What’s happened to Maroon 5? They won over the world in 2002 with Songs About Jane and its hits “Harder to Breathe”, “This Love”, “She Will Be Loved” and “Sunday Morning.” I can’t even type out those track titles without hearing the songs replay in my head. Five years later, the band came back with a relatively strong second album, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, with singles “Makes Me Wonder”, “Won’t Go Home Without You”, and “Wake Up Call”. Again, I’m already hearing those tunes in my head. For some time, there was silence on the radio. I was starting to think that Maroon 5 had stopped making music. Then, along came “Moves Like Jagger.”
When I first heard “Moves Like Jagger” and its infectious whistle melody, I didn’t even recognize that it was Maroon 5, despite Levine’s singing; that’s how far it was from their typical work. Naturally, it became a worldwide best-selling single. It came from Hands All Over, which otherwise didn’t generate much excitement.
Inspired by the success of “Moves Like Jagger,” Levine decided to take the band in a new direction for their newest album Overexposed, and that direction isn’t exactly a secret; just think about the title for a second. There’s plenty of room for the old Maroon 5 on the charts, but instead they decided that they wanted to squeeze in up among the top rankings, the “overexposed” territory. I don’t usually blame a band for sweetening up their tunes until they become radio candy; a person has to make a living. But c’mon, really, Maroon 5? They had it good (enough), and now they’re just being greedy.
There’s an overall lack of sincerity (which was one of my favorite characteristics of the band) that really gets to me while listening to the album. “Payphone,” the lead single for the album, is a less sincere version of “She Will Be Loved.” (However, if you’re in the mood to watch Levine star in a high-speed chase, check out the music video.) In “Sad,” Levine makes an okay attempt at a piano ballad, but it just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album. Songs like “Lucky Strike,” “Love Somebody,” and “Doin’ Dirt” beg to be made into dance remixes, though the originals (in a scary way) might be able to stand as they are. It’s a bizarre sound coming from Maroon 5; it barely sounds like there’s a band behind Levine. The closing track “Beautiful Goodbye” is little more genuine, but it’s too little too late. Overexposed is a hit-seeking missile that just barely hits the target.