From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Radioactivity" (original German language title: "Radioaktivität") is a song written by Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider and Emil Schult, and recorded by electronic band Kraftwerk as the title track of their 1975 album Radio-Activity.
"Radioactivity" has remained a regular part of Kraftwerk's live sets over the years. On its original performances in 1976, the band tried out an experimental light-beam operated "percussion cage", where Wolfgang Flür attempted to trigger electronic drum sounds by interrupting light beams using arm gestures. This system was temperamental and frequently failed.
Lyrically, the 1975 version of the song plays upon the meaning of its title, with the line "Discovered by Marie Curie" juxtaposed with "Tune in to the melody". While the original does not offer a value judgement on the safety of radioactivity, the 1991 version drops all references to radio and incorporates additional lyrics with a pointed anti-nuclear theme, remaking the central lyrical hook as "stop radioactivity" and also referring to "contaminated population" and mentioning by name Chernobyl, Harrisburg, Sellafield and Hiroshima. The band performed it at the "Stop Sellafield" concert in 1992. It was further remixed, for subsequent single release, by William Orbit and François Kevorkian.