In January of 2012, Gomez announced she intended to take a musical hiatus after releasing three studio albums with Selena Gomez & the Scene, opting instead to focus on her acting career. That year, she voiced the lead role of Mavis in the animated film Hotel Transylvania alongside Adam Sandler, which went on to gross over $358 million. In 2013, Gomez starred in Harmony Korine's controversial black comedycrime filmSpring Breakers alongside James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine. The movie centers around four college-aged girls on their spring break in Florida, where they meet an eccentric local drug dealer and descend into a world of drugs, crimes, and violence. Her role in the film saw Gomez portrayed in a more mature image than in previous works. On July 23, 2013, Gomez released her debut studio album, Stars Dance. It spawned two singles, including "Come & Get It", which peaked at number six on the US BillboardHot 100. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard200 album chart, giving Gomez her highest first week sales at the time. It received mixed reviews from music critics, who noted Gomez's attempts to grow her sound, but felt she lacked anything unique. In November of the following year she released the compilation album For You (2014), which finalized her contract with Hollywood Records. The album generated one single, "The Heart Wants What It Wants", which peaked at number six on the Hot 100 chart and was critically acclaimed for it's mature sound. In December 2014, Gomez signed a deal with Interscope Records, officially ending her partnership with Hollywood Records.
The majority of Revival was recorded in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, over the course of one week in April 2015. For the sessions, Gomez choice to partner with co-writers Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter from the band Semi Precious Weapons, along with hip-hop producer Hit-Boy and past collaborators Rock Mafia. During the day the group would go to the beach and explore, while at night they would record in the studio "for hours". Gomez said she wanted to feel "weird and different" while recording and conceptualizing the album, and having her entire production team working together would provide her with a cohesive sound.