How the band has tumbled out of the limelight
I don’t know if it’s the nostalgia factor or maybe my music taste has just changed, but Maroon 5’s transition from catchy “corporate punk” music to, admittedly, annoying pop radio hits is disappointing to say the least. Is this band anyone’s favorite anymore or was it anyone’s to begin with? It seems like they made a deal with the industry to be a second thought, to produce good, even great, music while never being the favorite thing out. This is the kind of music that you forget exists until you hear it in a department store.
I remember being a kid and hearing half the songs from their first album, Songs About Jane, and knowing them word for word. Now, when I hear Maroon 5 on the radio, it sounds like they’re trying to brainwash me with the catchy tune of nothingness.
Songs About Jane
With a slight jazz influence and a pop punk approach, Adam Levine and company created one of my favorite albums of the early 2000’s. Highlighted by the songs “Harder to Breathe”, “This Love”, and “She Will Be Loved”, this album travels through the thoughts of a lovestruck young adult in the midst of a break up. The inclusion and effect of the drums and guitar are vital in the way this collection of songs comes together. In contemporary music, the rave is digitized music and beats; however, I believe this takes away from the brassiness and authenticity when relating to the kind of music Maroon 5 produces.
Even after almost 20 years, this album has aged incredibly well — again, this could be the nostalgia talking, but it houses some of my favorite songs I listened to as a kid. The biggest thing I takeaway from this brand of music from Maroon 5 is emotion. I can feel the pain, the heartbreak. You don’t have to go searching for that scent of emotion like you have to in their later music.
It Won’t Be Soon Before Long
Headlined by singles “Makes Me Wonder” and “Won’t Go Home Without You”, this album performed just as well as the first to solidify Maroon 5’s place in music superstardom. Still immersed in the pop punk genre, the album is representative of music as a whole in the 2000’s. This is kinda like that sort of pseudo-rebellious music that your parents wouldn’t mind listening to as well.
While there is a slower beat overall in this album, it still feels like prime and authentic Maroon 5. This genre, this kind of music, is their identity. While Levine does eventually embark on solo adventures, I would prefer the band as a whole. It’s like they complete each other and Adam ties them together as a band.
Hands All Over (Transition)
To me, the 2010’s signaled what appeared to be the end of the traditional Maroon 5 production. This decade began the infiltration of the pop music takeover. While this album does a relatively good job in staying true to the bands roots, there is a noticeable difference in the brand of music.
You can sense the higher inflection of voice and the catchy choruses along with the repetitive backlog of beats which is a hallmark of traditional pop music. It’s easy to follow, easy to remember, and easy (maybe even annoying) to have stuck in your head. The emotion involved become less obvious, as pop music is generally happy and upbeat — so, even with lyrics about heartbreak, the heightened inflection triggers the “happy” emotion.
4 years after the release of Hands All Over, you’ll find that Maroon 5 is a full blown pop band. Evident from the very first song, “Maps”, you are taken to a conundrum of pop/rave music. If you never heard Maroon 5, and I showed you this album and their first album, you wouldn’t believe they were the same band. This album houses a plethora of these catchy pop songs including “Animals” and “Sugar”. It’s important to note that these songs are not inherently bad, just different from the Maroon 5 I formerly knew.
The natural drums and guitar riffs we used to get are now drowned out with a boring and repetitive beat and occasionally a random ad-lib. Combine this with the ultra-high pitched Levine’s voice and the repetitive chorus, we are presented with music that can represent most pop music in the mid-2010’s.
Red Pill Blues
This album is the most obvious attempt at conforming to mainstream pop music. Even in the first song, traditional beat are completely replaced with digital beats and baps. Including features (rare in old Maroon 5) from some of the biggest stars in the game including SZA, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Cardi B, and A$AP Rocky, it’s evident that this band can no longer single handedly keep up in sales and streams.
I’m not upset that Maroon 5 had to stray from their signature, just disappointed. I hate that they had to convert to mainstream pop to remain relevant, as Songs About Jane seemed like the golden ages. Again, this new brand of the band isn’t inherently bad — a lot of the songs are fun to listen to, especially in the summertime. But I sort of wonder if they would’ve saved themselves the trouble had they flared out like a lot of other bands in the late 2000’s. Regardless, they seemed to have found the formula to make money so prop to them.