During recording sessions for The Wanted's second British studio album, Battleground, it was announced that a record deal with American label Def Jam Records was in the pipeline. It was reported that the three-album deal would see the group release material in the United States as early as February 2012. It was later confirmed by Def Jam that the band's first stateside release would be a ten-track EP, that would consist of a mixture of previously available material, alongside two all-new tracks, exclusive to the American market. Soon after the report, the band teased that they had been in the studio with a "big American star", recording a duet entitled "Jealousy". The "star" was later revealed to be Rihanna. It was later reported by Digital Spy that after the song had been mixed, tuned and finalised, the final mix "didn't cut it", and as such, the song had been completely scrapped, and was not going to be released.
Band member Jay McGuiness later revealed that the group had been in the studio with songwriter and performer Ryan Tedder, working a number of different songs, including one track which was tentatively titled "Satellite". British rapper Example later confirmed that he had written a song for the EP, entitled "Chasing the Sun", which he claimed, if released as a single, could be the track that would officially make the band a staple of the American music industry. Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun later backed the group for American success, claiming "they could be as big as the Backstreet Boys or 'N Sync with a little bit of guidance." In March 2012, the EP's track listing was confirmed to contain eight previously released tracks, including all seven of the band's British singles – "All Time Low", "Glad You Came", "Gold Forever", "Lose My Mind", "Heart Vacancy", "Lightning" and "Warzone", the album track "Rocket", and two all new tracks - "Chasing The Sun" and "Satellite".
"All Time Low" was released as the EP's lead single on 1 July 2011. The single was available in three formats - a standard download, a nine-track remix EP and as part of a five-track live performance EP recorded at the iTunes festival, London, in March 2011. Aside from charting at number 19 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart, the single failed to achieve any sort of commercial success, as its release did not receive any promotion.
"Glad You Came" was released as the EP's second single on 18 October 2011. This time, a much heavier promotional schedule was given to the single, and as such, following heavy radio play and television coverage, the single entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 64. The success of the single soon skyrocketed in January 2012 after the band gave a live performance of the song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which became their first ever TV performance in the United States. The band went on tour throughout America in January 2012 to promote the single, and a number of shows became sell-outs. The band soon began to receive nationwide acclaim, and in February 2012, the single's success continued to grow after the song was covered in an episode of the American television drama series Glee. The song began to climb up the Billboard Hot 100, and at the end of February, it peaked at #3, breaking an all time record, becoming the highest chart position for a British boyband ever on the chart, beating the existing record of #7 set by Take That's "Back for Good". The band reportedly sold over 180,000 copies of the single over the course of a week.
The Wanted received generally positive reviews from music critics upon its release. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 62 based on 5 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".
In the United States, The Wanted debuted at number 7 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 34,000 copies. To date, the album has sold 207,000 copies in the United States. On 3 July 2012, the group officially announced they would be visiting Australia and New Zealand, for the promotion from their extended play. They visited the countries in August 2012.