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Imagine Dragons: Radioactive Meaning


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Song Released: 2012

Radioactive Lyrics

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

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones


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    Jun 5th, 2013 6:13pm report

    Woah, woah, woah
    Woah, woah, woah
    Woah, woah, woah

    I'm waking up to ash and dust
    -Waking up to war, pollution, general destruction of the planet

    I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
    -Radiation has a scent of metal. Also, he sweating his rust. His machine like body due to repetitive, mundane work. Similar to how a robot continoulsy works. The sweating of a body that's been transformed by technology. due to possible ingested and inhaled pollutants and chemicals.

    I'm breathing in the chemicals
    - The general pollution and chemicals released in the air by the industrialized way of life. The machines, cars, factories, etc.

    I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
    -Possible workday. The feeling of being in prison on a crowded bus everyday, forced to go to work to live. To survive.

    This is it, the apocalypse
    -Humanity is on a collision course with unpreventable near apocalypse

    I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
    Enough to make my systems blow
    -He feels the downward spiral of earth and humanity; it's overwhelming

    Welcome to the new age, to the new age
    Welcome to the new age, to the new age
    Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive
    Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive
    -The human body absorbs radiation and the body itself becomes radioactive. The more nuclear power plants and radiation released into the air, the more the body absorbs. The sun also emits radiation; however, I think he is referring to man made radiation.

    I raise my flags, dye my clothes
    It's a revolution, I suppose
    We're painted red to fit right in
    -He gives up, there's no need to fight the system, it will always win. Hes painted red to fit in. The world and humanity are slowly bleeding as one, and now, so is he, also red.


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    Feb 20th, 2013 2:17am report

    I love the political undertones of this song. Just think about the symbolism to current events in the following music video.

    "Waking Up" to the actions, and defeating a certain person in a position of power... "Painted RED, to fit right in..." (Communist).

    It's a song about David vs. Goliath, the People vs. Tyrannical Government. It's a song about the INDIVIDUAL acting against "the system" to restore FREEDOM to those people in captivity of an ever-expanding government (the average American). The band is beating the drum of resistance...

    Goliath (Gov) crushes all opposition until a unique individual utilizes the full power of the Individual's hand to defeat the multiple levels of defense. This could be interpreted as voting, or more forceful measures if constitutional Rights are being violated.

    If you haven't been paying attention the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Amendments of the Constitution are under blatant attack from certain politicians right now...

    I don't think that there is any coincidence that this band, and this song specifically is gaining popularity right now... This song is a lot deeper than the catchy beat.


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    Apr 25th, 2013 4:36am report

    I personally believe this is an anti NWO song.

    I'm waking up to ash and dust,
    I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
    He's realizing that the old world as he knew it is no more and he has just been slaving away

    I'm breathing in, the chemicals.
    He's taking in the chemicals and poisons put in the air and food.

    I'm breaking in, shaping up, checking out on the prison bus.
    He realizes he is part of the prison planet.

    This is it, the apocalypse
    NWO take over

    I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones.
    Enough to make my systems blow.
    He's seeing the truth and has the internal instinct to tell him that something isn't right, and it makes his emotions explode.

    Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
    The age of the NWO

    Whoa, whoa, radioactive, radioactive
    Smalls doses of radiation won't harm you while large amounts can kill the larger body. Same with people. One person can't do much to a larger organization but a group of people can.

    I raise my flags, don my clothes
    He has picked his side to fight on.

    Its a revolution I suppose.
    He is beginning the fight against tyranny with the other "awake" people

    We'll paint it red, to fit right in, whoa
    They will fight fire with fire. The NWO sheds blood and so will they.

    All systems go, sun hasn't died.
    Deep in my bones, straight from inside.
    The revolution is on, hope hasn't died. He feels from inside that there is still hope.

    Any opinions?


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    Mar 17th, 3:15pm report

    I see this song as someone trying his hardest to fit into society. Especially with when he says "paint it red to fit right in". Red is actually a metaphor and is the color that describes society itself. Magicians have a saying "paint it red to fit right in"


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    Feb 19th, 2:55pm report

    It is about and I quote "That's basically a song about my struggle with anxiety and depression. 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"


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    Feb 19th, 2:49pm report

    It about how the new world order has cause the apocalypse and that's when the people finaly wake up and revolt


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    Jan 24th, 1:38pm report

    I think its about how you were brought down by something and now your going to stand up for yourself. You're waking up from letting your dreams or whatever crushed. And now your going to fight for what's right.


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    Dec 26th, 12:38pm report

    You guys need to wake up from your nightmare and hear what the meaning of this song really is....


