|Single by Imagine Dragons|
|from the album Continued Silence EP and Night Visions|
|Released||October 29, 2012|
|Alex da Kid|
|Imagine Dragons singles chronology|
"Radioactive" is a song by American pop rock band Imagine Dragons for their major-label debut EP Continued Silence and later on their debut studio album, Night Visions (2012), as the opening track. It was first sent to modern rock radio on October 29, 2012, and then released to contemporary radio on April 9, 2013. Musically, "Radioactive" is an electronic rock and alternative rock song with elements of dubstep that contains cryptic lyrics of apocalyptic and revolutionist themes.
The song received positive reviews from critics, who praised the production, lyrics, and vocals, calling it a highlight on the album. Due to heavy rotation on various commercials and trailers, the song became a sleeper hit, peaking at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming the band's first top 10 single as well as being the third best selling song in that country in 2013. It also broke the record for slowest ascension to the top 5 in chart history and currently holds the record for most weeks spent on the Billboard Hot 100 at 87 weeks. The song has also reached number one in Sweden and in the top 20 in several countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, becoming Imagine Dragons' most successful single to date. It has since been certified Diamond in the US, making it one of the best selling singles of all time.
"Radioactive" received two Grammy Awards nominations for Record of the Year and Best Rock Performance, winning the latter. This was Imagine Dragons' first time being nominated. During the broadcast, they presented a remix of the song with their Interscope label-mate, rapper Kendrick Lamar. The remix was later released for purchase on iTunes.
"Radioactive" was written by Imagine Dragons and producer Alex Da Kid. It is one of the more electronically influenced tracks on Night Visions as well as one of the darkest, similar to fourth track "Demons". The song is an electronic rock and alternative rock song with elements of dubstep. The song's lyrics speak of apocalyptic and revolutionist themes: 'I'm waking up to ash and dust' and 'This is it, the apocalypse'. Though the band has publicly maintained its secularity, NPR music critic Ann Powers has opined that the song features strong "religious or spiritual imagery", the likes of which have been common throughout the history of rock music.
Speaking on the song, front man Dan Reynolds said:
"Radioactive, to me, it's very masculine, powerful-sounding song, and the lyrics behind it, there's a lot of personal story behind it, but generally speaking, it's a song about having an awakening; kind of waking up one day and deciding to do something new, and see life in a fresh way,"-- Dan Reynolds
The song is written in the key of B dorian.
"Radioactive" was released to positive reviews. Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio gave the song a rating of 4.5 out of 5, calling it "hook-y [and] emotional", and stated that the "drama" and "excitement" of the song would allow "Radioactive" to appeal to both alternative pop fans and hard rockers.AbsolutePunk gave a positive review, calling the acoustic section of the song "haunting", and called the chorus "hypnotizing". Dara Hickey of Unreality Shout also reacted positively, calling the song the "darkest moment" on the album, and stated that, like all the other songs on the album, "Radioactive" was successful in creating a sound that "never fails to take off and send fists skyward".IGN lauded the song, calling it "strangely intense and abrasive", and stated that "Radioactive" was "perhaps the greatest calling card of Imagine Dragons".
Crave Online called the song an "opening throb", saying that the song "sexes up the dub-flirtation with a verse hingeing on the line 'this is it, the apocalypse' and a triumphant chorus, with more than a few shades of Hip-Hop in the production", and that the song was as "radio-ready as they come".Our Vinyl stated that the "power of this song is outstanding with heavy drums and more of an electronic feel than the rest of the album and strong, impressive vocals from front-man Dan Reynolds which are reciprocated throughout the LP." Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone was critical of the song, calling it "a dour moaner that sound[s] like Chris Martin trying to write an Eminem ballad about the end of the world."
Hipster Runoff, a satirical and now discontinued readership blog, named it 'the worst song of all time'.
"Radioactive" debuted at 96 on the Billboard Hot 100 after the release of Night Visions in September 2012 and remained at the lower ends of the chart for some time. In April 2013, the song made its top ten entry at number seven, besting the number 15 position set by previous single "It's Time". In mid June, the song reached number four, breaking the record for the slowest ascension to the top five, besting the previous holder Florida Georgia Line's song "Cruise", which broke the record just three weeks earlier. Two weeks later, the song reached its peak at number three. The song formerly held the record for the longest reign atop the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart at 23 weeks before being surpassed by Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance". "Radioactive" currently holds the record for the longest reign atop the Billboard Rock Airplay chart, with 24 weeks.
