chart. In Australia, the song debuted at number three on the ARIA Charts and has since been certified Gold.
In the United States, it charted at number six, giving the band their fourth U.S. top ten single. It has charted in the top 15 for 19 weeks, seven of those in the top 10, and has become the band's second-highest selling single in the U.S. after their debut single "What Makes You Beautiful" (2011). The song also reached number one on the Adult Pop Songs chart, becoming One Direction's first number one on a U.S. airplay chart. It has sold over 2.5 million digital copies in the U.S. as of December 2014.
Three days before the music video was uploaded, three teasers were posted, once each day. Zayn Malik and Liam Payne also posted a picture from the video with Malik posting a picture with his sister.
The video was directed by Ben Winston, who also directed the video for their previous single "Best Song Ever". The video was accidentally published and leaked by Vevo two days earlier when they were supposed to upload the second teaser for the music video, but it was immediately removed. It was then officially uploaded on 3 November 2013. The video features some the band's family members: Zayn's sister, Harry Styles's mother, Liam's parents and sisters, Niall Horan's brother and Louis Tomlinson's grandparents (two of whom are now deceased). It starts in a dark room with the band developing photos. Afterwards, certain family photos for each member are shown, and the photos morph into the same family members doing a current recreation of the photos. Photos included in the video consist of: Zayn, aged 7, with his little sister; Louis, aged 8, with his grandparents; Harry, aged 4, with his mother; Niall, aged 4, with his brother being aged 10 when the photo was taken; Liam aged 10, with his family dressed formally.