Kings of Leon: Radioactive

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Posted October 21, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

New single, video finds the Kings of Leon embracing Southern charm, U2 spirituality and “We Shall Overcome” energies

With a new album in stores (Come Around Sundown), the Southern rock band – now inheriting rock star status – is hoping to keep the fires burning from their best-selling  Only By the Night LP and the unavoidable radio hit single “Use Somebody.” “Radioactive” is the band’s careful follow-up. It’s careful in so many ways, since it conjures the same buoyancy and emotionalism, even if it takes on a much more spiritual affirmation. It sounds as if the Kings of Leon intentionally decided to tread on U2’s spirituality, like Bono and the Edge did on The Joshua Tree. This is best evidenced in the lyric: “When the roll is called up yonder/I hope you see me there/It’s in the water/It’s where you came from”).

The Followill brothers are seen in the single’s concept video rediscovering their Tennessee outbacks. With the same hazy yellow hue decorating their new album cover, the video’s scenery highlights the band interacting with a cluster of African-American children dressed in school uniforms. The Kings play with them, eats with them and even sings with them. Towards the end – when the choir builds up on the chorus – the Sunday morning energies are highlighted with a children’s chorus rocking and clapping to the rock hymn. Some may get a bit uncomfortable with the nostalgia-like images of the video (now being expressed through viewers’ comments on the video’s YouTube page) and will begin to question why the Kings decided to go in this direction for their video, but “Radioactive” and its companion video pushes them away from being branded as being “too safe.” By the way, the only people probably complaining about the video itself are probably antsy Tea Party cardholders. It’s a job well done for the Kings.  Even with their Southern pride, the band won’t have to rely so much on their grassroots campaigning to score a hit with this one.

J MATTHEW COBB

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About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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