"That's basically a song about my struggle with anxiety and depression," Reynolds says. "It's about becoming self-empowered and rising above that. I wanted to write a masculine and primal song about conjuring and rising above...
Whoa, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh
Whoa

I'm waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I'm breathing in the chemicals

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive

I raise my flags, don my clothes
It's a revolution, I suppose
We'll paint it red to fit right in
Whoa

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive

All systems go, the sun hasn't died
Deep in my bones, straight from inside

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive


Lyrics submitted by morfinx, edited by MollyTheCursed, paperbakwriter09, katievanish, shadela16, k0nane, deathboundwinds, WesleyD3, Skeether, katneidig, skyfire84, bones911, lyricfixer, MiniUSB, kk1010, lockbird, bradch, phabicht, LyricalMongral, Coolio831, cailin33, Jmann3000, REALREDHEAD, ji hun1069, codehead

"Radioactive" as written by Kendrick Lamar, Joshua Mosser, Alexander Junior Grant, Benjamin Mckee, Daniel Reynolds, Daniel Sermon

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Radioactive song meanings
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  • +30
    My InterpretationI strongly believe this song "Radioactive" is about the singer's realization of the power within himself. "I'm waking up through ash and dust." to me says that he is shaking off all the preconceived notions that all the people in his life had for him. "Breathing in the chemicals" to me signifies the getting charged over the positivity of all that life has to offer. When he mentions the apocalypse, I feel he means that today he must make a decision to either change and succeed or do nothing and become like everyone else. "I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones, (enough) to make my systems go, welcome to the new age..." Yes he actually says "enough" but nonetheless I feel that he accepts he will change for the better and rejoices in that decision.

    "I'm radioactive!" shows nothing will stop him from succeeding, nothing will get in his way and he will succeed.

    The song's video with the little bear victoriously fighting off the monster further illustrates this point.

    Furthermore, Imagine Dragons song "It's time" also talks about moving forward and bettering yourself.
    JimWalshJon January 16, 2013   Link
  • +14
    General CommentReynolds explained the song's meaning to MTV News: "'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," he said. "A lot of people hear it in a dark way, but, I think, without saying the word too many times, it's empowering, and so we wanted to display that in a way that the listener wouldn't see normally."

    I think this may have originally come from a feeling of over coming a heavy past. I don't think his point was to be political, or even talk about drugs. I can definitely see depression. But a lot of this sounds like coming out of an obviously poisonous situation and getting up and finally seeing and feeling the need for change.
    hedstrongon March 18, 2013   Link
  • +10
    Lyric CorrectionI believe that its
    "enough to make my system blow"
    not "love to make my system go"
    cmarlin09on September 06, 2012   Link
  • +8
    General CommentIt's not about an apocalypse, it's about spiritual awakening. The spiritual awakening process sparks the activation of awareness and once someone have completed their spiritual awakening and they go and look back on their life before the awakening began they may see how much they were just existing in robot mode, a spiritual awakening brings them out of this robot mode and in to awareness mode which wakes them up and they start to exist with a new and positive lease of life.
    December 21, 2012 marks Earth’s entrance into a new stage in the evolution of human consciousness. There is a mass of "awakenings" occurring seen in highly sensitive creative individuals. They can be very outspoken and tend to go against the grain of main society and have always felt like outcasts. They are unwilling to conform to societies standards if it isn’t congruent with the way they believe things should be done. While they may attempt to go with the flow, they cannot suppress how against the “system” they really are, and simply cannot and will not accept things that do not make sense to them.

    Break down:

    I'm waking up to ash and dust,
    I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust,
    I'm breathing in, the chemicals.
    (This is in regards to the fluoride, Monsanto, GMO's etc. in our bodies. Fluoride for example calcifies the pineal gland in our brain "our third eye", blocking our path to higher consciousness)

    I'm breaking in, shaping up, checking out on the prison bus.
    This is it, the apocalypse, whoa.
    (Not apocalypse end of world, but end of old world consciousness//beliefs. Starting to "wake up" entering a stage of higher consciousness, the "New Age")

    I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones.
    Enough to make my systems blow.
    (Symptoms of "awakening")

    Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    (New Age: A movement drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational psychology, holistic health, parapsychology, consciousness research and quantum physics)

    Whoa, whoa, radioactive, radioactive.
    Whoa, whoa, radioactive, radioactive.
    (Radioactivity has everything to do with energy.According to quantum physics, we are part of a vast, invisible field of energy, which contains all possible realities and responds to our thoughts and our feelings. Related to The Law of Attraction, The Law of Vibration, each frequency of vibration has a certain radiation )

    I raise my flags, don my clothes,
    It's a revolution I suppose.
    We'll paint it red, to fit right in, whoa.
    (Realizing all the awakenings lately, in songs, media, movies, joining the new age revolution)
    I'm breaking in, shaping up, checking out on the prison bus.
    This is it, the apocalypse, whoa.

