CULTURE / New Radicals - You Get What You Give - 20 years on the meaning behind the song

20 years ago….wow….it’s been 2 decades!
New Radicals You Get What You Give
posted 03 December 2018 09:03am updated 03 December 2018 10:13am

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You Get What You Give

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New Radicals were an American pop rock band that were only active for 2 years, hailing from Los Angeles. Their debut, and final record, ‘Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too’ released in 1998 quickly topped charts across the UK, USA, and Europe thanks to the catchy hit song, ‘You Get What You Give’.

‘You Get What You Give’ was released November 10th 1998 via MCA Records.

Considering the song itself was particularly upbeat, and the video seemed to show kids running riot through an American shopping mall, singer Gregg Alexander said he actually wrote the lyrics to address certain political and social issues affecting the country at the time. Many people assumed he as actually attacking famous artists such as Marilyn Manson, Beck, Hanson, and Courtney Love.

In an interview with MTV back in 1999, Gregg Alexander told MTV journalist GIANNI-SIBILLA about the meaning behind the song.

Alexander said the track was meant not as an intentional slam of the rockers cited but rather as an experiment in mixing together real issues and big names, to see which the media would focus on.

I don't have a strong view on any of the artists mentioned in the song - Alexander said.

The "real issues" cited in the song are expressed in such lyrics as "Health insurance rip-off lying/ FDA big bankers buying/ Fake computer crashes dining/ Cloning while they're multiplying."


"Health insurance, rip-off lying, FDA, big bankers buying, Fake computer crashes dining, Cloning while they're multiplying, Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson, You're all fakes, run to your mansions, Come around, we'll kick your ass in."

"There's this whole hysteria and curiosity over peripheral stupidity instead of focusing on real issues," Alexander continued. "And a lot of people I talked to asked me about those real things, while a lot of rock media tried to turn it into a cat fight."

"I heard about [shock rocker Marilyn] Manson's reaction, but I think it's based on a misunderstanding of the lyrics," Alexander added.

"In a place like America, when you're talking about something that's real, it's more difficult," he added. "If I had louder guitars and if I did the negativity thing I'd probably be selling more records."

So, 20 years on, are the topics still relevant? It appears that like most social and political statements expressed by left wing artists standing up for the little man don’t seem to change a great deal. These issues are still present today, most of them appear to be very cyclical as the liberal left push forward and dominate, only to be crushed by ridiculous right wing politics such as the election of something called a ‘Donald Trump’.

WATCH / New Radicals - You Get What You Give


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