Kings of Leon – “Radioactive” (Video)
Kings of Leon (or “KoL”, for short) have been graced with much success in recent years. This family band (consisting of three bothers and one cousin) formed in Nashville in 1999, and have since put out four albums. Longtime fans believe the group’s current fame has been a long time coming. Their first three releases were seen in the eyes of independent music fans as alternative rock in the new decade at its best; it was gripping guitar-centered music that fans adored. Once the Kings released Only by the Night in 2008, their sound reached a mainstream audience. Singles like “Sex On Fire”, “Use Somebody”, and “Notion” were being played around the clock on Top 40 radio stations. Naturally, there was an indie crowd backlash, and a whole bunch of “selling-out” chatter. Now, as the band sets to release their next album, Come Around Sundown on October 18, many in the music community wonder if the Kings have lost the edge of their early years. The album is already receiving plenty of hype, and now that the first single for the album, “Radioactive”, has been given the music video treatment, it’s to break it down.
First off, I think the Kings, and “Radioactive”, deserve credit. I’ll spare you a long, boring speech by stating this: Musicians make music to create great art, but also to pick up a paycheck; it’s a job. Now that that’s out of the way, onto “Radioactive”. The new single begins with a vivacious bass line that bounces off the walls. Next comes the enlivening guitars that get backed up with a simplistic, but catchy drum beat. After only two, short lines of prose, the band teases a shorten chorus, only reveal the whole thing mere seconds later: “Its in the water, Its in the story of where you came from / Your sons and daughters in all their glory its gonna save her / And when they crash and come together, and start rising / Just drink the water where you came from, where you came from.” A soothing section of “Oohs” rise up twice in this tune, which the Kings have trademarked as a part of their sound in recent years. Something to point out is Caleb Followill’s lyrics in the bridge. He becomes a spokesman for the band against negative press. “So the road it was carved from yonder / Never sold yourself away.” He’s saying the band, and their music, has been great, and that they deserve to be on a path to rock greatness. But while they’re on the road, they’re trying not to become larger than life, or too big for the industry. It’s admirable; not everyone wants to be changed by fame. I think their intentions are, for the most part, pure. Anyway, the Kings do not waste any time turning on the switch in this track, and the title does justice to the song. The gospel feel at the end is just begging a sing-a-long. I could see this being a set-opener, or closer.
Now the video itself is not as animated as the title would entail. It’s merely the boys going down south and hanging with a group of school-aged, black children on a sunny afternoon, and edited with retro color filters. There’s some barbecuing, magic trickery, fishing, bicycling, and all around merriment. The band also plays in what appears to be an empty, sunlit barn. I’m not sure what’s really going on, or what they’re trying to get at, but it was probably all the director’s idea, regardless. I don’t see this as something racist, as some internet people claim. It’s just kind of an odd choice in video that doesn’t really go anywhere. At least the song is good.
Kings of Leon – “Radioactive”
Come Around Sundown is out October 18 via RCA.