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You Get What You Give – New Radicals

You Get What You Give by New RadicalsI don’t care what anyone says: “You Get What You Give” is the single greatest pop song of the 1990s. For sure it’s the greatest pop song of 1990. It’s that good. And that timeless. To my ears, it sounds like it was released in 1974 by Todd Rundgren. Or 1980 and “Set Me Free” by Utopia. Or 1984 by World Party, owners of a one-hit wonder in “Ship of Fools.” Or 1998 by New Radicals in a throwback to the great power pop bands of the 1970s and 1980s.

Gregg Alexander, front man of New Radicals, is an exceptional singer-songwriter with a gift for a killer and distinctive hook. Besides “You Get What You Give,” Alexander also wrote “The Game of Love” by Santana and Michelle Branch that earned Alexander a Grammy Award in 2003. And he wrote “Inner Smile” by Texas that was used in the popular film, Bend It Like Beckham.

Listen to both songs closely and you’ll hear distinctive Gregg Alexander vocal trademarks like a soaring vocal line within the chorus. Brilliant, joyous stuff.

Click to hear more Grammy Award one-hit wonders

As for New Radicals, they released a single album titled Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too. It was a big hit and sold over 1 million copies turning it into a Platinum record. Not all of the record is perfect, but the good songs like “You Get What You Give” and “Someday We’ll Know” and “Mother We Just Can’t Get Enough” are terrific tunes. “You Get What You Give” only reached #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, but those who heard the song embraced it and still love it to this day.

As for “You Get What You Give,” here is a short list of its honors:

  • Over one million plays on U.S. radio
  • #440 on Blender’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born”
  • #64 on VH1’s list of the Greatest One-hit Wonders of All-Time”
  • #90 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the 90s”

New Radicals broke up after a single album, forever locking them in as a 90’s one-hit wonder. But I’ll say it again: “You Get What You Give” is the single greatest pop song of the 1990s. If you disagree, let’s hear your winner.

Listen to You Get What You Give

Bonus songs by Gregg Alexander

Listen to Game of Love by Michelle Branch

Listen to Inner Smile by Texas

Written by

I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

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5 Responses to "You Get What You Give – New Radicals"

  1. Matt Thurston says:

    I think the singer sounds like Mick Jagger.

    Agree it’s in the running for best song of the 90s. But would be tough for me to put it ahead of the following:

    “You Oughta Know” by Alanis
    “One” by U2
    “Enter Sandman” by Metalica
    “MMM Bop” by Hanson
    “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
    “Run Around” by Blues Traveller

    And, though it wasn’t a big hit in the U.S., it was a huge hit in the U.K. (#1): “Brimful of Asha” by Cornershop.

  2. Michael Waterman says:


    I should clarify my pick: best one-hit wonder pop song of the 1990s (at least 1990). Your choices are all solid, but virtually every band on your list is disqualified due to their ongoing success of hitting the Billboard Top 40 more than once. Bonus points for Brimful of Asha, however.

  3. Bill Carson says:

    This song “you get what you give” sounds like a retro cover song from the 80’s because it is. The original that I remember well would have come out in 80, 81 or 82 I believe. I was 10-12 years old and it was played on the radio a good bit even though it wasn’t a huge hit. I came across this site because I am again on one of my endless searches to figure out who did the original, still no luck. It appears that somehow I am the only person in the world who remembers the original being played on air in the early 80’s. Alexander gets credit for writing the song on the CD cover and on Wikipedia. I’m sure the marilyn manson and hanson comments were added by him but other than that it’s the same melody and same lyrics. I love listening to the new radicals version but I am still dying to hear the original again that I would listen to as I did my paper route, on headphones, back when walkman’s were the new thing. If my quest comes to an end I will post back here. Can anyone help? Please, my brain is blowing up!!! No, really!!!

  4. Michael Waterman says:


    I’m a huge fan of “You Get What Your Give” and the song sounded amazingly familiar the first time I heard it, but I can’t offer any help on a prior version. I’m pretty sure it was written by Greg Alexander…it seems like with the internet, it would be really difficult to hide an original version…if an original version actually existed.

    Good luck in your search. If you uncover the same melody in a song or similar lyrics, definitely let us know. I would love to hear it.

  5. Pete says:

    I am 10 years older than you and when I hear this song I think it’s a Todd Rundgren song. Check out some of his stuff (solo or with Utopia) and see if you find the one you remember.

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