Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Radicals "You Get What You Give" Song Analysis

Reader David Plantz requested a song analysis of what happens to be one of my favorite songs, "You Get What You Give" by the New Radicals. It's a 1999 song that was a moderate world-wide hit, but unfortunately established the band as a one-hit wonder. Like all song analysis, we'll look at the song itself, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"You Get What You Give" follows a pretty standard formula pop form that looks like this:

Intro, Verse, B section, Chorus, Interlude, Verse, B section, Chorus, Solo/Bridge, Chorus, Outchorus

There are several items of interest here. First the intro is unusual in the way it forecasts the song with the entrance of separate instrument elements, the outro is unusual in that it's almost like a total separate part instead of a repeating chorus, and the turnaround from the chorus to the verse has a very unusual chord change that really grabs the ear.

The Arrangement
The arrangement of the song is pretty interesting in that the various elements play different parts in the song than you'd expect.

  * The Foundation: This is held down mostly by the drums.

  * The Rhythm: The double-time piano

  * The Pad: None

  * The Lead: The vocal and guitar solo

  * The Fills: Vocal answers

What's particularly interesting is the bass part played by Sasha Krivtsov, which is very reminiscent of  James Jamerson's best bass lines for Motown. It's melodic and the part is very fluid, so even though it's part of the foundation element, it moves the song along just as a rhythm element would.

The Sound
An excellent example of a modern hit, the sound of "You Get What You Give" has depth without sounding too large. This is accomplished mostly by the use of a timed 1/4 note delay on the voice and guitars, a big snare reverb that's not too predominate in the mix, and a dry piano. Nothing sounds too compressed so that you actually notice it, which is always a sign of good engineering.

The Production
The intro tells you everything you need to know about the production, as you can hear various layers of piano, guitars and sound effects as it builds to the verse. I especially liked some of the background vocal harmony answers like in the end of the 2nd verse, and the wide stereo vocals on the outro. All in all, a very well-made record.

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3 comments:

Debbye said...

Thanks for the analysis on "You Get What You Give". I love any excuse to listen to this album. It's a favorite that never leaves my iPod.

Anonymous said...

as far as the pad, I hear a very faint synthy string/organ sound in the choruses.

Anonymous said...

This song was brickwalled.

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