Maroon 5 transcends the realms of the music industry to the forefront of pop culture today. Thanks to the marketability and appeal of their front man, singer and now actor, Adam Levine who landed a stint in primetime TV series “The Voice”, as well as starring in a major movie role.
Levine’s charisma and manly suave has given the band a larger-than-life image. However, notice that the band lineup changed once since the release of their debut album “Songs About Jane” (the departure of drummer Ryan Dusick). Despite the surge in popularity, the band’s musical savvy and chemistry hasn’t regressed at all. Since their formation as a modest four-piece named “Kara’s Flowers”, Maroon 5 managed to pull of the remarkable feat of constantly reinventing their sound whilst at the same time, retaining the same musical crescendo and substance that endeared to multiple fan bases.
Thirteen years after the release of their first album “Songs About Jane” which is, surprisingly their most complex effort to date, carries lyrics that are raunchy as one can get.
Initially, the album felt little success that the band had hoped the album would be. It was only a year after “This Love” was released that the band never got the chance to look back.
The debut album collated heavy influences from R&B and jazz powered by Levine’s trademark falsetto. It also made Levine as a sex symbol intensified by the release of their music videos that featured Levine engaging in steamy make-out scenes. These music video prompted MTV to release clean version of the video.
The band slowly transitioned to a funkier, more upbeat vibe reminiscent of Prince with the release of their sophomore album “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long”. Tracks such as “Can’t Stop” and “Little of Your Time” replaced the somber guitars of the previous album with simpler chord progressions of guitarist James Valentine. This was done without compromising the power ballad feel that gave the the band mainstream attention.
Come the next album, the band would take its biggest risk by transitioning to power pop with the release of their smash single “Moves Like Jagger.”
The release of “Hands All Over” made the band a pop icon and became prominent in the industry since then. Their new sound, however, further attracted the casuals. The timing was ingenious when “Moves Like Jagger” strategically coincided with the premiere of “The Voice”.
Music pundits were quick to slam the album for the band seeming to have “gone too far from their roots”, but it was, in fact,the band’s response to survive the industry with new and younger contemporaries.
Levine stated in a 2010 LA Times interview that their change had to be a precedent to the new found exposure (hence the title of their next album); “for the first time in our career we were behind every song passionately”.
The release of 2012’s “Overexposed” was a collection of potential hits waiting to be played on the radio. This was the band expanding its musical spectrum, radically collaborating with rapper Wiz Khalifa in their hit “Payphone”.
The band’s genre-bending album was praised and criticized; for the lengths they went to as innovative as possible, it was definitely a stark contrast with how stripped down they once were back in their first album.
Today, “V” managed to showcase the band’s continued versatility. The advent of electronic music acts has been a precursor for the band (this time as the old guard) to make their sound as refreshing as possible.
Maroon 5’s most notable element is their lyrics that spoke of the intensity of falling in love –the euphoria, and the heartbreak. It is how raw and delicate their lyrics were crafted and stayed visible throughout their follow-up releases.
Lyrics such as “I’ve had you so many times but somehow I want more”, or “take my breath away, make everyday worth all of the pain that I’ve gone through” embody the burdens of a heavy heart, one in which the listener can clearly identify himself/herself with. Notice that the album releases a ballad as a single where the lyrics is most audible, and conveys ultimately, the essence of the band’s craftsmanship.
Maroon 5’s reinvention can be identified as a comprehensive repackaging from one album to another. It was not just regulated to their shift to a more layered pop synths and hooks, but a top to bottom effort: from the producers, promoters, to the collaborations.
For their latest effort “V”, the band acquired big name producers Ryan Tedder and Sia, and their collaborations were as diverse as you can get. The risk of their experimentation came with a backlash, especially those that had appreciated the grittier, more intimate version of the band.
In an industry where it is impossible to be universally praised, Maroon 5 embraces the challenge of dancing the fine line between two sides of the spectrum. For them, it is taking the elements of the hungry young band formed out of high school to the current day mainstream chart-toppers. They do this while retaining the lyrics and melodies that continue to capture the hearts of many. From the rate they are going today, it doesn’t seem to appear that Adam Levine and company would be stepping down anytime soon.
And to experience this Maroon 5 musical transformation, catch them on September 17, 2015 at the Mall of Asia Arena for their Maroon 5 Live in Manila Concert presented by SMART and Spinnr with FOX, MMILive and Live Nation.