You Get What You Give :: New Radicals
directed by Evan Bernard

You Get What You Give is a song by the New Radicals. It was an international hit, the first and most successful single from their album Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too, reaching # 30 on Billboard Hot 100 Airplay in January 1999, # 36 on the overall Hot 100 and # 8 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. The song reached # 5 in the United Kingdom and # 1 in Canada and New Zealand. It has been played over one million times on U.S. radio.

The song has been featured in the films The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Surf’s Up, and Click. It also has been featured in trailers for the films Big Daddy, The Muppets and Bubble Boy. Notably, the song was the theme for an advertising campaign used in Australia and New Zealand for Mitsubishi Motors, leading to a re-pressing of Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too with the sticker “Featuring the song from the Mitsubishi ad.” It is also the theme song used by Dr. Dean Edell and Dennis Miller on their radio shows, and has been used in promotional spots for PBS. Movistar used the song in the Latin American media in its advertising campaigns as a jingle. The song was featured in one episode of MTV animated series Daria.

The song was performed by the cast of Glee in the third season finale “Goodbye“, their performance was included on The Graduation Album soundtrack.

In a Time Magazine interview, U2 lead guitarist The Edge is quoted saying You Get What You Give is the song he is most “jealous of.” “I really would love to have written that,” he stated.

The song was listed # 440 on Blender’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born.

The song is an unofficial Newcastle United anthem and is regularly played at their home ground St James’ Park. The song was used by local radio station Metro Radio during Newcastle’s FA cup-run of 1998–99, with Mick Lowes’ commentary of Newcastle’s cup goals mixed over the song.

In the liner notes to her 2004 compilation Artist’s Choice, Joni Mitchell praises You Get What You Give for “rising from the swamp of ‘McMusic’ like a flower of hope.” Michelle Branch, Lulu, The Okay Feeling, and Martin Fry have covered this song live in concert. It was also performed by the Final 13 of Australian Idol 2005 & 2006. Both times the controversial “Health insurance…” section was omitted.

LMC released a remix of this song sampling the original Alexander vocals as LMC vs. New Radicals in 2005, under the title Don’t Let Go. Another remix entitled You Get What You Give was released in 2006, this time with a re-recorded vocal performance by Rachel McFarlane. You Get What You Give charted at No. 30 in the United Kingdom.

In 2006, Ice-T was asked on Late Night with Conan O’Brien about what he has heard, besides rap music, of late in the last few years that really grabbed him and his only reply was You Get What You Give.

In 2010, Stephen Strasburg was quoted as saying this song really inspired him to become the pitcher he has become. He said, “The simplicity of the thought, You Get What You Give, is easy to grasp and use in your day to day life.”

Singer and songwriter Gregg Alexander has been said to have written the song about people who aspire to be famous, and his cynicism toward the world of “celebrity“, saying that people should just be themselves instead of aspiring to be someone else. The video was shot at a shopping mall in New York because Gregg Alexander said it epitomized society’s fake culture of encouraging people to spend.

The closing lyrics of this song caused controversy as they accused Marilyn Monroe, Beck, Courtney Love and Hanson of being fakes and that the New Radicals will “kick their ass in.” Apparently not all of these artist held a grudge: Hanson collaborated with Gregg Alexander on their song Lost Without Each Other on the Underneath CD.

This is the first hit song to use the word “Frenemies” in the lyrics: “Frenemies, who when you’re down ain’t your friend.” The word started showing up in the late ’90s to explain those weird relationships where you could be both friends and enemies with someone at the same time, depending on the situation. “Frenemies” became the title of a book in 2007 and a movie in 2012, but many of us heard it for the first time courtesy of The New Radicals.

This is the first hit song to use the word “Frenemies” in the lyrics: “Frenemies, who when you’re down ain’t your friend.” The word started showing up in the late ’90s to explain those weird relationships where you could be both friends and enemies with someone at the same time, depending on the situation. “Frenemies” became the title of a book in 2007 and a movie in 2012, but many of us heard it for the first time courtesy of The New Radicals.

Editor’s Note: Though the song was released in November, the song itself always reminds me of Summertime, and of a particular Summer that other “Summer feeling song”, Len’s Steal My Sunshine, also reminds me of. It was a Summer of late nights sitting outside with endless cups of coffee poured and just as endless conversations about dreams for futures and once upon a past stories that always ended with that almost there, awkward “should we” kiss that never happened.

One thought on “We’ve got the dreamers disease :: VOTD

  1. I love most things about the 90s but New Radicals is not one of them. I had the misfortune of seeing them live and they played “You Get What You Give” twice. At the beginning and the end of their set.
    For some reason they were put onto a punk rock bill and only had maybe three fans in attendance. The crowd was so rude to them that I believe they sang it twice as their F*ck You to the crowd.
    End of the day however; they were the pits.

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