May 4, 2017
Lyrically, the song describes a sexual encounter.
Horan explained in a newsletter email sent to fans on May 1, that the single "happened randomly" after he "listened to a lot of early 80s artists, like Don Henley. He explained "that lends its hand to heavy bass and funky guitar sounds, so it was fun to play around with that". He specified it does not sound like anything else on the album. As well as the newsletter, Horan confirmed the single released by posting a multiple scale photo of the single cover to his official Instagram. While Horan originally confirmed on Twitter that Gabe Turner and Ben Winston would be directing the music video, he later told press in July 2017, that he had scrapped the video and wasn't looking to film another.
Slow Hands debuted at #1 on iTunes in 38 countries. It also debuted at #1 on iTunes Worldwide Chart.
Slow Hands debuted at #5 on Scotland's Official Chart, #7 on Ireland's Official Chart, #11 on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart and #25 on the UK Official Chart. The song peaked at #2 in Australia, #11 in the United States, #7 in the United Kingdom, #9 in Canada and #3 in Scotland and Belgium. It was certified platinum in the United States (3x), the United Kingdom, Ireland (3x), Australia (4x), Canada (4x) and New Zealand. In August 2017, Capitol Records announced Slow Hands was the 5th most tweeted about Song of the Summer. On 24 September 2017, Slow Hands became the most played song on US pop radio and, after two weeks atop the chart, he was dethroned by fellow bandmate Liam Payne's single Strip That Down. This achievement meant One Direction were the only band to have three members achieve solo #1 hits, and the first group to have two members occupying the #1 and #2 spots.
Billboard's Taylor Weatherby noted "Slow Hands" focuses on a "funkier guitar vibe", compared to Horan's previous single "This Town." She also opined "the subtly-sexy song" shows an "edgier side of Niall." Colin Stutz from the publication, added, "The combination of a thumping beat and Horan's raspy vocals makes the song hardly even sound like the same guy who sang ["This Town"]. But what "Slow Hands" shows is that Horan definitely won't just be sticking to the sweet singer-songwriter sound on his solo debut."
In The Irish Times, Jennifer Gannon wrote that it’s no radical departure, Niall hasn’t decided to go Gaga but it’s a step in a more Sheeran-style, crowd-pleasing direction. A gentle, foot-stomper about a lady with a magic touch, a lady who knows what she wants, she wants to get her hands all over Niall’s "dirty laundry" and not in a bringing your washing home on a Sunday way."
On 7 May 2018, Slow Hands received a Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) award.