“I almost flipped a coin between the two songs”: New Radicals frontman Gregg Alexander reveals his original demo for Murder On The Dancefloor, and says that it almost replaced You Get What You Give as his ‘90s band’s first single

Gregg Alexander
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While Murder on the Dancefloor’s Saltburn-seasoned second wind has given a considerable boost to the career of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, it’s also been good news for Gregg Alexander, the former New Radicals frontman who co-wrote the song, which was originally released in 2001. Now, in a rare interview, he’s been giving his reaction to having a hit record all over again. 

“A publisher told me that in January it was the most heard music on the planet,” Alexander told The Guardian. “That’s just incredible.”

Indeed it is, but it turns out that Alexander almost ended up keeping Murder on the Dancefloor for the New Radicals as their debut single and singing it himself. In the end, though, he went with You Get What You Give, which was also a huge hit in 1998.

“I almost flipped a coin between the two songs,” Alexander confirms. “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.”

A sliding doors moment, then, but we can now get an idea of what a New Radicals version of Murder On The Dancefloor might have sounded like, because Alexander has shared a 40-second clip of the “rough cassette” demo version of the song that he sent to Ellis-Bextor, also via The Guardian.

This confirms Ellis-Bextor’s recollection that Alexander’s demo was just “him singing nonsense lyrics,” but the fundamentals of the song’s chorus are firmly in place. “I nurtured it and finished the lyrics - it was pretty easy and fun,” Ellis-Bextor told Music Week in 2019. “It started us collaborating on quite a few things together after that.”

“Murder was a song I always wanted the world to hear,” Alexander says now. “And when I met Sophie we embarked on a creative journey, the first of three or four Top 10 hits we had.”

Alexander would go on to write further hits for the likes of Ronan Keating (Life Is A Rollercoaster, Lovin’ Each Day) and Santana (The Game Of Love) and also penned songs for 2013’s Begin Again, which starred Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. He continues work on new material behind the scenes, and performed You Get What You Give in honour of Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021, but the chances of a full-scale comeback seem slim at this point.

“I could walk out on stage any time I want to,” he says. “It’s a blast, but I enjoy the studio more than performing because a recording is there for ever.”

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.