Kings of Leon’s “Radioactive” Lyrics Meaning

In “Radioactive”, the singer brings together several elements to describe the importance of knowing a person’s roots no matter what.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Kings of Leon's Radioactive at

Here, he talks about a roll call, which may signify the mentioning of notable names. The basic message that runs through the song is to remember where you came from no matter how high you go.

This concept becomes clearer from the 5th line to the end of the song, where the narrator mentions crowds wanting to see one’s face and ‘children in glory’. These could signify the lifestyle of a person who may have reached stardom and is enjoying the praise that comes along with it. The title, which could also mean dangerous, depicts how harmful it is to deny one’s heritage and sell oneself to stardom. The writer tells such a person to always remember his roots which actually account for the reason they have been pushed to those heights.

The band has stated that this song was inspired by an old gospel tune they often sang as adolescents.

“Radioactive” Information

Writing: Jared, Caleb, Matthew and Nathan Followill (all of whom make up Kings of Leon)
Production Duties: J. King and A. Petraglia
Release: September of 2010 (via RCA Records)
Album: Kings of Leon’s 2010 album titled “Come Around Sundown”

Did Kings of Leon release “Radioactive” as a single?

Yes. It was the first of three singles Kings of Leon released from their Grammy-nominated “Come Around Sundown” album.

Billboard Charts

“Radioactive” entered at least four Billboard record charts. These charts include the “Hot 100” and the “Alternative Airplay”, where it soared to numbers 37 and 1 respectively.

Top 10 outside America

In UK, New Zealand and Ireland, “Radioactive” peaked within the top 10 of their singles charts.

Grammy Nominations

In 2011, this song was honored with two Grammy nominations, one of which was for “Best Rock Song”. In its attempt to win in this category, “Radioactive” competed with the following songs:

“Angry World” beat all four songs (including “Radioactive”) to win the award.

Kings of Leon’s “Come Around Sundown” Album

“Come Around Sundown” is the title of the fifth studio project of US rock collective, Kings of Leon. This album officially arrived on October 15 of 2010. It was released through RCA Records.

This album, which contains various subgenres of rock music including alternative rock, was accompanied by three singles.

This project was preceded by its lead single, “Radioactive”. The album’s second single is titled “Pyro”. The final single is a song called “Back Down South”.

“Come Around Sundown” secured the number one spot on album charts in various parts of the world including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Canada. In the US, it landed at number two on the prestigious Billboard 200 chart.

Furthermore, this project entered the top-five on official albums in the following European nations:

  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Norway
  • Denmark

This was one of the albums nominated at the Grammys in 2012. The project received a nomination in the “Best Rock Album” category. Ultimately, the award was given to Foo Fighters, for their seventh studio offering “Wasting Light”. Wilco’s “The Whole Love” and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “I’m with You” are the other projects that were also nominated in this category.

When it comes to certifications, “Come Around Sundown” has reached triple-Platinum status in the UK. In addition, it has been awarded Gold certification in the US by the RIAA.

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