Let’s face it. There are always going to be bands who hit the airwaves with a catchy tune, and then fade as if they never existed in the first place. These types of acts are a dime for twelve (is that how it goes?)
In the mid to late 90s, there were a shocking amount of these bands on radio stations all over the nation. Every week, it seemed, there was another catchy tune, only to be replaced by two more the next week. The airwaves were literally jam packed with tunes that were fun, harmless, and actually, pretty damn good.
One of these bands was The New Radicals. Trust me, you’d know them if you heard the song. Their main claim to fame was “You Get What You Give,” an absolute gem of a pop song that hit radio stations in 1998. It was the Citizen Kane effect. They had started at the top, a hit song, and now, what was to come?
Actually, nothing. Their first album ended up being their only album. This album is absolutely chock full of great songs. It’s akin to a professional football player playing one play, scoring a touchdown, and then just walking off the field. Years later, everyone wonders what happened to that guy who scored the touchdown on his first play.
Here’s what happened to the band. They broke up before their second single from the album was even released. Chances are, if you’re around my age, you’ve even heard “Someday We’ll Know” at some point, probably in middle school. And that was it. One album, one major hit, and they faded away.
The album “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too” is phenomenal start to finish. I didn’t get the album (released in 1998) until 2000, so I was a bit late getting to the party. 15-year old me didn’t exactly understand the album, but with subsequent years, the album has grown and grown on me into one of my favorites.
It’s starts out with “Mother, We Just Can’t Get Enough,” and had this song seen decent radio airplay back in 1998-99, I think it would have provided another strong showing for this band to the public. It’s upbeat, funky, smart, and tight. It’s a great summer driving with the windows down song.
The second song is the aforementioned “You Get What You Give,” and it’s a pop song that has aged timelessly. It’s catchy and fun, but it also has a quick wit and an intelligence behind it. You probably know it from the ending lyrics, involving Marilyn Manson, Courtney Love, Beck, and Hanson, and that is exactly what singer/songwriter Gregg Alexander intended. Right before those lyrics are lyrics about topical, global issues, yet these were the issues our society decided to focus on. It’s really a smart play by Alexander.
“I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore” is a much slower effort than the first two songs, but it’s another where the lyrical strength powers the song. It shows a change of pace, and leads right into the poppy “Jehovah Made This Whole Joint For You”, which is easily one of the catchier songs I’ve ever heard in my life. This track is followed by the short lived second single, “Someday We’ll Know,” another slower song with strong lyrics.
The title track is unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and to this day, I’m in love with the uniqueness of that song. It’s grimy and dirty sounding, and very methodical, but Alexander does a lot of the work. He’s not a strong singer, per se`, but he knows how to use his voice.
This album covers so many genres and spans so many subjects that it’s impossible to anticipate the next song’s topic or tone. The next four songs again return to the upbeat, poppier genre, but hardly lose any of their zest.
If you only know of this band through their one radio hit, do yourself a favor and check out their entire album. It’s got a unique and diverse sound, and it has aged incredibly well in the last decade. Actually, I would guarantee you if this album came out this year, the New Radicals would be an indie music sensation. Listen to this album, and listen often. Listen to lyrics that are just as apt a decade later and ask yourself, “Why couldn’t this band have stuck around just a little bit longer?!”
Score: 9.75/10 (Excellent!)