The song is also the best-selling rock song in US digital history. It was the No. 2 Song of the Summer according to Billboard and spent 87 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, breaking the all-time chart longevity record, previously held by Jason Mraz's 2008 single "I'm Yours". It has sold more copies in a calendar year than any other song by a rock act in digital history. "Radioactive" was the third best selling song of 2013 with sales of 5,496,000 for the year. It has gone on to sell 8,234,360 digital copies in the nation as of September 2017, and was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The song has reached number one in Sweden and in the top twenty of several countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand as well as several parts of Europe. In the UK, the song debuted at 35 thanks to strong downloads from the Hear Me EP in November. After the release of Night Visions in April, the song peaked at number 12, becoming their highest charting single there.
The music video debuted on December 10, 2012. It was directed by Syndrome and features actors Lou Diamond Phillips and Alexandra Daddario and puppeteers from Puppet Heap. The video revolves around a mysterious female drifter (Daddario) on a quest to save her friends in Imagine Dragons from the perils of a sinister, underground puppet-fighting ring led by Phillips. The Champion of the fight, Gorigula, a large purple beast, beats and kills innocent stuffed animals and puppets forced to fight. After one puppet, Screaming Richard, is killed, the woman's pink teddy bear puppet enters the ring and fights Gorigula, initially being beaten up. After rising from the ground, the teddy bear knocks out Gorigula with a single superpower punch. The ringleader sends two bodyguards to subdue the teddy, but both are disintegrated by the teddy's laser vision. The remaining spectators flee, leaving the drifter with the stunned ringleader. The drifter takes a key off the chain around the ringleader's neck and unlocks the dungeon holding the band. They walk out, leaving the ringleader in the dungeon; he is soon surrounded and attacked by the earlier defeated puppets and stuffed animals.
Speaking of the video to MTV, Reynolds said "We read through a ton of scripts from really talented directors, and we came across one that stood out to us in particular, because it put into visuals the general theme of the song, which is kind of an empowering song about an awakening, but it did it in a way that was very different". "A lot of people probably see a post-apocalyptic world when they hear 'Radioactive', understandably, but we wanted to deliver something that was maybe a little different from that ... a lot different from that."
The video has more than 1.2 billion views and 7.4 million likes on YouTube as of October 2020. Hence, it is in the top 100 most liked music videos on YouTube.
Adapted from Night Visions liner notes.
The first televised performance of "Radioactive" was executed on the September 4, 2012 airing of ABC late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The song was performed alongside then-current single "It's Time".
In February 2013, the band started the 145-dateNight Visions Tour, which saw the band perform across North America and Europe. During the North American leg, the band made their first national television appearance, performing "Radioactive" on the February 22, 2013 airing of CBS late-night talk show Late Show with David Letterman.
In addition to performing the song on the March 28, 2013 airing of NBC late-night talk show The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the band also performed "Radioactive" on the July 29, 2013 airing of NBC late-night talk show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, following the historic performance of "It's Time" to an empty audience during Hurricane Sandy on the October 29, 2012 airing of Late Night. They performed the song on Saturday Night Live with a guest performance by Kendrick Lamar on February 2, 2014, recreating their teamed performance of the song at the Grammy Awards the previous month.
Typical live performances of the song now have incorporated a drum solo and a guitar solo.
"Weird Al" Yankovic recorded a parody version entitled "Inactive" for his 2014 album Mandatory Fun. "Radioactive" was covered by American violinist Lindsey Stirling with Texan a cappella group Pentatonix and uploaded to Stirling's YouTube channel, becoming immensely successful and as of December 2018 has over 170 million views. The recording subsequently earned a 2013 YouTube Award. Jason Derulo covered the song live on BBC.Daughtry covered the song live on SiriusXM.Lady Antebellum covered the song live backstage on their Take Me Downtown Tour and put the video on their YouTube channel.Jake Bugg covered the song live on BBC Radio 1. Radioactive (The Dirty Tees Remix) Featured on the film The Host's soundtrack.
American production duo Synchronice released a melodic dubstep remix of the song which accumulated over 20,000,000 plays on Youtube and over 15,000,000 plays on their own Soundcloud page. 
Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation recorded a version on their cover album The Q-Music Sessions released in April 2013 and released again on their album Hydra. American post-hardcore band Our Last Night covered the song.Masha covered "Radioactive" on her popular YouTube channel on May 25, 2013; the video has received 130,000 views as of December 2018.The Radioactive Chicken Heads recorded a punk rock cover of "Radioactive" and released a music video for their version on YouTube.Ed Kowalczyk (of Live) covered the song for an Australian radio station. Country music artist Dallas Smith covered the song on his Tippin' Point tour.
Independent American singer Madilyn Bailey recorded an acoustic cover that reached number 36 on SNEP, the official French singles chart, in June 2015.Kelly Clarkson covered the song as part of her "Fan Requests" on July 12, 2015, during her Piece by Piece Tour.
|Australia (ARIA)||5× Platinum||350,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Platinum||30,000*|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Diamond||800,000|
|Denmark (IFPI Denmark)||4× Platinum||120,000^|
|Germany (BVMI)||5× Gold||750,000^|
|Italy (FIMI)||4× Platinum||200,000|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||3× Platinum||45,000*|
|Norway (IFPI Norway)||5× Platinum||50,000*|
|Sweden (GLF)||6× Platinum||240,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Platinum||30,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||3× Platinum||1,800,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Diamond||8,234,360|
*sales figures based on certification alone
Since May 2013 RIAA certifications for digital singles include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads.
|2013||Capricho Awards||Best International Hit||Nominated|
|MTV Video Music Awards||Best Rock Video||Nominated|
|MuchMusic Video Awards||International Video of the Year (Group)||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Rock Song||Won|
|UK Festival Awards||Anthem of the Summer||Nominated|
|2014||Billboard Music Awards||Top Hot 100 Song||Nominated|
|Top Digital Song||Nominated|
|Top Streaming Song||Won|
|Top Rock Song||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Record of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Rock Performance||Won|
|iHeartRadio Music Awards||Song of the Year||Nominated|
|International Dance Music Awards||Best Alternative/Indie Rock Dance Track||Won|
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite Song||Nominated|
|Nielsen SoundScan||United States||The 15 Most Downloaded Songs in Rock History||2015||1|
|Pandora Radio||Worldwide||Most Liked Tracks of All Time (World)||2015||3|
|Spotify||United States||Most Streamed Tracks of 2013 (U.S.)||2013||1|
|Spotify||United Kingdom||Most Streamed Tracks of 2013 (U.K.)||2013||4|
|Bing||United States||Most Searched Tracks of 2013 (U.S.)||2013||4|
|Bing||Canada||Most Searched Tracks of 2013 (CAN)||2013||5|
|Worldwide||Most Searched Songs of 2013 (World)||2013||10|
|Rdio||Worldwide||Top Global Tracks||2013||4|
|Rdio||United States||Top U.S. Tracks||2013||2|
|SoundHound||Worldwide||Top Songs of 2013||2013||7|
|105.7 The Point||United States||Top 105 of 2013||2013||1|
|106.7 KROQ||United States||KROQ's Top 50 Songs of 2013||2013||1|
|United States||October 29, 2012||Modern rock radio||Interscope||none|
|March 25, 2013||Adult contemporary radio|
|April 9, 2013||Contemporary hit radio|
|Italy||April 19, 2013||Universal|
|Germany||May 3, 2013||CD||
|Canada||June 4, 2013||Digital download
(Grouplove and Captain Cuts remix)
|Single by Imagine Dragons featuring Kendrick Lamar|
|Released||January 27, 2014|
|Imagine Dragons singles chronology|
|Kendrick Lamar singles chronology|
The Night Visions track was remixed by the band, featuring guest vocals from American rapper Kendrick Lamar. The remix, while retaining most of the original track from Continued Silence, was recorded by the band and Kendrick Lamar for release as a single. The single was released on January 27, 2014.
"Radioactive" was first performed by Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, held at the Staples Center, Los Angeles on January 26, 2014. The song was performed in a mashup with Kendrick Lamar's "M.A.A.D City", a track from his Grammy-nominated album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. It was the second most tweeted music moment of 2014. The song was performed by the duo again on the February 1, 2014 airing of NBC late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show Saturday Night Live.
|1.||"Radioactive" (featuring Kendrick Lamar)||Grant||4:43|
Partly adapted from Night Visions liner notes.
|2014||mtvU Woodie Awards||Best Collaboration Woodie||Nominated|
|Australia||January 27, 2014||Digital download|