#2. New Radicals
In 1998, the New Radicals were everywhere with "You Get What You Give." The band was the creation of Gregg Alexander, who wrote and produced all the material using a rotating roster of musicians. And though the song featured both indictments of corporate America and tongue-in-cheek violence toward Courtney Love, Hanson and Marilyn Manson, it's just about the happiest, most infectious song you've ever heard.
The song was a commercial and critical success. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joni Mitchell described the song as "the only thing I heard in many years that I thought had greatness in it ..." But despite the successes, New Radicals seemed to disappear as quickly as they emerged.
Why? Well, kind of by choice. Before the release of the album's second single, Alexander disbanded the group -- and since there really was no group, that meant he decided he didn't want to be a pop star. He was a songwriter with apparently zero interest in being onstage. By resisting the temptation to become a pop sensation, New Radicals managed not to overstay its welcome like some of those artists Alexander criticized at the end of "You Get What You Give."
Alexander continued songwriting, crafting tunes performed by artists such as Rod Stewart, Ronan Keating, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Enrique Iglesias. He also wrote the 2003 Grammy Award-winning song "The Game of Love" recorded by Santana and Michelle Branch.
#1. 'Til Tuesday/Aimee Mann
Some people might say it's cheating to have a hybrid entry featuring both a band and the subsequent solo career of one of its members, but I won't listen. Why? Because back in 1985 when 'Til Tuesday broke with their monster hit "Voices Carry," all eyes were on lead singer/bass player Aimee Mann. The video's climax of an oppressed woman freaking out at the opera was bombastic, ridiculous, iconic and absolutely awesome.
You did not win an Oscar, Ms. Mann, but you did win the heart of a prepubescent future Internet writer.
I'm also bending the rules because I'm just a huge Aimee Mann fan. And lastly, she's been married to Michael Penn for many years, and I think it's just lovely that I have them both in the same column. I like to pretend Aimee's curled up on the couch with her laptop right now, sitting in her quirkily adorable fashion, while Michael's in the other room, scribbling lyric fragments into a notebook and adjusting his capo.
"Hey, babe," Aimee calls out. "Come over here, we're both in a Cracked article written by this astute and surprisingly sexy Gladstone dude.'"
"Oh, I remember him," Michael says, entering the room. "He was in the third row at that New York City Town Hall concert we did together like 10 years ago. He lost his damn mind when I opened with 'Long Way Down (Look What the Cat Drug In).'"
"Michael, we've talked about this," Aimee says. "You don't have to say the parentheses part of your songs out loud. Also, you don't have to say 'parentheses' before you say the part in parentheses."
"But you're right! I remember him. We should totally invite Gladstone over to hang. We could jam and watch Portlandia episodes and call up Paul F. Tompkins for a fun game of Pictionary."
Yeah, that's basically how my fantasies work. In any event, although 'Til Tuesday only had one monster hit in the '80s, Aimee's solo career is filled with some fantastic songwriting. Go out and get I'm With Stupid or Whatever or The Forgotten Arm or my favorite -- the soundtrack to Magnolia, containing her Oscar-nominated "Save Me."