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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Is This Thing On?: On Maroon 5 and youthfulness

When someone mentions Maroon 5, the mind likely conjures images of not the entire band, but of lead singer and guitarist Adam Levine. Contrary to popular belief, Maroon 5 is composed of more than just their frontman, and it actually now has seven members. Unfortunately for the new guys, I guess Maroon 7 didn't have the same ring. Although they continue to top the charts today, the band is actually older than most of the seniors at Tufts. In 1994, the original members met as teens in Los Angeles and performed under the name “Kara’s Flowers.”After perusing their first albums, I'll say that if Weezer and Boys Like Girls had a child, Maroon 5 would have been it. Yet amid so many of the other similar male bands of the '90s, I think Maroon 5’s sleek and crisp sound may have been refreshing and more appealing to a wider audience than Kara’s Flowers. Could it have been Levine’s sweet angelic voice that set them apart? Possibly.

“Songs About Jane” (2002) rebranded the newly renamed Maroon 5 as soulful, sensual and a touch angsty. Although the album didn’t find immediate success, it eventually became certified platinum four times over. Aptly titled, the album features the recurring theme of Levine’s high school sweetheart Jane, who inspired each song to varying degrees.

Over the decades, Maroon 5 has shown quite a bit of character growth, but perhaps not in the direction we would have expected. From garage rock band to neo-soul pop to a dabbling in electronic sounds today, their latest album is almost unrecognizable from their first. They kind of pulled a Taylor Swift before Taylor Swift made crossing into pop a big deal. Generally, artists tend to mature as they age. Yet, Maroon 5 is peculiar because they actually seem to have regressed to younger audiences — teenage girls — and more whimsical material. Take “Don’t Wanna Know” (2017), featuring Kendrick Lamar. Experimenting with xylophones and giant bug costumesI welcome their attempt to take themselves less seriously.

Ironically enough, although the members of Maroon 5 have aged into old guys, they made their commercial reputation as a couple of naïve young guys, illustrated well in the “She Will Be Loved” (2002) video. I had actually never seen this video before, probably because I didn’t know how to use a computer back then, but between the cringe-worthy acting and the Mrs. Robinson-esque situation, I highly recommend it for a good laugh.

So my question is, does Maroon 5 'still have it,' or are they starting to feel like the weird uncles of the family? Why does Adam Levine physically not age like the rest of us? Why, with so much initial success on their earlier work, did the band sell out to the pop agenda? Their latest album, “Red Pill Blues” (2017), includes features from the likes of Future, A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar. But also LunchMoney Lewis, so I’m not really sure what they were going for on that one. It's their most synth-heavy album yet, so we'll have to stay tuned for which genre they explore next.