You Get What You Give
b/w "To Think I Thought"
Released 10 November 1998
Produced by Gregg Alexander
Written by Gregg Alexander & Rick Nowels
In the annals of rock history, there have been plenty of memorable "one hit wonders." And although the term must gall many musicians - particularly those who have made the profession their life's work - if you were in that position wouldn't it be great if your particular song had been praised by artists as noted and varied as The Edge, Ice-T and Joni Mitchell?
In 1997, Michigan native Gregg Alexander (nee Gregory Aiuto) had two ignored solo records in the rear view mirror and was busking in Central Park in New York City. But somehow he configured New Radicals, meant to be a revolving door band with no permanent members save for long-time collaborator (and former child TV star) Danielle Brisebois, and landed a one album deal with MCA Records. Using the $600,000 advance, the band cut the long player Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, which went on to sell over a million copies.
The trigger for that avalanche of sales was the lead single, "You Get What You Give." It is a rousing youth anthem questioning authority and calling out celebrity excess (the lyrics name Beck, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson). While the song did create controversy in that regard, the reason for its success was clearly its irresistible rhythm. Anchored by a distorted piano, driving electric guitar and steady drum beat, Alexander screams the classic "1, 2, 3, 4" downbeat and delivers a passionate, call-to-arms vocal, reassuring the listener that even When the night is falling/And you cannot find the light/If you feel your dream is dying/Hold tight/You've got the music in you.
Over ten years later, when "You Get What You Give" comes on the radio, the listener is still moved to turn the volume up to the higher ranges, because as long as there's one dance left, the world is going to pull through. Indeed, U2's The Edge, when asked in 2006 to identify which song he was most jealous of, indicated "Oh. Easy. . . I would love to have written that. Great Music, great energy." And no less the poet laureate of TNOP, Miss Joni Mitchell, selected the song to her eclectic list in the Artist's Choice CD series, citing "You Get What You Give" as "rising from the swamp of 'McMusic' like a flower of hope."
The band configured by Gregg Alexander were scheduled to begin a world tour in May 1999, but instead New Radicals were disbanded without much explanation. Alexander would resurface on the music scene in 2003, authoring "The Game of Love," a Grammy award winning song recorded by Santana and Michelle Branch.
The original video of New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" can be viewed here.