'Murder on the Dancefloor' Almost Became New Radicals' First Single, Reveals Co-Writer Gregg Alexander

Alexander says he "almost flipped a coin" between releasing "You Get What You Give" and "Murder," which became a massive hit for Sophie Ellis-Bextor

There's another lifetime in which "Murder on the Dancefloor" wasn't recorded by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Gregg Alexander of the British band New Radicals, who cowrote the 2001 disco-pop hit with Ellis-Bextor, revealed in a new interview with The Guardian that his band nearly released "Murder on the Dancefloor" as its debut single rather than the 1998 alt-rock hit "You Get What You Give."

The vocalist and guitarist wrote the song's hook one night in 1994, when he was trying to drive his blue Ford Mustang to a nightclub and the vehicle wouldn't start. Feeling annoyed, he grabbed an acoustic guitar and came up with its infectious main lyric — which many new listeners have recently learned thanks to the song's usage in the hit movie Saltburn.

Related: Sophie Ellis-Bextor's 'Murder on the Dancefloor' Earns Its Most 1-Day Spotify Streams Ever Thanks to Saltburn

<p>Joe Maher/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA; Mark Davis/Getty Images for The Santa Barbara International Film Festival</p> Sophie Ellis-Bextor; Gregg Alexander

Joe Maher/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA; Mark Davis/Getty Images for The Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Sophie Ellis-Bextor; Gregg Alexander

Around the same time the earliest version of "Murder on the Dancefloor" was born, Alexander, 53, also wrote "You Get What You Give," which would become New Radicals' signature track, having peaked at No. 5 in the U.K. and reached the top 40 in the U.S.

"I almost flipped a coin between the two songs," recalled the Grammy winner, who wrote "You Get What You Give" alongside Rick Nowels and produced it himself.

"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," continued Alexander, who made a "master quality demo" of "Murder on the Dancefloor" before deciding not to release it.

Related: Sophie Ellis-Bextor Announces First-Ever U.S. Tour Following ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ Resurgence

New Radicals — a duo that also features Danielle Brisebois — initially split in 1999, shortly after the release of its first album Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too. Looking to work with other artists, Alexander moved to London's Notting Hill neighborhood.

At the time, Ellis-Bextor had recently earned her first hit in the U.K. with the Spiller collaboration "Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)." Soon enough, she heard the "Murder on the Dancefloor" demo and got in the studio with Alexander.

"Murder was a song I always wanted the world to hear. And when I met Sophie we embarked on a creative journey," he told The Guardian, referencing their follow-up collaborative hits "Music Gets the Best of Me," "Mixed Up World" and "I Won't Change You."

Related: Sophie Ellis-Bextor Says She 'Wasn't Quite Prepared' for Barry Keoghan's Nude Saltburn Dance to Her Song (Exclusive)

Mick Hutson/Redferns New Radicals
Mick Hutson/Redferns New Radicals

While writing "Murder on the Dancefloor," Alexander said he was told its lyrics (such as "I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know") were "too repetitive" — but he trusted his instincts.

"Every time I went down the hallway for a coffee I’d see people dancing to 'Murder on the Dancefloor.' I’d think ‘Wow, maybe this is tapping into something,’” recalled the musician of his time in the studio with Ellis-Bextor and producer Matt Rowe.

Looking back, Alexander is happy Ellis-Bextor released the song, which recently charted in the U.S. for the first time ever following its Saltburn resurgence, as it's featured in a prominent scene in the Emerald Fennell-directed film.

<p>Frazer Harrison/Gett</p> Sophie Ellis-Bextor in Los Angeles in November 2023

Frazer Harrison/Gett

Sophie Ellis-Bextor in Los Angeles in November 2023

"She’s so talented and humble but a great pop star," he said. "I think her genius, slightly deadpan delivery helped make it a hit. Everything would have been different if I’d put out 'Murder on the Dancefloor,' but I feel that everything happened as it was meant to be."

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Ellis-Bextor recently spoke to PEOPLE about her song's use in Saltburn — specifically a scene where Barry Keoghan's character sances naked around a large mansion. "I didn't really know exactly how it would play in terms of the role it was in the movie until I saw it at the screening, but I absolutely loved it," she said. "I think it's such a clever, funny, smart film. I really enjoyed it."

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