While half the nation sat with bated breath for Trump to finally exit the White House Wednesday, the other half was equally nervous for the promised reunion of The New Radicals, a band formed and fronted by musician Gregg Alexander, whose 1998 hit “You Get What You Give” is a favorite of the Biden family and was the campaign walk-on song for Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. After Biden and Harris won the election, Alexander announced he would reunite the band for the first time in 22 years to play the post-inauguration event Parade Across America, but he left an important question unanswered: Would He Wear the Bucket Hat?
The Bucket Hat, which Alexander wore in the video for “You Get What You Give” and many live performances after it, was seen as not just a late-rave, post-Madchester signifier of the era in which it was released, but almost as another member of the band. Alexander later said in interviews he began wearing it because he grew weary of playing “You Get What You Give” ad infinitum and he did not want audiences to see the boredom in his eyes, but fans knew better: the hat was musically grafted to his head, a magical accessory that allowed him to conjure such a banger. Nay, some would say the bucket hat was the most important part of the song.
These suspicions were confirmed Wednesday afternoon when, after much to-do, the New Radicals appeared on Parade Across America and the bucket hat—seemingly the actual bucket hat from the video, preserved at near-museum quality 23 years later—was there atop Alexander’s mug. The song was filmed remotely and sounded as though no time had passed, apart from the material fact that viewers saw it on a computer screen during a pandemic and Alexander, now a Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated composer, is sightly older. But the appearance of the bucket hat was grounding, a sign that maybe some things will, at some point, start to right themselves. The bucket hat lives. Alexander skipped the bridge about health insurance being a rip-off and big banks and Marilyn Manson sucking but, as they say, you get what you give.