I have decided to make an announcement here that I have NEVER told anyone before, except for my wife. Back in the early part of this century, both of my boys were still living at home, as Number One was still in high school while Number Two was in middle school. It was during this time that I was able to stay attuned to the musical likes and dislikes of the millennial generation. Through Number One, I not only got hooked on the neo-garage rockers such as The Strokes and White Stripes or heard the stylings of Jay-5 and his future wife Beyoncè, but I also learned about Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, The Vines, Eminem, Wilco and others even while he was in college.
Yet, there was one band whose debut album that he brought into the house when he was a senior in high school, telling me he had an album that had updated that Eighties’ danceable rock sound for the 21st century. Initially, I was curious by very skeptical. So, I gave the album a cursory listen and then gave it back to him without really evaluating the band’s music. Of course, at the time, I was in the midst of turning my school’s track program around from perennial conference doormats into a regional power, so I was busy and very impatient with new music at the time.
Of course, I was wrong about this band…VERY WRONG. I totally missed the updated version of Hall & Oates of this band’s sound. We all know how much I love it when artists are able to cross-mix genres into their sound. Sure, the band’s lead singer’s presence in a popular singing contest TV show has sent the band into the stratosphere of record sales, but that has turned into more of a positive than a negative. Sure, Maroon 5 is a pop band, but they are a pop band for the ages, not unlike Hall & Oates or ABBA. Let’s face it right here and now! I am a fan of Maroon 5.
So, how in this day and age of the bromance between Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine and country artist, and Mr. Gwen Steffani-wannabe, Black Shelton on The Voice might make one cynical about Levine’s band. But, I could care less. Why? I hate all those stupid singing shows with their faux suspense and drama. Seriously, after Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson, who else has come from one of those shows and become a sustained and accomplished artist? No one that I care to remember. However, I would argue that Levine’s position on The Voice has pushed his creativity further than it might have if he was not on that show. I honestly think that his presence around all those talented artists have rubbed off on him and made Levine a better singer and songwriter.
So, I am a Maroon 5 fan, and I believe that one day, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will have to admit them in the house of the rock immortals. Sure, when Maroon 5 first arrived on the scene, the big pop/rock group with a heavily exposed lead singer was Matchbox 20, whose leader, Rob Thomas, was seemingly everywhere, even writing one of the most popular songs of all-time, “Smooth” by Santana, that huge expectations were placed on Thomas. But, that weight crushed him, his band and his career, unfortunately. But, in Levine’s case, he has become a celebrity on The Voice, all the while submersing himself within Maroon 5’s anonymity. It’s as if he learned Thomas’ lesson and stayed within his band when every media vulture is telling him to fly on his own. It’s as if he understands that he needs his mates from Maroon 5 in order to achieve his dreams as a pop/rock/soul singer in a great band than just another guy with a great voice competing on the latest TV singing show.
So, here’s to my favorite pop/rock/soul band of the new millennium, Maroon 5, as I rank their six studio albums.
6. Overexposed (2012). Yes, this album was a big hit with several big hit songs, but the songs were just a little too weepy for me. Relax guys! Have fun! No one wants there pop/rock/soul stars to be mopey. Fortunately, they didn’t go full-blown Morrissey after this album.
5. V (2014). Even though this album has my favorite M5 song (“This Summer’s Gonna Hurt like a Motherf****r”), the rest of it is just a little TOO poppy. It was as if the band were simply attempting to rediscover the formula of Hands All Over as opposed to the fun found within that album. At least they didn’t create another version of Overexposed, struck out trying to hit a home run.
4. Red Pill Blues (2017). THIS is how Maroon 5 should sound from now on! If the album had more potential hits, it could have been their Bad or Supernatural. They WILL get there. I hope it’s their next one.
3. Songs About Jane (2003). What a great and fresh debut album this album was back in 2003. This was a great album from start to finish. And I love the minor hit song “Sunday Morning.”
2. It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (2007). I cannot believe the band took so much time between their first and second albums (four years), but at least they recognized the need for quality songs. And M5 has them in spades on this album.
1. Hands All Over (2010). As far as Maroon 5 albums are concerned, you cannot go wrong with this one. It has several potential hit songs, even though their duet with former Voice co-star Christina Aguilera, “Moves like Jagger,” stands heads and shoulders above the others. If you are comparing M5 with Daryl Hall & John Oates, Hands All Over is M5’s Voices, a major leap forward.
While it is still relatively early in the band’s career, Maroon 5 is a danceable pop/rock/soul band for the ages. And, I really believe we have not even scratched the surface of what they can do within the studio. I would love to be around them as they create their next album. I have a feeling that this one will be the ONE everyone thinks Maroon 5 can record. Here’s to Maroon 5, the best pop/rock band of the 21st century!