You probably wouldn’t know it — what with its arching guitars, soaring vocals and expansive, windswept breakdown — but “Radioactive,” the first single from the Kings of Leon’s just-released Come Around Sundown, is by no means “anthemic” or “stadium-friendly.”
At least according to Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill it’s not. Shoot, the way he talks about the song, it’s barely even a single.
“I didn’t think it would be a single, let alone the first one. I mean, the vocal, I mess up on the first verse, I mess up on the second verse, I mean, my voice is off, so I really didn’t think the label would want that as a single, but they wanted it first,” he laughed. “I don’t know, I think at this point, we could do something with me tapping my foot and singing into a can and [critics] would be like, “Oh, it’s so anthemic” or “Oh, it’s so stadium-friendly.” ”
Railing against the band’s critics has become a rather popular pastime for Followill these days, especially given the swing-for-the-fences nature of Sundown, an album that aims to be all things to all people and does so without the slightest shred of regret. The Kings have clearly enjoyed the hard-fought success they found with 2008’s massive Only by the Night, and they’re not about to let it slip away.
So while “Radioactive” might not have been his choice as Sundown’s first single, Followill will proudly admit that he’s been following its chart performance closely. After all, he’ll be the first to tell you that there’s a lot riding on its success.
“Actually, my e-mails weren’t working, and so I wasn’t getting any updates on anything about the record, and then finally, one day, like, 85 e-mails came in, and I read one of them, and it was like ” “Radioactive” is #1 after three weeks on Modern Rock,” ” he recalled. “I had been sitting there like, “Man, our record’s not doing good. We’ve lost it,” and I had no idea … so, yeah, I’m happy.”
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