Hey! That's the wrong kind of subversion...
Bursting onto the scene with the dizzying panache of a mid-tempo, Billy Joel keyboard flourish, troubled ideologue Gregg Alexander first came to our attention with the athemic 'You only get what you give' - a call to arms for those afflicted with the 'dreamers disease'. The video vividly and simplistically showed us what WAS wrong with Gregg's world - and what he was going to do about it.
The scene is a regular mall, Anywheresville, Small-town USA. Regular, that is, barring the fact that Gregg and his band of 'New Radicals' (The New Radicals, radically competent West Coast session types, wearing hair gel) are about to rock their worlds!
As the count goes down, Gregg, seven foot tall in a beanie hat, gives the nod to his dull-eyed teenage cohorts. There's going to be a revolution! (Albeit, a rather short-sighted, shortly-lived one).
As a tired Todd Rundgren riff fires out, signalling the start of the tune, the kids go crazy! Running wildly up and down escalators and food courts, messing with the sporting goods section, helping themselves to ice cream, riding their scooters with scant regard for others. It's the American teenage dream! No more grown ups telling them not sit around on their low slung denim arses. If they want to dye their hair green, tippex Limp Bizkit onto their shoes, sit nine to a table in Burger King, mumbling in faux Jamaican accents, then no-ones going to stop them.
Oddly however, the teenagers in Gregg's video don't actually act like this. What they do in fact for the most part is jump up and down. Repeatedly. Its easy to see who the ringleader is here, of course. It's Gregg. He's been bouncing elastically since the opening bars of the song, blinded by his oversize beanie, as if bobbing for invisible apples. In a key moment, Gregg is actually confronted by one of the teens - a rather matronly 'Lolly' lookalike. For an electrifying moment they stare: priest and acolyte, guru and josh, a frozen instance of the relationship of command. Then they both start jumping up and down.
By now the kids are going crazy with fun; its a trench coat Mafia beano. They capture an old man in a net; they place a woman shopper in a hastily improvised cage. They force that last bastion of oppressive parental control -the fast food outlet worker- to give them more food, for free, faster. Whilst pelting her with stuff.
This is of course exemplary behaviour, and Gregg is in the thick of it. In a scene reminiscent of the start of 2001, Gregg pogoes, with his monkey companions looming over him, like a hip lamppost; blinking like a Labrador in a sandstorm.
Later on in his career, Gregg would claim that the outsized hat he wore throughout this video, was symptomatic of a deep-seated sense of disillusion with the music business, and an ingrained self-disgust.
He could literally not stand to see himself as anything less than the man willing to kick in the suits trying to market a career on his face!
All extremely laudable behaviour for a kicking against the pricks, champion of the kids; and an estimable attempt to scupper his own career. So laudable in fact that it would be more than a little churlish to suggest that he wore the hat on the record company's suggestion to disguise his incipient baldness and a pronounced facial tick. But y'know Im a churl.
In fact, Gregg did quit the business shortly after the release of the New Radicals first - and only - album choosing instead to concentrate on writing and production...no doubt hoping to topple the tyrants of the music business with some 'new radical' puppets of his own.
After all, this is the man who threatened to 'kick the ass in' of Marilyn Manson and who sneered at the temerity of Beck attending a fashion show. He's also clearly unafraid to look unfashionable, playing the long ball, no doubt working toward some inscrutable five year plan. Such as when he claimed that he wanted to become 'the next Mutt Langer' (the veteran rock producer, famous for his years of success with Def Leppard and his lack of success in shagging Shania Twain).
So bearing in mind 'the kids', his own need for self respect, autonomy swimming against the Armani tide and his own peerless tilting against pops potentates. Who has Gregg (still rockin' that gangsta double gg ) chosen to ally himself with? Ronan Keating, Madonna, Texas and Rod Stewart.
Well, all right, Gregg. You've got the music in you.
Alexander: Doing it for the kids.