Dan Reynolds, who penned this song, explained its meaning:
(Radioactive) is basically a song about my struggle with anxiety and depression. Reynolds continues,
It’s about becoming self-empowered and rising above that. I wanted to write a masculine and primal song about conjuring and rising above human weakness. Reynold’s has suffered the symptoms of ADD, depression, and anxiety for his entire life.
Inspiration Behind the Song
The lyrics for this song were written after a serious bout with these disorders. As Reynold’s explained to Absolute Punk, he wrote the lyrics for this song coming out of a pretty serious spell of depression and having a new awakening and a real vigor for life. That’s the general thing where that song came from. There are more specifics to it, but that’s the basic, general idea.
Clear Meaning in the Song Lyrics
These themes are certainly made very clear in the lyrics. In the words of the song, it is very clear the lyricist is embracing changes and battling the demons of self-doubt that may occur when such changes are put into action. This is likely why the song has been used in the trailer for the video game Assassin’s Creed III and the feature film The Host.
Millions of people across the globe seemed to appreciate the lyrical content, as the song spent 24 full weeks at the #1 spot in the Billboard’s Rock Airplay chart. This 24-week residency at #1 was a record-breaking amount of time, dethroning a Foo Fighters track.