Take 5: Gregg Alexander

New Radicals’ 1998 single “You Get What You Give” was a major hit in three countries (U.S. #36, Canada #1, UK #5), and it charted in several others. Led by singer and songwriter Gregg Alexander, New Radicals quickly became known as a one-hit wonder; after a short tour (and before the release of a second single), the group would disband, never making another record. (They did reunite for a one-off streaming performance in January 2021, in honor of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the United States’ 46th President.)

But New Radicals’ brief time in the spotlight belies the fact that Alexander has always been busy behind the scenes. As a songwriter, musician and producer, he’s been key to the success of many other artists. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too, here’s a look at five songs that showcase the artistry of Gregg Alexander.

Gregg Alexander – “In the Neighborhood” from Michigan Rain (1989)
Alexander had a solo career before launching New Radicals; signed to A&M Records, he released his debut album. It featured this song as the lead track of the 12-song record, all of which were original compositions. While reviews were very positive – Allmusic awarded it four and a half stars – sales were minimal. By the time he released its followup (1992’s Intoxifornication, which featured new version of three of the debut’s songs – Alexander was signed to Epic.

New Radicals – “You Get What You Give” from Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too (1998)
This song’s exuberant, life-affirming character and dance vibe were keys to its success. Some listeners heard the influence of Todd Rundgren in the song. “You Get What You Give” stands in sharp contrast to the album’s second single, the melancholy heartbreak of “Someday We’ll Know.” Former child actor Danielle Brisebois was one of Alexander’s main collaborators on the record; Paul McCartney’s guitarist Rusty Anderson was another.

Santana – “The Game of Love” from Shaman (2003)
Long running popular rock band Santana released their 19th album, Shaman in 2002. The record’s single and standout number was this track, co-written by Alexander under the pseudonym “Alex Ander.” Several artists including Macy Gray and Tina Turner took turns recording the lead vocal, but it would be the version featuring Michelle Branch that landed on the album. Alexander – who also produced some of the recording sessions – won a Grammy Award for the song.

Adam Levine – “Lost Stars” from Maroon 5’s V (2014)
Maroon 5 vocalist Adam Levine recorded this song – with a songwriter credit to Alexander, Brisebois and others – for the comedy-drama motion picture Begin Again. Levine would perform the song in at least two notable instances: the first was on the seventh season finale of The Voice, and the second was with Maroon 5 during the broadcast of the 87th Academy Awards. The song was among the nominees for that year’s Best Original Song, but lost to John Legend and Common’s “Glory.”

The Struts – “Put Your Money on Me” from Everybody Wants (2014 and 2016)
21st century rock’s answer to arena-oriented ‘70s superstars like Queen, The Struts were one of the most exciting groups to come out of the U.K. in the early 2010s. Their debut album, 2014’s Everybody Wants featured this song, a co-write by Alexander, his frequent collaborator Nick Southwood and Struts band members Luke Spiller and Adam Slack. The song was released as the third single from the well-received album. When a revised version of Everybody Wants was issued in 2016, it included a new remix of “Put Your Money on Me.”