The seeds of Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity album were sown when the group came across an issue of Billboard magazine featuring a section listing songs that were most frequently being played on the radio with the heading of "Radio Activity."
The title track was the first song recorded by Kraftwerk in English. It was released as a single in most European territories and the US, and was a #1 hit in France after it was used as the theme to a popular music show..
The song plays upon the meaning of its title, with the line "Discovered by Madame Curie" juxtaposed with "Tune in to the melody."
Examining the nature of uranium rays, Polish scientist Marie Curie spent several years grinding, dissolving, filtering, crystallizing tons of uranium waste while constantly exposed to its radioactivity. She eventually isolated a tenth of a gram of pure radium from eight tons of pitchblende ore in 1902. Curie died in 1934, a victim of the radiation she worked with in her laboratory.
The song was later re-recorded by Kraftwerk for their 1991 album The Mix. It was further remixed, for subsequent single release, by William Orbit and François Kevorkian. While the original did not offer a value judgment on the safety of radioactivity, the 1991 version omitted all references to radio, remaking the central lyrical hook as "stop radioactivity" and adding additional anti-nuclear lyrics that mentioned by name Chernobyl, Harrisburg, Sellafield and Hiroshima.