Maroon 5 – overexposed and underperforming

Written by: Sion Smith


It’s occurred to me this evening that the thing I thought everybody knew about music (or any other creative art for that matter), less than a few percent actually do.

Oh, there’s a Maroon 5 album review in here somewhere, but you’re going to have to work for it.

Maroon 5 have recently come out swaggering and laughing that they are indeed, ‘overexposed’. But they needn’t worry. Unless they get their shit together, it won’t last must longer.

Adam Levine in Maroon 5

“Huh? You want to hear something with a melody? No can do, son.”

When a band delivers the same kind of thing over and over, the creativity returns to the source for some other artist to make use of. What you essentially begin to do is copy yourself and that’s not good for anybody. In ten years, I know which tracks by Maroon 5 they’ll be playing on the radio – and it won’t be anything from this album (as good as it actually is) because they have done better songs of this type on previous albums. The result being that you might as well go for the really good stuff instead of the it’s kind of OK good stuff.

You can throw a lot of grenades at a band like Queen but they always grew as a band. You can throw those same bombs at David Bowie too if you wish. Pick some material from almost any album and people will be pleased to hear it. On no day in history, ever, did a DJ drop the needle onto Young Americans and the listeners rang up to complain that he should be playing Ziggy Stardust or Space Oddity.

That’s not an analogy that’s likely to happen with Maroon 5.

And the shit end of the stick in this equation is that if there’s one pop band out there at the moment who are capable of doing that and pulling it off, it’s Maroon 5. They are one talented bunch of hit song-writers, but this path? This path leads to the dry well. The dry well into which you drop your bucket and find no water when you need it most. Many have visited this well.

Rihanna – who started out like a machine full of promise – has fallen into this well. These days, she sounds like any other. More than once I’ve said to the kids while we’ve been driving “Is this Rihanna or Beyonce?” – and sometimes even they have to think. I guess that’s what music video promos are for these days. So that you can see who’s performing and know who it is.

Think about it. True fact.

So what we need right now, is for a band to really come out swinging and put it on the line for the sake of the future. They’ll get knocked about a bit at first, but those knocks will enable them to pick up a new audience and those people are the ones who fill up the well in the dry season. Leona Lewis carving up a slice of Nine Inch Nails to the point it was hardly recognisable but still brilliant in its execution? That’s what I’m talking about. Why not get Reznor on board and see what happens? If it sucks, bury it and let the die-hards find it on the web, but man, you have to try. Metallica and Lou Reed? Didn’t work out so well but they shot for the hoop and that alone is respectable. Tom Jones and Jessie J? Sounds great – and there’s another guy who reinvents himself (or maybe he just aligns himself with the right people) to keep going decade after decade long after his peers are forgotten. Adam Faith anybody?

Maroon 5 can do this. Maybe they need to go and see some shows. Maybe check out a band like Our Lady Peace and get a little inspired from elsewhere. There are many artists who understand this now. Luckily, there are also some artists who understood this before it was too late to do something about it. Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree. Maybe it’s not supposed to last forever. Maybe ten minutes is all we get but that would be a crying shame because if you’re smart and find no water in the well, you’ll call it a day and save yourself some personal hurt. Flogging a dead horse is painful for everybody – particularly for the horse.

If you’re not very good at reading between the lines, Overexposed is a pretty good album. I can live with it, but I could have lived without it too. You won’t be massively disappointed but you won’t be playing it in the car over the summer either. Songs About Jane and Won’t Be Soon will be taking care of that task for you – and that’s not really the result the band will have been looking for…




Author: Sion Smith

My name is Sion Smith. I write about rock music, books and pop-culture – kind of like a rock n roll Nick Hornby or maybe Hank Moody with hair. Sion is pronounced as in Sean Connery/Shawn Michaels – take your pick. If you’re interested, it’s Welsh. I'm also the editor of Skin Deep, the biggest selling tattoo magazine in the UK and harbour designs on writing for Doctor Who – these two things are not related. Aside from that, I’m currently working on a TV screenplay called Fox On The Run and also contribute articles to The Void - which you know already because you're here. You can jump on the feed of my own blog at sionsmith.co.uk.

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