New Radicals were an American pop-rock band from The '90s. The band was founded and fronted by multi-instrumentalist Gregg Alexander, who wrote and produced all their songs. The only other official or permanent member of the band was All in the Family actress Danielle Brisebois, who provided percussion, keyboards and backing vocals. The band's other members were mostly session musicians that Alexander hired song by song, and the lineup constantly shifted during their short career.
They released one album, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, in 1998. A pop-rock album drawing influences from various rock and Funk/Soul acts like Todd Rundgren, Prince and The Rolling Stones, Brainwashed was greeted with critical acclaim. It also provided the band with their only hit single, "You Get What You Give". It's one of those One Hit Wonders that you are guaranteed to hear on the radio all the time to this very day.
Alexander disbanded the group in mid-1999 out of fatigue with touring and the rock star life, declaring that he had "accomplished all of [his] goals". This greatly affected the performance of second single "Someday We'll Know", which got some airplay (and versions from Mandy Moore and Jon Foreman; along with Hall & Oates) but not enough for the band to be considered a two hit wonder. He returned to his previous job of writing and producing for other musicians. He later won a Grammy for writing Santana and Michelle Branch's "Game of Love."
After 15 years intentionally shying away from stardom, Gregg Alexander finally granted his first interview since his stint with the New Radicals in October of 2014. He also continues to collaborate with Brisebois, who has remained his musical and songwriting partner; The duo wrote the music for Begin Again, earning themselves an Oscar nomination in 2015.
To the surprise of 90s kids everywhere, on January 20th, 2021, the band briefly reunited (this time with Alexander, Brisebois and some session musicians from Philadelphia) to play "You Get What You Give" for President Joe Biden's inauguration, as a special tribute to Biden's departed son, Beau Biden, who loved the song. This was approximately 22 years after the song peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100. And for the occasion, Gregg wore the same bucket hat from the music video.
- Arc Words: "Two years ago" is mentioned consistently in the songs about breakups. The number 97 pops up every now and then due to the band being formed in that year.
- Bad to the Bone: Just how many movies, TV shows, and trailers have you heard the song "You Get What You Give" in?
- Bittersweet Ending: "Someday We'll Know," a song about The Lost Lenore is a Downer Ending, but the lyrics in the album booklet add an addendum, showing the narrator coming to terms with the relationship ending.
- Black Comedy: "I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending," a bright, spirited power ballad about doing porno films for coke and overdosing.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: A particular gem from "I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending":
- By the way this girl was sexy and she would touch youThat may not be true, but I said it so you'd feel involved with the song!
- Break-Up Song: "Someday We'll Know".
- Drugs Are Bad: The long, rambling story that is "I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending" culminates in a cocaine overdose.We went back to her kitchen, put the coke all in a can
Tied up a T.V minister, in walked her dad
He started drinking coffee—too much sugar on the go
He fell dead on the floor—he thought the coke was Sweet 'n' Low!
- Hipster: Gregg has a wry sense of humor about these kinds of people, judging by "Jehovah Made This Whole Joint for You." Circa-late 90s, of course.
- I Am the Band: Half of the sources out there refer to the band as consisting of Gregg Alexander alone. The other half consider them to be the duo of Alexander and Danielle Brisebois backed by a series of studio collaborators, a la Steely Dan.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Most of the songs feature energetic, sunshine-y guitar and melodies, even when they're talking about social change, inability to cope with a break-up, or in the case of "I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending," accidental overdoses that result in death. That said, "You Get What You Give," even with it's lyrics about mind-numbing celebrity culture distracting from real-world issues, is otherwise a straightforward Award-Bait Song, complete with lyrics about The Power of Friendship.
- Nice Hat: Alexander. He admitted that he always wore one to partially hide his complete lack of enthusiasm during live performances. He wore it again in 2021 for the reunion.
- The '90s: For as short-lived as the project was, their big single has become synonymous with the late 90s.
- Not Christian Rock: They come close in "Jehovah Made This Whole Joint For You" and "Flowers" ("As real as our god, who has spoken, on how we can fly"), which both seem like attempts to convert a drug addicted girl to christianity. It's safe to say Gregg was not serious about it - he was brought up a Jehovah's witness and hated it.
- Ode to Youth: "You Get What You Give" has a certain cynicism to the verses, but the choruses are about how even if the world is chaos, you have nothing but possibilities ahead of you.
- One-Man Band: Gregg played all the parts on "Technicolor Lover" by himself.
- One Work Author: Only released one album, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, before Gregg ended the whole project.
- Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Gregg had his moments (such as the 'won't you save me' part of I Don't Wanna Die Anymore, and the verses of "Crying Like A Church On Monday."
- Scannable Man: Several pictures on the album art have a barcode on Alexander.
- Take That!: Alexander included two verses towards the end of "You Get What You Give", one criticizing the FDA, health insurance providers and others, and the other bashing four celebrities: Beck, Hanson, Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson. By his own admission, it was an experiment to see if the media would focus on the celebrity-bashing more than the political issues of the first lines. He was right.
- "The Decency League" is one against Moral Guardians.
- The lyrics in the liner notes for the title track "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too" are completely different than the actual song on the album. The booklet lyrics, which are all a giant Take That! at society, end with "So hip, so young, so full of shit. The studio told us to shut up and write another hit." The song itself never had those lyrics, it is gibberish - this was a parody of censorship.