On the 27th of May, 2004 – it was a Thursday – I downloaded (potentially illegally, likely from the in vogue peer-to-peer network Kazaa) Maroon 5’s ‘Harder To Breathe’. There isn’t much I remember distinctly about my early days of commercial music consumption apart from those parent favourited tracks that became indelibly imprinted on my impressionable mind but coming home after being gripped by those sharp snare beats, that funky bass line and (the then largely unknown and accordingly nonirritating) Adam Levine’s sneaky falsetto and declaring that this was going to be a hit is one thing I recall with surprising clarity. I also vividly recollect older, grungier, unquestionably more worldly Brother J scoffing at the suggestion and holding, resolutely, that the band were just a flash in the pan and that ‘Harder To Breathe’, as arresting and undeniably immediate as it was, as much as it challenged what I had come to know as pop and as much as I couldn’t shake those riffs from my head, was a one hit wonder.
Brother J was wrong. There are institutional investors who lament the day they politely declined to angel invest in that little startup that could, who now rue the day they turned down that Zuckerberg/Page/Gates kid and her/his pie in the sky ideas. In the boom-and-bust world of music, where popular tastes are probably even more fickle than they are in the tech world, retrospect is a dangerous thing. If, by some wonderful twist of fate, there existed a betting market for bands back in 2003, I would have put almost everything on Maroon 5 and their debut ‘Songs For Jane’. If I had a buck for every one of the 2.7million copies the pop-rock group from Los Angeles sold… If, if, if. Needless to say, I would have seriously cashed out right before what I see as the bust with 2010’s ‘Hands All Over’ that propelled ‘Moves Like Jagger‘ to becoming one of the most irritating songs of the last five years. It may have sold a million copies but it blew. ‘It Won’t Be Soon Before Long’ in between (2007) I don’t remember accurately but as a sophomore effort, it’s unlikely I would have bailed out just then.
So what of the Maroon 5 of 2012? After Adam Levine took on The Voice and pretty much became Maroon 5 (see, for instance, the ‘Misery’ clip which co-stars his IRL girlfriend), then the ‘pop-ROCK’ band took on the production talents of Max Martin, Benny Blanco and Ryan ‘OneRepublic’ Tedder and made a fairly terrible song with Wiz Khalifa, things weren’t, how do you say, looking up. And indeed, I can’t speak for the whole of the ‘Overexposed’ album released in June, but I can say that ‘One More Night’ is the first Maroon 5 song since ‘Songs For Jane’ all those years ago with that actually has me remembering why I would have invested in the quintet. The cooky melody line, pinball sound effects and tropical ‘Tide Is High’ feel to all of it isn’t the Maroon 5 who created such hybrid, pop/rock sounds back in 04. M5 have been gentrified, commercialised and superproducerfied almost beyond recognition. But it’s that chorus that gets me every time. There is so much wrong with this song, particularly given the band’s transgressive-for-pop origins, that it feels embarrassing to associate with. It remains, however, one of the best pop songs I’ve heard this year. I’m no compulsive gambler, but with ‘One More Night’ I’d be willing to take a punt on these guys again.
Maroon 5 – One More Night