As promised, Nineties hitmakers New Radicals reunited for the first time in 22 years to sing their 1998 single “You Get What You Give” for the daytime portion of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris‘ Inauguration Day celebration.
Lead singer Gregg Alexander even wore a bucket hat for the occasion (he famously wore one in the song’s original music video, and it has since become something of a visual trademark for the band).
Speaking to Rolling Stone about the reunion, Alexander talked about filming the reunion and cutting their song’s rapped portion, which originally mentioned “health insurance, rip-off flying / FDA, big bankers buying” and “kick[ing]” Marilyn Manson and Hanson’s “asses”.
“I actually had no beef with the artists I mentioned in the rap in the song,” Alexander said of the song’s rap segment.
“My main issue was with the corrupt bankers, FDA and health insurance types which was, in retrospect, a sadly prescient lyric. But in the late 90s, no one wanted artists metaphorically ‘spoiling the party’ with such political lyrics during the CD boom!”
He continued: “Writing that ‘health insurance rip off lying FDA’ rap when I got to the part of trying to rhyme the words ‘mansion’ and ‘ass-in’ only words like Hanson, who are very talented BTW, were among the options I had at the time! But for the inauguration and only four minutes to play, I couldn’t get to the rap part anyway.”
Fans watching from home reacted positively on social media. “I was floored to find out this song has meaning to both the Biden and Harris families – it got me through the darkest days after 9/11 and then again when I went through breast cancer,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“Still a banger after all these years!! Born in the Eighties, grew up in the Nineties. THIS WAS AND IS MY JAM,” another fan wrote.
“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,” Alexander said in a statement when the reunion was announced earlier this week.
“America knows in its heart that things will get bright again with a new administration and a real plan for vaccines on the way. That’s the message of the song … this world is gonna pull through.”
The song has also become a theme song for the Biden family. As the 46th President wrote in his 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.”
Biden was sworn in to office earlier on Wednesday. Lady Gaga sang the national anthem; Jennifer Lopez sang a medley of “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”; and country great Garth Brooks performed “Amazing Grace”.
The evening portion of the inauguration ceremony, hosted by Tom Hanks, featured performances from Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons, Foo Fighters, and more.