Yesterday I learned that the New Radicals are reuniting and performing at the Biden Inauguration this week. The story behind the reunion is a great one. The song that most people know them for, "You Get What You Give" was the rallying song for the Biden family when their Beau Biden was battling cancer.
From Rolling Stone:
“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,” Biden wrote. “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.”
Beyond this personal story of the Biden family, to me, at least, it signaled a small bit of optimism. I was a huge fan of their first album, and fans were devastated when they broke up and spent many years hoping for a reunion for before finally giving up. Perhaps I'm being naive, but Biden getting the New Radicals to reunite, if only for the inauguration, is a big deal. What was once written off as impossible is now happening.
The band comments on this:
“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,” frontman Gregg Alexander said in a statement.
This is something that has me optimistic about a Biden Presidency and his goal of unification. It's not like he won't have friction to overcome, but to be a frictionless surface himself can go a long way and will feel very different to a nation to the climate today and even the climate of the Obama presidency - despite his own attempts to do so.
While I will contend that there is no deeper symbolism to this decision than what I outlined above, I think there's a bunch of songs on the album, including the title track that are incredibly relevant to the climate today. Just as Biden needs to seize the moment, this might be my last chance to write about The New Radicals and have anyone really care, so I'm going to go through most of the tracks as if this album just dropped today.
Mother We Just Can't Get Enough
It would be fun to have them open the inauguration with this song which opens with "Make my nipples hard, let's go." This song is a banger and on the surface feels like it is a happy go lucky love song, but a deeper listen will reveal that it's actually pretty pessimistic. You can interpret anywhere from he feels love is transaction to he's at a peep show or on a phone sex line.
You Get What You Give
Not much to say about this song other than what I previously said, or what has been said. I will say that this is actually a very political song if you really listen to the lyrics.
I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away the Ending
This is the best song on the album by far and one of my favorite songs of all time. It is dark and tells a story of dependency and the paradox of self-destructive behavior - where everyone including the one who is being destructive already knows "the ending" of it all, yet you do it anyways. In many ways this paradox can be seen as a metaphor for some of the actions, movements, and actors during the last four years and summed up in one tweet:
The song also has a very cool, almost Radiohead esque style. It's very different from their other songs. If you listen to any song on this album a few times, this should be it.
I Don't Want to Die Anymore
This song follows IHIJDGATE and is appropriate. It is about trying to get past a cycle of self-destruction. If IHIJDGATE represents much about the last 4 years, let's be hopeful that our script follows that of the album.
Jehovah Made This Whole Joint for You
This is an awesome song and incredibly relevant. It tells the story of a girl, Carolina, who is obviously very angry and political but also very hypocritical. She's the ultimate contrarian and radical. It's definitely a warning against radicalism for it's own sake or just shallow radicalism. It's both incredibly timeless and timely.
Someday We'll Know
This song is great but purely a song about love and love lost. I definitely had this ripping on my disc man quite a few times during high school. Beautiful song.
Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
This is the weirdest song on the album and also happens to be the title track. It's also pretty awesome. Most of the lyrics are rather inaudible until the end and it sounds almost like mumblings of someone who has been brainwashed or perhaps doing the brainwashing? I'd be lying if I knew I could make complete heads and tails of it. It bangs though.
In Need of a Miracle, Gotta Stay High, & Technicolor Lover
These are probably three of the weaker songs on the album. They're not terrible but if they were left off, I wouldn't particularly miss them. Technicolor Lover is ok, I guess.
Another song about young love that resonated a bit more in high school than it does for me today, but the chorus is great and this song just has a different sound than the rest but just also such a quintessential 90's sound.
Crying Like a Church on Monday
Just a great breakup song. If I didn't already completely have a hilarious mental image of Trump tomorrow flying away from Washington, with his headphones on staring out the airplane window tomorrow listening to The District Sleeps Alone Tonight by The Postal Service - maybe it would be this one.
Anyways, hopefully I didn't go full Ringer on this one but excited to watch the inauguration tomorrow. If we as a country can agree on anything, it should be that this is was on of the more criminally underrated albums of that era. Let's start there.