June 20, 2012
A&M Octone/ UMG
1. One More Night // 2. Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) // 3. Daylight // 4. Lucky Strike // 5. The Man Who Never Lied // 6. Love Some Body // 7. Lady Killer // 8. Fortune Teller // 9. Sad // 10. Tickets // 11. Doin Dirt // 12. Beautiful Goodbye
13. Wipe Your Eyes // 14. Wasted Year // 15. Kiss // 16. Moves Like Jagger (feat. Christina Aguilera) // 17. Payphone [Supreme Cuts Remix] (feat. Wiz Khalifa) // 18. Payphone [Cutmore Remix] (feat. Wiz Khalifa) // 19. Payphone [Sound of Arrows Remix] (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
What constitutes a sellout? Did Maroon 5 trade in credibility for cold hard cash? A lot of other reviewers, as well as fans certainly think that Overexposed is a perfect example of a sellout and yes, they did.
To this reviewer this is not a question that’s easy to answer. One could go either way arguing, really. While Maroon 5 has always been about catchy radio-ready songs and never seemed to give a fuck about high culture credibility (which was good for them because they never got any accordingly) one could usually argue in their defence that in spite of their lack of innovative music-making they at the very least were a skilled traditional soul-influenced rock band, bringing many times some oft needed warm organic sounds to EDM and hip-hop dominated charts.
But with their ballsily titled fourth/fifth studio album of original material Overexposed they throw this shred of cred out the window so that Adam can finally be the electro disco diva he always envisioned himself to be, and which the success of their über-catchy, Christina Aguilera-featuring novelty hit Moves Like Jagger, which is present both on their last album Hands All Over and here as a bonus-track, finally allows him to be. (Well, in terms of success anyway. Makes Me Wonder and If I Never See Your Face Again already hinted at this artistic direction, but they never became as huge hits as Jagger did.)
This would be just fine if this were marketed as Levine’s solo-debut album, but since it is dubbed an M5 album it really makes one wonder how much imput the other four had. Overexposed for the most part doesn’t sound like four-to-five humans playing instruments, with one of them singing.
Also the list of producers recruited for Overexposed, and especially its opening salvo (Max Martin, Shellback, Benny Blanco) seem to have purposely been selected to push M5 in an EDM direction, one that requires but a person with a laptop with fl studio on it and a keyboard and a vocalist to make music, not a five piece band. The rock-influences (they had been a full rock band on their ’97 debut) have now fully and completely disappeared, which they had gradually been doing bit by bit, album by album anyway. This is EDM influenced R&B pop.
The resulting album is quite the quilty pleasure. From the Rihanna-esque Max Martin produced pop-reggae of One More Night, through the Wiz Khalifa-featuring android-Coldplay of Payphone. These songs would work equally well in the club as they would on M.O.R. radio.
And since M5 never really rocked hard you’d have to pay attention to actually notice them landing in their usual more acoustic, less robotic groove on Daylight, and find a way to succesfully blend both styles on the exuberant Lucky Strike, which manages to approach Jagger in is sheer mindless fun and catchyness.
The Man Who Never Lied manages to slyly incorporate the rhythm of this generation, dubstep in a glossy pop song and again blends electronic with the human in a manner that should get some heads to nod and some foots to tap.
Love Somebody is glossy new wave/ disco pop that’s tailor made for the discotheque and as such is works fine.
Lady Killer distinctly sounds like the Maroon 5 of olde with it’s very human, mildly funky groove and lyrics about heartbreak on the dancefloor and what not, and for longtime fans it should come as a breath of fresh air.
Love Somebody is glossy new wave/ disco pop that’s tailor made for the discotheque and as such is pretty functional.
Fortune Teller and Tickets are pretty decent, pretty straightforward GaGa ripoffs, What’s that? What are you complaining about? Bounce, bitch, bounce!
Sad is the first actual ballad on here and consists of nothing but Adam’s singing and a piano accompaniment. It sounds like the sort of vocal display that the Voice-participants would perform to impress the jury.
Doin’ Dirt is some stroboscope-shining disco for the ecstasy generation and constitutes the last call to the dancefloor, before Beautiful Goodbye‘s slow tempo initiates the slow dance that should draw you and the person you want to take home and bed together and finally break the ice.
(For those sticking around for the after-party, in the bonus track section you will find Moves Like Jagger as a fitting encore, as well as a rockabilly cover of Prince’s Kiss that is actually pretty innovative, but doesn’t fit on Overexposed, a song that blends early naughties Justin Timberlake and some big band horns called Wasted Year and finally three asinine remixes of Payphone in a row that all sound exactly the same as the original version.)
Now, back to the question posed in the beginning of the review. What constitutes a sellout? Did M5 sell their soul (no pun intended) just to sell records the way many other reviewers claim?
Here at DITC the jury is still out, actually. On the one hand, as was said earlier; M5 was never about very substantial music, not even during their “grunge” days, and Overexposed doesn’t sound forced. It is entirely possible Adam and co. enjoyed fucking around with some new sounds (even if everyone else was fucking with those exact same sounds at the exact same time, Adam is well known to not be a very picky guy) On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the record label liked the extra revenue Jagger brought about and told the guys to deliver another dozen of those.
Who cares with results this catchy? Overexposed is a party, a very slight party, but one worth attending anyway. And whoever’s idea it was making an electro-dance record, it wasn’t a completely horrible one. Especially considering what a relative clunker Hands All Over was. And even though I still think this more as a producers-driven Adam Levine solo album on which his band-buddies only get to play along on a couple of tracks. But that doesn’t mean in any way there’s not a wealth of catchy ass-shakers on here, because there is (more than on Hands All Over but less than on IWBSBL). Hopefully the guys will swiftly return to what got them a fanbase and made them, you know, a band with their own sound, and it remains to be seen whether anyone will listen to this in ten years (except Jagger, which is one for the ages) but for now this is a very catchy, well put-together album for the summer. And that is certainly worth something.
One More Night
Moves Like Jagger)
Pick this up, you should go for the deluxe edition. Even if it contains it’s fair share of meh tracks, there’s even more pop music that’s catchier than ebola.