New Radicals Almost Released "Murder on the Dancefloor" as Their Debut Single

Hear songwriter Gregg Alexander's previously unreleased demo of the Sophie Ellis-Bextor hit

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Mar 5, 2024

New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" is an all-time great pop song, but it almost wasn't the band's debut single; they nearly made their debut with "Murder on the Dancefloor" — the track released in 2001 by Sophie Ellis-Bextor that, thanks to Emerald Fennell's Saltburn, has become an inescapably viral, Billboard Hot 100-charting hit in 2024.

Songwriter Gregg Alexander gave a rare interview to The Guardian, explaining how he started writing "Murder on the Dancefloor" in 1994 on a night when his car wouldn't start. 

"I had a moment of annoyance that I couldn't go to the house clubs in Detroit," he told the publication's Dave Simpson, and remembered picking up an acoustic guitar and singing the "dummy lyric" now reverberating across the internet: "It's a murder on the dance floor / But you'd better not kill the groove."

After recording a demo (which you can hear below), Alexander went on to write "You Get What You Give" — after a dream about Joni Mitchell — which would ultimately lead off New Radicals' sole album, 1998's Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too.

“I almost flipped a coin between the two songs,” he explained. “The record company wanted something urgently and I didn’t have the time or the budget to finish both. I felt like 'Murder' was a monster but 'You Get What You Give' was a masterpiece. It was everything I’d always wanted to say inside five minutes.”

Alexander is very much not wrong on either assessment — and New Radicals even came out of retirement and reunited in 2021 to buoy everyone's hopes for a brighter future by playing the song at the Biden inauguration, as "You Get What You Give" was the president's late son Beau's "theme song."

“'Murder' was a song I always wanted the world to hear,” Alexander continued. “And when I met Sophie we embarked on a creative journey, the first of three or four Top 10 hits we had.” It was working with Ellis-Bextor and producer Matt Rowe that the song was able to become what it was, deciding to leave some of the songwriter's choice lyrics — like “I’m gonna make us hit the Hague / Once you hit the bong" — on the cutting room floor.

Hear Alexander's previously unreleased "Murder on the Dancefloor" demo here.

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