The one best efficiency of Performative One-Hit-Marvel Hatred I’ve ever witnessed in particular person transpired in December 1998 in Cleveland, Ohio, at a weird alt-rock-radio-station music competition and canned-food drive co-headlined by Gainesville, Florida, ska-punk lifers Much less Than Jake and superb L.A. one-hit-wonders the New Radicals. Somebody ought to write a whole-ass e-book on Much less Than Jake, and I can’t assure you it gained’t be me: These dudes had been into ska-punk each approach earlier than it was cool and (much more impressively) lengthy after, and so they have my enduring respect. Much less Than Jake followers love Much less Than Jake. Additionally, anecdotally, Much less Than Jake followers hate the New Radicals.
“You Get What You Give.” That’s the New Radicals’ one hit. I really feel much less impolite than ordinary, stating this plainly, as a result of it positive looks like the New Radicals deliberate on having simply the one. They’re led by singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, charming Solely Man on the Album Cowl narcissist, and bucket-hat fanatic Gregg Alexander, who I’d’ve sworn to you was English (it’s the hat), however who apparently grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Certain. Gregg was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, used to drive round along with his mother listening to Motown, and vowed, after listening to Prince’s “The Stunning Ones” as an adolescent, to run away to California and turn into a rock star (affordable). After which, briefly, he turned one.
I believe you don’t require a prolonged, obnoxious description of “You Get What You Give,” an upbeat piano jam with an outstanding pre-chorus that seems like peak Billy Joel discovering cocaine and Jesus concurrently. (No less than that description wasn’t prolonged.) So in Cleveland, at this weird canned-food-drive state of affairs, the New Radicals take the stage second-to-last, with solely Much less Than Jake left to go, and among the many extra cynical amongst us, already there’s a way that “You Get What You Give” is gonna be it for these fellas, hit-wise, very a lot by design. However on this second, Gregg and his buddies are nonetheless very a lot Going For It when it comes to chasing pop stardom, Going For It right here outlined as prepared to play a canned-food drive in Cleveland per week earlier than Christmas. Gregg doesn’t, in my estimation, appear comfortable to be right here, in Cleveland, per week earlier than Christmas. The New Radicals play some songs, to broad crowd indifference. Midway by means of the set, they play “You Get What You Give.” The group perks up. The New Radicals proceed to play different, far much less fashionable New Radicals songs; the group as soon as once more grows detached. The set ends, blessedly. No encore is requested, and but the band returns for an encore anyway. The encore consists of “You Get What You Give,” once more.
And out of the blue Cleveland, in my estimation, doesn’t appear too comfortable that the New Radicals are nonetheless right here. “Anyone discover a energy outlet!” somebody yells. After which I watch in amazement as a large group of Much less Than Jake followers, huddled collectively in the midst of the group, stand silently, with their center fingers raised towards the stage, for everything of “You Get What You Give,” once more. Not a good time to be surrounded by canned meals.
This picture—a bird-flipping flock of peeved Much less Than Jake followers—pops into my head every time I revisit the New Radicals’ debut (and farewell) album, 1998’s Perhaps You’ve Been Brainwashed Too, which has, simply in case you weren’t conscious, different songs, most notably an impressively goopy ballad known as “Sometime We’ll Know” throughout which Gregg bellows, “DID THE CAPTAIN OF THE TITANIC CRY?,” which I’m rendering right here in all caps as a result of that’s how he sings it. The entire album is as chaotic and pompous and ideologically convoluted as subversive major-label pop will get, a sunny hellscape of dystopian post-Motown cocaine melodramas; generally, by design, Gregg seems like an incoherently mumbling scorching mess, and generally he seems like a targeted L.A. studio professional with a surprisingly affecting falsetto who’s simply completely Going For It. Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” bears mentioning right here, I suppose, when it comes to most dorky pop as a supply system for optimum drug-binge shock worth; I additionally suspect that Gregg and 3EB frontman Stephan Jenkins would actually get alongside, and that you simply don’t need to be round once they do.