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    Nov 10th, 11:05pm report

    So, I've heard that one of the songwriters is Mormon, and apparently either from Nevada or Utah.
    I'm living in Nevada so I'm very aware of arguments between red republicans and outnumbered blue dems. Contrary to common belief, there are A LOT of dem Mormons. Take Harry Reid for example.
    So I'm thinking that this is about either republicans taking over and making people use Nevada as a nuclear waste site, or Reds (commies), which many ppl think dems are. However, it could just be that painted red refers to being covered in red dirt or rust: nv has many areas with red canyons.
    They are revolting against the new age, whether it's NWO or just bad people working with Satan in general.
    I really feel that this is about a guy from NV who is being forced to work at a nuclear waste site by republicans, and is consequently covered in red dirt, in order to survive. The whole point of making nv a dump site is to revolutionize the economy, so maybe this is the only job he can get. Maybe this has isolated nv from the rest of the country; from my democratic pov, republicans seem to be trying to make nv like its own little country.
    This guy singing the song is warning Nevadans what will happen to them if they don't stop the making of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site. Yes, they'll survive (sun hasn't died means that world hasn't been destroyed yet), but they won't be living.
    Very political in meaning; if you consider imagine dragons' other songs, you'll understand that this is NOT encouraging NWO or nuclear power. I've read other people's posts; I've thought about the meaning a lot; I'm 100% sure this is a political message against the Yucca Mountain project. Everything fits, especially when I consider the songwriter's origins.


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    Oct 29th, 10:59pm report

    I think it is about people rising up and standing up for what they believe


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    Jul 18th, 2014 7:49pm report

    Anyone else get "The Walking Dead"? He talks about waking up to a new age and the main character is just waking up from a coma. Also they are breathing in the chemicals, everyone is already infected. It's the apocalypse. Painted red reminds me of when they cut up the zombie and put his blood all over them to get past all the other.


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    Jun 24th, 2014 6:15am report

    This is about them worshipping the devil, it's a very bad song and it's clear on the meaning. They believe the end is coming and they fell in with it. Painted red is the mark of the beast, the nwo has been talked about for two millennia, it's coming and they are on the side that can't win. Its sad that no one sees that, media is dangerous as this shows.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Jun 23rd, 2014 6:17pm report

    I think no one really understands meaning anymore. It's said that every artist creates something that they hold true, a deep thought, or a truth they wish to be told.

    Think closely of the words they have chosen. Could they just have written this song for fun? Or could they have written it because they know something? In these days, everything is not what it seems, there is truth behind everything, just wake up and seek it.

    Think of the words that stand out the most. Think of all the things you have seen and heard about the word today. Coincidence? I think not.

    Just wake up and think.



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    Jan 27th, 2014 1:24pm report

    Although I'm not going to put in the lyrics and the meanings for each line, I believe that I know the basic message of Radioactive.

    This song is says that the human race used to be a perfect society. But now everyone is fighting and trying to just make it. Everything is about money and there are little things that people care about that has to do with helping each other. Our world has been contaminated by greed and now we are about to suffer the consequences.


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    Jan 5th, 2014 1:08pm report

    I have three interpretations.

    A person who has woken up from a coma to Find the world has changed into a post apocalyptic world where everything is radioactive.

    We've all seen thee Matrix. Neo waking up to the truth of the world.

    Weve all seen Tomorrow when the war began. When they woke up to the fact they are the only ones left to lead the revolution


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    Jan 3rd, 2014 1:59am report

    I believe its about the NWO as well.

    "We're painted red, to fit right in"

    red is often the color of repulicans and conservatives but being catorgorized is to help keep people divided. "right wing nut jobs"

    "I'm radioactive"

    There are a number of anti-NWO radio talk shows.

    "i'm checking out of a prison bus"
    I instantly thought fema camps, where they would take all the awake.


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    Jan 1st, 2014 1:07pm report

    Radioactive pretty much means where we are now, in the "New Age." You wake up to "ash and dust", the muck and smog of our "new and better" society, and "sweat my rust" means you've been slaving away for those above you and its time to clear yourself up.
    The prison bus is what takes him around each day. (Ever seen a public bus? Pretty similar...) He's Radioactive because the world around him is tainted and ill-fated, and he shines like the morning sun in the bloody mist that will layer the Earth soon. OUR earth soon...
    "Raise my flags, dye my clothes, its a revolution I suppose" means the people are finally seeing what they've helped to create and are now choosing their side to fight.
    "Paint it red to fit right in, woah" Red, white, blue? Red is the color of blood. Blood is the color of shame and murder and death. WE will be RED white and blue...
    "All systems go, sun hasn't died, deep in my bones, straight from inside, revolution is on, hope hasn't died..." It means all systems, including US will go, but the sun will run on longer, allowing more systems to thrive. Deep in his bones, he feels that the revolution against what we've created will go on, until we are all no more...
    (Rate me! ;) )


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    Dec 4th, 2013 12:26pm report

    To me it's about "wakeing up" and seeing what is really going on and going agaist the mass for what is right...

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