I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
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Caesars Palace in Las Vegas
(thanks, Ron Reiring)
Whether you're a fan of Stephenie Meyer counting the seconds ‘til the release of the latest Meyer-movie adaptation The Host
, an avid player of video games like Assassins Creed III
, or a SyFy Channel geek waiting for the premiere of Defiance
, chances are you've heard the dubstepping, apocalyptic beats of “Radioactive” by a relatively obscure band out of Las Vegas – Imagine Dragons.
Vegas, arguably the party capital of the world, is renowned for its casinos, night clubs, neon-lit Strip, and glamorous debauchery. Ironically, the area was originally settled by Mormon farmers in the 19th Century before becoming home to the first of US Army forts. But that's not the Vegas most people know today. Thanks largely to the business acumen of Howard Hughes, the city boomed after his arrival in the 1960s when legitimate businesses began to replace previously mob run casinos and clubs. Today Vegas is a tourist hot spot with a reputation for glitz, glamour, and celebrity quickie weddings. It's not easy to stand out in a city so saturated by artists and musicians trying to make a name for themselves, and yet Imagine Dragons managed to beat the odds and carve a place for themselves in the dust of Nevada.
Thanks largely to the ubiquitous use of “Radioactive,” Imagine Dragons has become a household name even inspiring the likes of Lindsey Sterling and Pentatonix to cover their flagship single. Since the song has been used for a variety of TV shows from Jimmy Kimmel Live
to Inside Combat Rescue
on the National Geographic Channel, movie trailers and even soundtracks for video games, “Radioactive” has shot up the charts, reaching #1 on both the Billboard Alternative Songs and Billboard Rock Songs charts.
Imagine Dragons – an anagram of words only the band members know – started out in early 2008, formed by 4Th generation Nevadan Dan Reynolds while at BYU in Utah. Dan is the only founding member of the band left in the group that went on to record at Battle Barn Studios before finally signing a record with Interscope in 2011. In 2012 the band entered Studio X at the fifth most expensive hotel in the world: Palms Casino Resort, located near the Las Vegas Strip. It was here, with the aid of Grammy Award-winning producer Alex da Kid, that Imagine Dragons finished recording the album that would make them international rock stars.Night Visions,
the name of which is inspired by the band’s favorite time of night - twilight - debuted at #2 on the US Billboard 200, selling more than 80,000 copies within its first week. The album also did well outside of the States, reaching Top Ten album status in Canada, Austria, Germany and Norway. As of February 2013, the album has been certified gold in Canada, Norway, and Sweden, as well as in the United States. Both “Radioactive” and another single from the album, “It's Time,” have peaked above the #15 spot in the US Billboard Hot 100.
Imagine Dragons owes it meteoric rise not only to clever marketing strategies but also to the quality of their music. Night Visions
is an eclectic mix using dubstep beats, ethnic percussion, and heavy rock riffs to accompany Reynolds' lazy voice, which seems to appeal to rock, pop, and even country fans. “Radioactive” borrows more notably from dubstep, with a whomping bass line driving the song through the apocalyptic verses to the stadium rock chorus.
It is perhaps the eclectic nature of their music that has catapulted Imagine Dragons to the top of the charts. Their sound is fresh, appreciated by fans of both traditional rock and 21st Century electronica. And perhaps the band is aware of their crossover appeal, considering the repetitive chorus line “Welcome to the new age.” Perhaps the band is right and their brand of fusion electro-rock heralds a new era in popular music.
~ Suzanne van Rooyen
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