EML’s Favorite Songs – New Radicals: “You Get What You Give”

It was a nice surprise to see The New Radicals perform their iconic 1998 hit “You Get What You Give” at today’s virtual “Parade Across America”, one of the events celebrating the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The song was one of my favorites of the late 1990s and, even though I was already in my mid 40s when it was released, its uplifting yet culturally rebellious lyrics strongly resonated with me. I also loved it’s exuberant vibe and fantastic melody.

The song also meant a lot to Joe Biden’s son Beau, who considered it an inspirational anthem that gave him strength and solace during his battle with the brain cancer that eventually took his life in 2015. In an article for Entertainment, Tyler Aquilina quoted a passage from President Biden’s 2017 autobiography Promise Me Dad: “During breakfast, Beau would often make me listen to what I thought was his theme song, ‘You Get What You Give’ by the New Radicals. Even though Beau never stopped fighting and his will to live was stronger than most — I think he knew that this day might come. The words to the song are: ‘This whole damn world can fall apart. You’ll be OK, follow your heart.

The Biden inauguration committee invited The New Radicals – who broke up in 1999 just months after “You Get What You Give” was released – to perform less than a week before Inauguration Day. “If there’s one thing on Earth that would possibly make us get the band together, if only for a day, it is the hope that our song could be even the tiniest beacon of light in such a dark time,” band frontman Gregg Alexander said in a statement.

For their Inauguration Day performance, Alexander (wearing an identical hat to the one he wore in the song’s music video), dedicated their performance to Beau Biden and to the new administration, saying in a pre-taped introduction, “When we heard that ‘You Get What You Give’ was a Biden family anthem, we pledged that if Joe won, we’d get together and play our little song, both in memory and in honor of our new president’s patriot son Beau, and also with the prayer of Joe being able to bring our country together again.”

In addition to the song’s special meaning for the Bidens, it also served as future Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff’s (Kamala Harris’ husband) walk-out music during the 2020 campaign.

Wake up kids, we’ve got the dreamer’s disease
Age 14, we got you down on your knees
So polite, we’re busy still saying please

Frienemies, who when you’re down ain’t your friend
Every night we smash their Mercedes-Benz
First we run and then we laugh ’til we cry

But when the night is falling
You cannot find the light, light
You feel your dreams are dying
Hold tight

You’ve got the music in you
Don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up
You’ve got a reason to live
Can’t forget
We only get what we give

I’m comin’ home baby
You’re tops, give it to me now

Four A.M. we ran a miracle mile
We’re flat broke but hey we do it in style
The bad rich
God’s flying in for your trial

But when the night is falling
You cannot find your friend (friend)
You feel your tree is breaking just bend

This whole damn world can fall apart
You’ll be OK, follow your heart
You’re in harm’s way, I’m right behind
Now say you’re mine

Don’t let go
I feel the music in you
Fly high
What’s real can’t die
You only get what you give
You’re gonna get what you give
(don’t give up)
Just don’t be afraid to live

Health insurance rip off lying
FDA big bankers buying
Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they’re multiplying
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!

Don’t let go
One dance left

The fun video for “You Get What You Give” was filmed in the Staten Island Mall and directed by Evan Bernard. Alexander said he chose this setting because he saw the shopping mall “as a metaphor for society—a fake, controlled environment engineered to encourage spending”. The video shows a band of marauding teenagers, led by Alexander, wreaking havoc in the mall, terrorizing adults and moshing in the food court.

4 thoughts on “EML’s Favorite Songs – New Radicals: “You Get What You Give”

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