"Spirit of Radio"'s highest chart achievement came in the U.K., making it to number 13 there while stalling at number 51 in the U.S. and number 33 in Rush's homeland of Canada. The song's parent album, 1980's Permanent Waves, fared much better, peaking at number four in America and number three in Britain. "Spirit of Radio" had Rush taking a break from the progressive sound that led them through the '70s, instilling some of the simplest arrangements the group has ever played. Not only did the track open up the commercial gates a bit wider, but it also helped them gain some much-needed radio attention in order to broaden the band's fan base. "Spirit of Radio" holds a muscular rock presence from the get-go, and even though the music is flashy and multi-paced, Rush still manages to get their ode to radio across. With Geddy Lee enigmatically singing about music being the freest form of expression in amongst Neil Peart's percussive acrobatics and the shiny glare of the keyboards, the song as a whole fit just right into the '80s radio rock formula. Peart isn't his astounding self, but this is one of the reasons "Spirit of Radio" works so well, proving that Rush was ready to join the ranks of pop/rock, and that 1978's "Closer to the Heart" wasn't just a trial run. "Spirit of Radio"'s tempo switches near the end, slowing down to a rock-ska bounce with Lee's voice perfectly tamed for a change -- evidence that the band didn't have to be so complex all of the time. The song became a fan favorite thanks to its familiar rhythms and easy-to-follow structure, making it one of Rush's first attempts at venturing outside of their progressive sound.