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Members include Gregg Alexander (born on May 14, 1970, in Grosse Pointe, MI), vocals, guitar; Danielle Brisebois (born on June 28, 1969, in Brooklyn, NY), vocals, keyboards.
Multi-platinum alternative-pop group The New Radicals was essentially an experiment for songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gregg Alexander. He wrote an album's worth of songs, got a loose group of ever-changing band members to record the album and back him up on tour, scored a huge hit single with the late 1990s anthem "You Get What You Give," and before the band ever had a chance to be forgotten, he disbanded the group. For the just under two years that The New Radicals were together, the only permanent members of the band were singer Alexander and keyboardist Danielle Brisebois. After calling it a day with The New Radicals, Brisebois recorded her second solo album wrote songs for other artists and Alexander produced and wrote songs for a number of popular singers.
Born on May 14, 1970, in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, Gregg Alexander grew up with an eclectic taste in music, which he often credited to the well-rounded Detroit radio stations. While many of his peers had pocketfuls of money, Alexander worked hard to make his own money while being raised by his plumber father and Jehovah's Witness mother. "When I was 12, I saved up for an electric guitar and had a teen epiphany," Alexander stated in The New Radicals official MCA bio. He played in various bands, and by 15 had saved enough money for a four-track recorder. He was very influenced and moved by the music he heard in Detroit, from punk and rock to R&B. "The spirit of Detroit radio was powerful, it's such a segregated town, like legal apartheid, to the point that you can feel the soul and pain and spirit in the faces," Alexander stated in his biography.
At 17, Alexander took a handful of songs and his guitar and moved to Los Angeles, California to try and make it in the music business. He went around from record label to record label before he eventually signed a deal to release his debut solo album, Save Me From Myself in 1989. He followed that up with 1991's Intoxifornication for Epic Records. The records never really went anywhere and instead of touring, he spent time traveling Europe and the United States. He also began to write songs for other artists. In 1993, Alexander co-wrote the song "Here Comes My Baby" for former The Go-Go's singer Belinda Carlisle.
Alexander soon began to write a collection of classic '70s-sounding pop songs that echoed his eclectic taste in music. While living in L.A., he signed a deal with MCA in 1997 for a band project he would call The New Radicals. Alexander got a group of musicians together to record the songs that he wrote, produced and arranged almost entirely himself. His goal was to keep himself the center of The New Radicals, and hire various members (who would continually change) to back him up. The only other semi-permanent member of the band would be former child actress Danielle Brisebois (TV's All in the Family) whom Alexander had previously worked with. "I'm the one who needs to make sure [my vision] doesn't get watered down," Alexander told Rolling Stone about his unorthodox band. "But it's open. If someone's drunk mom comes onstage and wants to play congas with us, that's a possibility."
In October of 1998, MCA released The New Radicals album Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too. The record had a slow start until the spring of 1999 when the single "You Get What You Give" began to take off. The irresistibly catchy pop track became a staple on the radio and MTV; the infectious song was a time capsule of the late '90s, and a jab at consumerism and celebrity.
The enthusiastic video for "You Get What You Give" was shot in one day at a Staten Island Mall. Alexander and the current drummer were the only real members of the band in the video; the rest were hired actors. In the music video, Alexander leads a group of teens to wreak havoc in the mall, caging businessmen and flipping off authority. It was a feel good song, but it also took a shot at some of the late '90s most popular bands. "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," was just one of the many lines of the single.
Rolling Stone's Allison Stewart called "You Get What You Give," "A rant against consumerism, health insurances companies and soulless rock stars...." Alexander responded to Stewart, "It's a snapshot of our times. If people want to drive a car into me for it, then that's their prerogative." There was no denying that "You Get What You Give" was a perfect pop song. David Wild of Rolling Stone heralded the track when he called it, "....melt-in-your-mouth ear candy, vaguely reminiscent of the opinionated power pop of the woefully underattended World Party, but with a passionate oddball bounce all its own."
A spring tour with the Goo Goo Dolls and massive radio play catapulted The New Radicals into stardom. The rest of the album was a hodge-podge of musical styles. Alexander described the sound of the record to Rolling Stone as "...what happens when you have 8,000 messages flying through your head at once." While some overanalyzed the meanings behind "You Get What You Give," as Alexander told Rolling Stone, it was just about making a great pop song; ..."at the end of the day, people hear you on the radio on the drive home after they just got their heart broken and they have a feel for your song, maybe. And that's what really matters."
In the summer of 1999, The New Radicals filmed a video for the album's second single "Someday We'll Know," which received moderate airplay. Just before the video was to air however, Alexander released a statement to the press that announced the dissolvement of the band. On July 12, 1999, Alexander was quoted in Billboard, where he stated The New Radicals "will no longer be a recording, promoting, or performing entity." Alexander announced that he wanted to focus on his own production company and writing songs for other artists. He had played the part of the pop star and had his fill as he told MTV.com, "It was an experience playing the artist, but I accomplished all of my goals with this record, and I'm ready to move on and make the next step in my career."
One of Alexander's first post-New Radicals projects was to produce and write for former band mate Brisebois' sophomore album (he worked on her first) in 1999. He followed with credits on the debut album by Ronan Keating, a former member of Irish boy band Boyzone, in 2000 and continued to work with Keating through his 2005 album Ronan Keating.
Alexander began to write hit pop songs for a variety of artists (often under the pseudonym Alex Ander) including former Spice Girl's Geri Halliwell and Melanie C.'s solo albums. Ironically, Alexander ended up writing a tune for the group Hanson, whom he poked fun at in "You Get What You Give." While his face was out of the spotlight, Alexander quietly became a sought after pop songwriter in the 2000s. He even won a Grammy for penning the 2002 Santana and Michelle Branch duet "The Game of Love." In 2005, Alexander spent time writing with Dave Wakeling; formerly of the '80s band The English Beat.
In addition to her sophomore solo album Portable Life, Brisebois too began to make her name as a songwriter. In 2003, Brisebois co-wrote a song on Kelly Clarkson's debut album and in 2004, wrote the title track to Natasha Bedingfield's album Unwritten.
by Shannon McCarthy
The New Radicals's Career
Group formed in Los Angeles by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gregg Alexander, 1997; released one album for MCA Records, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, 1998; disbanded, 1999; Brisebois recorded Portable Life, RCA, 1999; Alexander wrote and produced pop songs for Ronan Keating, Geri Halliwell and others, won a Grammy for the Santana song "The Game of Love," 2002.
- Selected discography
- Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too MCA, 1998.
- Billboard, July 24, 1999.
- "Danielle Brisebois," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (August 20, 2005).
- MCA Records, http://www.mcarecords.com (August 20, 2005).
- "The New Radicals," Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com (August 20, 2005).
The New Radicals Lyrics
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