    I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones.
    Enough to make my systems blow.
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    Whoa, whoa, radioactive, radioactive.
    Whoa, whoa, radioactive, radioactive.

    All systems go, sun hasn't died.
    Deep in my bones, straight from inside.


    I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones.
    Enough to make my systems blow.
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    Whoa, whoa, radioactive, radioactive.
    Whoa, whoa, radioactive, radioactive.
    kathudsonon June 09, 2013   Link
  • +8
    General Commentit's a dark bittersweet yet hopeful song. it's how someone feels when they are coming out of depression & things are brighter. you are hopeful & you know that since you went through what you went through, you are different & there is something different about you. a new strength that you didn't have before.
    the "new age" is the age after your dark time/hole of depression.
    it is bright & a new chapter in your life. you have broken free & hope to not get there again & even then, you have survived so you know you are strong & you fought this fight & came out a veteran even of you have a codition where it can come back sometimes.
    thats just how i see it. a hopeful song
    leavesintheriveron September 13, 2013   Link
  • +6
    Song Meaning"I'm waking up to ash and dust,
    I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust,
    I'm breathing in, the chemicals. "

    The singer is recognizing a toxic atmospher. He's not implying negativity on his part, so much as negativity in his surroundings

    "I'm breaking in, shaping up, checking out on the prison bus."

    This is him preparing to break free from that aforementioned atmospher. Prison implying that something is controling him against his will.

    "This is it, the apocalypse, whoa."

    The apocalypse, the end of the era, or the end of the situation.



    "I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones.
    Enough to make my systems blow." (It's actually glow, not blow, meaning he's gaining strength)

    He is awakened to the negative surrounding/situation, and he feels enough strength to break free.

    "Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age."

    This is intresting, the new age is a 20th century spritual movement. (a positive spiritual movement, implying he's creating or aiding in the movement for change and positivity)

    Whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive.
    Whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive.

    Radiation is toxic to humans but this is not literal. Being radioactive means that an energy is emitted, releasing a stream of particals from an instable atom. being Radioactive means he's being liberated from something instable (Negative connotation implied) Very creative way of saying that =D

    I raise my flags, don my clothes,
    It's a revolution I suppose.
    We're painted red, to fit right in, whoa.

    Raising flags and doning clothes is a sign of independence from the negative influence
    Revolution- literal, it's a war for independence. painted red, to fit right in, is saying how they are being labled for not conforming.

    All systems go, sun hasn't died.
    Deep in my bones, straight from inside.

    All systems go- He's ready for whatever comes his way
    Sun hasnt died--theres hope for the cause
    Deep in my bones, straight from inside- he's got the strength.

    **Think about the world we live in, think about our controling and corrupted government, think about what the future holds without a change.
    Think this song is a coincidence? I dont, and I absolutly LOVE the message it's sending.

    DFoxon September 02, 2013   Link
  • +5
    General CommentIt's definitely "enough to make my system blow" not "love to make my systems go." Currently addicted to this song, btw.
    conanaonon January 02, 2013   Link
  • +5
    Song MeaningThe lead singer said, in an interview, that it was about when you come out of depression and you have to start over completely. You have to try not to slip back into depression, and you basically feel stronger but even more broken at the same time.
    justme1999on May 20, 2013   Link
  • +4
    Song MeaningHe use to do drugs but is recovering "I'm breathing in, the chemicals"

    "I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus"
    He's shaping up, breaking bad habits, cause he doesn't wan't to go back to prison, I mean why else would he just randomly be on a prison bus?

    "I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones.
    Enough to make my systems blow.
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    Whoa, whoa, radioactive, radioactive.
    Whoa, whoa, radioactive, radioactive."

    He's waking up from coke or from that bad life (which ever one it is) welcoming him self to a better life and radioactive, that like pretty much sums it up
    twixboy808on September 22, 2013   Link
  • +4
    My OpinionI personally think that this song can be whatever you want it to mean, but I think it's about waking up to darkness and hopelessness after going through a great time.
    RiseAgainstFanBoyon October 02, 2013   Link

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