"Kiss You" was written by Kristoffer Fogelmark, Kristian Lundin, Albin Nedler, Savan Kotecha, Shellback, and its producers, Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub. Falk, Kotecha, and Yacoub had collaboratively composed One Direction's previous hit singles, "What Makes You Beautiful", "One Thing", and "Live While We're Young". In April 2012, The Independent reported that Simon Cowell, the group's manager, had challenged prominent songwriters to compete for space on One Direction's second album. Falk said, "It's important to get their personalities on the music." In addition, the article reported that Syco Records was working on candidates that included Max Martin and Lundin.
"Kiss You" was well received by contemporary music critics, who centred on its quality of production. Both Rolling Stone's Jon Dolan, who praised its effectiveness, and Chris Payne of Billboard, who appreciated the melody, described "Kiss You" as one of the album's highlights. Alexis Petridis for The Guardian commended the track's chorus as "hard to dislodge from your brain". Robert Copsey of Digital Spy noted the song's possibility to become an international hit, applauding it sonically. A reviewer for MTV News described the track's lyricism as "butterflies-inducing", and Sam Lansky of Idolator wrote that "Kiss You" is noticeably a stand-out track on its parent album. Melinda Newman, writing for HitFix, regarded the song as "a bouncy, electronic infectious ditty," while Chris Younie, a critic from 4Music, deemed it an "amazing pop song", lauding the group's falsetto and its "head-banging anthemic" chorus. 
The single made its Irish Singles Chart debut at number 24 on the week ending 13 December 2012. It peaked at number seven on the week ending 17 January 2013, marking their sixth top ten appearance in Ireland. "Kiss You" entered at number 152 in the UK Singles Chart on 24 November 2012. It peaked at number nine on the UK Singles Chart on 26 January 2013, becoming One Direction's sixth top ten hit in the United Kingdom. On the week ending 18 November 2012, "Kiss You" debuted at number 90 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 due to digital download sales from its parent album. As a result of an "end-of-year download rush" on the week ending 30 December 2012, the track re-entered the Hot 100 at number 83. After the accompanying music video was released, the song re-entered the Hot 100 at number 65. "Kiss You" had sold 207,000 digital downloads in the US by 18 January 2013. The single ultimately peaked at number 46 on the Hot 100 and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on 25 April 2013, denoting shipments of 500,000 copies.