Connect with us

Music

Connected to a Song: ‘You Get What You Give’ by New Radicals

The perfect balance of daring youth and commercial success.

Daysia Naima Cornish

Published

on

I get a feeling of immense joy when I hear the opening guitar chords of the New Radicals ’90s hit “You Get What You Give.”

Although far gone from the days of bucket hats and the iconic paper cups with turquoise and purple squiggly lines, it is still one of my earliest memories of music. A track that, for all its sentimentality, will still stay with me forever.

The song immediately drew me in with its bright beginning. The opening guitar lines are instantly recognizable, and reels me into the ebullient spirit of the song. 

What sounds like an airplane taking off in the intro is followed by the coming together of buoyant keyboard notes and vibrant drums. The band’s front man Gregg Alexander sets the tone of the track, kicking things into high gear with his “One, two!”  “One, two, three, ow!”

The mood is carefree and relentless throughout. The lyrics build the intensity of the moment, leading to one of the catchiest bridges to a song I’ve ever heard. The perfect balance of daring youth and commercial success.

“You Get What You Give” was released on November 10, 1998 as the first single from the groups’ one and only studio album Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too. The song is reminiscent of classic rock power ballads like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

Instead of crooning about unrequited love, songwriters Rick Nowels and Alexander choose to explore the complexities of unhappiness young people face due to societal pressure.

At its peak, the song rose to number 30 on Billboard Hot 100 in January 1999, and number eight on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. It reached number five in the United Kingdom and number one in Canada and New Zealand. The track is also featured on the soundtrack for the 2007 animated film Surf’s Up.

I remember first hearing this track at the young age of six. It is the first piece of music my mother shard with me, a song that she holds dear. Too young to grasp the lyrics completely, I connected to the music first.

Ever since that first listen the melody has radiated hope inside me. The kind of hope that uplifts you in times of uncertainty and reassures you in times of prosperity. I see vivid shades of yellow when ever I listen. It’s therapeutic.

Every time I hear the song I’m reminded of the countless times I’d play it when I was younger: times when the song would blast through the house as I danced around. To this day, when the pre-chorus plays I feel like a dove flying above the clouds. No matter how many times I’ve heard it — in shopping malls and cheesy commercials — I still feel free. I still feel the same pure ethereal comfort as the first time.

The opening lyric “Wake up kids/ we’ve got the dreamers disease” speaks to me in my very essence. I’ve always been the quiet dreamer, hoping and observing for the future. When Alexander sings that line I feel almost as if he’s only speaking to me.

When the bridge begins I get the same feeling of individuality, as the culmination of emotion in the lyrics and intensity in the music reaches its peak. This portion of the song touches on serious topics like health insurance and the FDA, while still giving it a light-hearted feel, dropping names like Cortney Love, Hanson, and Marilyn Manson.

According to Alexander, it was written in this way as an experiment to see which topics the media would focus on more.

What I love most about this song is that it allows me to create the magic of it for myself. With the music video having a carefree storyline and very few live performances available, the imagery I create while listening to “You Get What You Give” has become all my own, something completely personal to me. 

I love the duality in the song’s notes, how they can so easily make me melancholy or inspired. What has become cheesy, uninspired, or overplayed for others is serenity in motion for me

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Daysia Naima Cornish is currently a freshman at Crafton Hills college majoring in global studies with a minor in music. A music lover since birth, her first and middle names are the titles of her mother and fathers’ favorite songs. Her favorite live performers are Queen, Prince, and Sade. Daysia enjoys debating the works of artists with her friends and strangers alike, buying imaginary concert tickets, and writing about music. Her most recent project was about the history of disco and its cultural impact.

Sign up for the Morning Scoop

and wake up with us each day.

CMN Reports

Government1 day ago

The DSA Endorses Bernie Sanders for President in 2020

America's largest socialist organization is feeling the Bern, again.

by , The Catholic American University
Government2 weeks ago

Speaker Pelosi Endorsed Lowering the Voting Age to 16 years Old

The kids maybe alright to vote.

by , The Catholic American University
National News2 weeks ago

Here’s What We Know So Far About Operation Varsity Blues

A summary and the latest updates about the largest college admissions scandal to hit the country.

by , George Washington University
Government2 weeks ago

The Department of Health and Human Services Received Complaints of Alleged Sexual Abuse Against Foreign National Minors

Migrant children may be at risk on the ground and overseas.

by , The Catholic American University
Government2 weeks ago

California Governor Gavin Newsom Suspends Death Penalty Statewide

The Golden State is on the verge of ending the death penalty.

by , The Catholic American University
Government2 weeks ago

Top Congressional Republicans Decry Progressive Policies as Socialist

A Third Red Scare in Washington?

by , The Catholic American University
Government2 weeks ago

North Dakota State University Football Player Wears Socialist Pin at the Trump White House

The Reds infiltrate the White House.

by , The Catholic American University
National News2 weeks ago

Ethiopian Airlines Jet Crashes, No Survivors on Boeing 737

This is the second flight, in five months involving a Boeing 737.

by , CMN Senior Correspondent

Top Reads