Should Adam Levine Keep Making Music?

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Westerns  |  House: Booksie Classic


HOLY FUCK, WE GET IT: YOU’RE AN OGRE.” -my Dad’s review of Shrek Forever After as he was leaving the theater 

 

Let’s face it: when you’re listening to the radio in the car, late for school or work, and “Memories” by Maroon 5 comes on for the 8 billionth time, you will likely be so annoyed that you will briefly consider becoming an axe murderer, a crack addict, or moving to a far away island where no radios exist, therefore leaving no chance of ever hearing that song again. 

But what happened to your old self, your middle school self that thought Maroon 5 was actually really good? More importantly, what happened to Maroon 5 themselves, a band who, let’s admit it, used to make music that we’d lurp up like recently-divorced middle aged dads lurp up Miller Lite at Applebee’s?

For starters, I’m not here to rant about modern/popular music. If you’re looking for the kind of opinion piece where some douchebag rants about how “OOOH, EVERYTHING EXCEPT HEAVY METAL IS BULLSHIT” then this article isn’t for you. This is written by a longtime Maroon 5 fan who likes almost any kind of music, new and old. But upon listening to their most recent album- Jordi- I’ve come to face the question of whether or not the world needs more of Maroon 5, particularly their inked up 42-year old metrosexual frontman, Adam.

Adam Levine, over the course of his career, has been to music what Taco Bell is to restaurants. Yeah, no shit, it’s not the best food in the world, but if you’re in Breezewood or some other middle of fucking nowhere exit off the Pennsylvania or New Jersey Turnpike, and you’re starving to your doom, then Taco Bell is edible, and mildly satisfying. Similarly, if you compare other mainstream radio pop music in the last 15 years, Maroon 5 is one of the slightly more bearable modern artists. Plus, they’re unique. They think outside the bun, musically speaking. 

I think that’s why I liked Maroon 5 so much in middle school. I mostly listened to classic rock and R&B, particularly groups from the 90s like 112 that none of my friends had ever even heard of. I listened to new stuff too, but mostly artists like LMFAO and Gym Class Heroes that middle school aged guys considered “cool shit” or whatever.

But Maroon 5 was unique: they were the intersection of so many musical genres, but also could appeal to so many listeners, unlike some artists who have a clear target audience (like Raffi to toddlers or Cannibal Corpse to alcoholic 56 year old Estonian guys, for example). Whether you were in middle school or in your thirties, single or married, Democrat or Republican, smoker or non-smoker, cannibal or yogi vegan, Gucci rocker or hobo, midget porn addict or Harvard Law Scholar, nobody was considered super weird or straying away from what’s “socially acceptable” for their demographic to listen to if they listened to Maroon 5. 

Plus, their songs could be passionate and romantic, at least back when I was in middle school. If you sent the girl you like the link to the “She Will Be Loved” music video on Gmail chat or on WeeWorld, it would probably seem more relevant than sending her the video to “Shots” by LMFAO, for example.

I think this combination of cool, cute, stylish and sexy is what a lot of us liked about Adam Levine himself, too. You know, for the first fifteen years of him obsessing over how sexy he is. Adam’s public image was that he was young and romantic enough to be “cute,” but also old enough and tatted/stubbly/edgy enough to be a “CoOL GuY,” in the 2000s sense at least. His music videos are somewhat reminiscent of a low-grossing Tom Cruise movie: fast cars, sunglasses, hot babes, and people randomly getting murdered for being (gasps) six feet tall. Literally, these are the lyrics to a Maroon 5 song: “six foot tall, came without a warning, so I had to shoot him dead.” 

Let’s analyze this line a little: because this Alaskan Bull Worm of a man was a towering SIX FEET TALL, he HAD to shoot him, DEAD. Like, DEAD dead. Now that’s a weird thing to tell the pigs when they get to the scene, isn’t it? You’d think he was talking about Mongo from Blazing Saddles or something. The music video starts out with his girlfriend making out with the guy, then Adam comes in and shoots him dead and disco, then he and his girlfriend try to hide the corpse and feel bad about it as if maybe, just maybe, FIRST DEGREE MURDER was a SLIGHTLY bad idea. It’s almost like a human reenactment of the killing of Harambe the gorilla, only this time the ape is human.

But for me- who first saw this video around 2009- this was my first time hearing Maroon 5, who would later become one of my favorite bands. Shortly after, I remember watching one of his interviews (with Chelsea Handler, I think) and he seemed so fuckin nice and down to earth, like he could be your waiter at Ruby Tuesday or something. I remember he talked about thin crust pizza a lot and how this one restaurant that we should all try has the best thin crust pizza in the world. And this was the guy who in music videos was literally killing people and hiding their corpses in undisclosed locations within the LA underworld. 

