Back in the late nineties after I had just graduated high school and was bouncing between California and Arizona, not really sure what to do with my life but having so much fun along the way that I didn’t really care what the future held, I remember one particular band that really contributed to the soundtrack of my life: the New Radicals. Blending upbeat pop and rock with a little bit of funk, the New Radicals album Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too hit the airwaves with a passion and caught my attention with their song, “You Get What You Give”, a tune that pushed the idea of not giving up on your dreams but also took a stab at celebrities and real issues that were playing in the world at the time such as health insurance and cloning. The music video for this song was by far one of my favorite, showcasing a bunch of teenagers taking over a mall and terrorizing the adults there. Who doesn’t fantasize about running rampant in a mall?!
Most of the New Radicals’ music was known for taking slams at Western commercialism, religion and corporate entities, but what I really pulled from their songs was the idea of being your own person and not conforming to everyone else. I think the most intriguing tune that I found on the album was the title track, “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too”. Scoping out the lyrics cover that came with the CD, you’ll notice that the lyrics that were written for the song are not the lyrics that are in the song. Instead, there is a trance-like pop melody with words I could never really figure out. Didn’t bother me though. The song was played in my CD player in overkill when I was living a careless and adventure-filled life in California, and really put a capstone on what I believed to be some of my greatest memories for that period in my life.
I miss the New Radicals. I’ve always questioned what happened to them and doing some quick google searches or diving into Wikipedia, you’ll find that Gregg Alexander, the frontman for the group, ended up leaving the band after the first album to work on other projects. A little fun fact is that Gregg coproduced “Game of Love”, the popular song that Santana and Michelle Branch teamed up to do in 2002.
I don’t think anything really beats the late nineties in terms of music, and I think the New Radicals earned their place in my memory. When youth was restless, the sky was the limit, and there was nothing to hold us back, their tunes displayed a sense of rebellion, of fun, and of originality.