Like her co-star Leighton Meester, Taylor Momsen rose to fame as an actress on the TV series Gossip Girl before launching a music career. With Momsen on vocals, John Secolo on guitar, Matt Chiarelli on bass, and Nick Carbone on drums, the group began finding a balance between hard rock and post-grunge.
The Pretty Reckless completely revised its lineup in 2010, with Momsen retaining her frontwoman role as guitarist Ben Phillips, bassist Mark Damon, and drummer Jamie Perkins replaced her previous bandmates. Light Me Up was released in Europe and Australia in 2010 and North America in 2011. The Pretty Reckless toured behind it, releasing the Hit Me Like a Man EP in March 2012. A year later, the group's second full-length Going to Hell appeared.