In July 2013, it was reported that Lambert had left his record label of four years, RCA Records, due to "creative differences" and the label allegedly pushing him to record an album composed of cover songs from the 1980s. The day after his announcement, Lambert was contacted by Warner Bros. Records. A deal with the label was confirmed by Billboard in January 2015, along with news that his upcoming album would be executive produced by Max Martin and Shellback and was scheduled for release in the summer of 2015. Songwriting for the album began in early 2014, with recording taking place between 2014 and 2015 in the producers' native Sweden.
Lambert first revealed the album title on social media on January 29, 2015, also his birthday. In March 2015, he unveiled additional details regarding the musical direction of the album in an interview with Hunger TV magazine. Describing the style of the album as less "campy" and theatrical than his previous material, Lambert also identified the album's genre as "definitely pop but not bubblegum." Lambert revealed the single cover art for "Ghost Town" on April 16, 2015.
Jason Lipshutz, a writer from Billboard, noted that "Ghost Town" starts with "a Wild West whistle, which laces together guitar balladry and EDM drops". Lewis Corner of Digital Spy described as the song has "a massive earworm hook – which is in the form of an addictive whistle line here – but its overall tone is marginally darker than their previous shiny anthems." He also noted that the song's verses are "dusty and spacious" with "an acoustic guitar line" and the chorus drops into "a deep house bassline and stomping club beats." Music critics noted the similarity between "Ghost Town" and Madonna's similarly titled song, "Ghosttown," because of the similarity between the titles and proximity of the songs' releases. Lambert was surprised Madonna also had a song with the same title, but he thought "Hers is like a post-apocalyptic love song, mid-tempo, and mine's like an existential dance goth rave thing. So they're two different songs – they just share a title."
Rob Copsey from Official Charts Company called Ghost Town "a triumphant return...the kind of song that forces you to sit up and take notice." Lipshutz from Billboard commented that "the track could use a bigger energy boost, although the dark house beats suit Lambert well". Jon Caramanica of The New York Times called it "perhaps his best single to date... becomes a house diva, singing with precision and ambition but in service of the song." Lewis Corner of Digital Spy commented "it's a mood perfect for Adam's balance of glam rock image, soulful vocal and today's house music-dominated landscape."
"Ghost Town" entered the UK Singles Chart at number 82. The following week, the song climbed to number 71 with 5,637 on sales.