So what in the fuck happened in the last decade regarding Maroon 5’s career? Since “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long,” (the album with “Wake Up Call” and “Makes Me Wonder”) Maroon 5’s next several albums became more and more pop-sounding, and while each new release seems to have one or two radio hits, it felt that the world was less and less excited by Maroon 5 with each album, and I don’t even think the change in genre has anything to do with it. Sure, maybe they’ve “sold out” musically, but so have plenty of artists in order to reflect whatever’s going on. Here’s the thing with Maroon 5: even as their sound has shifted from funky pop rock to radio friendly autotone pop, their lyrics are about THE EXACT SAME SHIT on every single album.

Such lyrical content consists of, pervasively, Adam going on and on about how sexy he is, or complaining about yet another failed relationship, but not in a way that’s particularly heartfelt, relatable, or personal, like Taylor Swift’s lyrics, for example. Taylor has survived (roughly) the same amount of time as Maroon 5 (mid 2000s to today) but is still extremely relevant. Her new albums are all unique, and deeply personal lyrically. Adam’s lyrics, over the last fifteen years, don’t seem to reflect any kind of personal growth or change. Instead, he seems to be making the same mistakes over and over. 

A few (theoretical) lines you’ll hear in nearly every Maroon 5 song ever:

-i’M SORRYYY

-i don’ giveafuck anymoOooH

-i wanna break up but I can’ stop fuckin you 

-goodByyYYYe 

(Admit it, you read these in his voice.)

Additionally, it’s a truism that we have learned a lot more about Adam Levine in the past decade, and it hasn’t exactly made us like him more. He went from the cool guy with the unique falsetto voice to the guy we knew familiarly on “The Voice,” which in the long term left a huge pile of dogshit on his public reputation. No longer was he the guy who made those cool music videos, but instead, he became the guy who did and said all this shit we found annoying and made wrong judgments regarding other people. Seriously, who the hell is more hated in our society than judges on televised talent shows?

Similarly, in the age of social media, Adam’s Instagram and other accounts can be considered on the “I don’t know how to do this shit” end of celebrity social media accounts, usually memes about sex mixed with extremely thirst trap-y shirtless selfies with captions like “I’D ONLY KICK YOU OUT OF BED TO FUCK YOU ON THE FLOOR” and other selfies/captions that made us all want to reach for the nearest barf bag and blow chunks till kingdom come. 

However, all of these weapons of career destruction would be minimal if it wasn’t for their atrocious, cringeworthy Super Bowl XIII performance in 2019. 

If the release of “Memories” was the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to Maroon 5’s career, then the Super Bowl appearance would be like 9/11. For starters, they were paired up with Travis Scott, who in a lot of ways is to hip hop what Maroon 5 is to pop, in that “WE FUCKING GET IT” can be heard almost universally whenever he releases a new album. Plus the combination of the two was just kind of odd. Hearing the two were performing together at the Big Game, I almost felt like Larry David in the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm when Jeff was describing what would be on the sandwich named after him: “white fish, cream cheese, capers!” Etc etc. 

The concert itself can be described as, at best, a cringey buddy cop movie, epitomizing at the point Adam ripped off his shirt. Even if we’d never heard Maroon 5 before, this would still be cringey as hell. But here we are, watching Adam Levine rip his shirt off and sing the songs we’ve heard literally every single day on the radio or on the telly for the last decade and a half.

The memes for the show were fuckin great, that is the one thing we got out of it. The best one, in my humble opinion, showed a guy holding a sign that said “OUR EXPECTATIONS FOR YOU WERE LOW, BUT HOLY FUCK” with the caption “Super Bowl LIII halftime show”

Another showed Adam shirtless with all his tats, with the caption: “ADAM LEVINE WAS BORN WITH NO NIPPLES, THOSE ARE TATTOOED ON.” 

Bottom text: “HE ALSO WASNT BORNED WITH ANY MUSIC TALENT.”

Another meme: Adams shirt is ripped off. The caption: “LISTEN UP MOTHERFUCKERS, THIS SONG IS CALLED SHE WILL BE FUCKIN LOVED.”

If I were Adam Levine, I would consider myself accomplished and one of a kind, a famous and cool guy with a great career, and peacefully retire before doing anything else too cringey. To paraphrase the ending of Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” if they euthanize Gregor, they can remember him for what he was, rather than having him stay alive and do more fucked up shit (I don’t know, that’s a horrible analogy but you get the point.) I would say Maroon 5 is faced with the same bitter reality. 

On the other hand though, if there is no more Maroon 5, how will future generations know about them? Will my grandchildren listen to Maroon 5 the way I listen to the Stones? It’s hard to say, whether or not Adam Levine’s legacy will in fact have the moves like Jagger. 

 

My favorite Maroon 5 songs

-Wake Up Call

-Must Get Out

-Sunday Morning

-The Sun

-This Love

-Stutter

-Makes Me Wonder

-Misery

-Sugar

-Sweetest Goodbye


Submitted: June 28, 2021

© Copyright 2021 CJ Spuddz. All rights reserved.

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