After years of heading further and further away from actual rock music, it finally happened. It was only a matter of time before Maroon 5 completely sold out and turned themselves over to the world of pop. Some might say that much was clear from the beginning, but after replaying Songs About Jane a few more times, it becomes evident that this band wasn’t always heading down that track. Sure they were on the lighter side of rock with spunky, happy songs (the majority of which were about sex). But at one point in time, Maroon 5 was a regular rock band. Now it’s not entirely clear whether they even play instruments anymore. With the release of Overexposed, any pretenses that Maroon 5 was anything more than Adam Levine’s poppy, one-man show have gone completely out the window. The musicianship is gone, the “clever” lyrics about Levine’s many encounters and experiences with women have been so overdone that they’ve gotten stale and at this point, the only way the band was going to sell any records was to churn out dance-y songs with an uptempo beat to win people over on the radio waves. Overexposed is without a doubt the worst Maroon 5 album to date, but will likely find a home in mainstream America with radio-friendly, watered down pop songs with little more substance than a catchy beat and Levine’s ever-enticing voice. It’s sad to see how far this band has fallen after rightfully finding success with their wonderful debut album, but at this point, if you’re still listening to Maroon 5, you’ve been eagerly anticipating for this full transition into pop.
“One More Night” quickly reveals the new and unfavorable direction Maroon 5 has taken into the pop genre as Levine’s opening cooing (with the help of auto tune) sets off one of many lyrically simple songs with a catchy beat in the background. At this point, it shouldn’t be surprising that the guitar is barely audible over all the electronic-made beats, which includes the drums. “One More Night” is catchy, fun and lyrically simple in its description of sexual conquest; no doubt it’ll find mainstream success on the radio.
What Wiz Khalifa or his random rap verse have to do with anything in the second standout track of Overexposed is unclear, but “Payphone” is still a solid track that actually deserves to find radio time. Levine weaves a sad tale of love lost and the pain behind it, and even though it’s to a backdrop of another peppy beat, the emotion behind the song is there and makes this track worth listening to. “Payphone” is still more watered down pop music meant for the masses, but the lyrics behind it are some of the most heartfelt found on Overexposed and Levine’s sweet vocals give this sad tale extra validity as the best track on the album.
“Lucky Strike” is another mindless, computer-generated, dance-fest meant for night clubs and jamming out to in the car, complete with a lively beat, simple lyrics and Levine’s appealing voice. But what’s striking about this song is that despite the fact that it’s so artistically simple and unimaginative, it still isn’t as bad as the rest of the album. A chorus dominated by Levine alternating between “Whoa-oh-oh” and “My lucky strike” hardly qualifies as an intelligent or interesting song, but its catchy and jump-up-and-down rhythm undoubtedly raises its value on an album filled with similar songs that don’t quite reach the appeal of “Lucky Strike.”
Maroon 5 struck gold when they found a unique and entertaining way of singing about love and sex and all the good and bad things that come with it in Songs About Jane, so they can only be blamed so much for exploiting that winning formula over and over again. Even the decent follow-up, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, showed those signs; when Adam Levine sings about yet another sexual encounter, instead of noticing that this is the same content simply rehashed, people listen. That may be part of the problem, but whatever the case, the reality is that Maroon 5 has turned its back on musicianship and being a rock band in favor of cranking out the same old material to a catchier backdrop. Whether or not you’re fooled by this new approach is irrelevant, because the masses are going to keep paying for it and Maroon 5 will continue to use Levine’s incredible vocal talents to draw attention away from the fact that this is barely a real band anymore. Songs About Jane rightfully found success, but that success quickly turned Maroon 5 from a rock band into the Adam Levine show, and ever since then, the progression toward the pop genre has been all but inevitable. Overexposed isn’t bad for a pop album; Levine’s vocals and the catchy beats in the background make it pretty enjoyable if you’re into that sort of thing. But if you miss the band with clever and original lyrics whose stories were once entertaining (and actually had audible guitars and drums in the background), stay away from Overexposed. Maroon 5’s newest album is nothing new for long-time fans (how many more times do we have to hear Levine sing about saying goodbye?) and gives no reason to have faith the music will find its way back to the band that actually played instruments at one time. For the musically-deficient, the mainstream pop style of Overexposed will offer something too enjoy, but for those who don’t get fooled into enjoying the replacement of artistry with computer beats should see that Maroon 5’s newest album displays nothing short of disappointment and unimaginative lyrics (“I’m so sad” does not qualify as a striking or emotional turning point for any song, unfortunately). Maroon 5 has ultimately sold out and finished its transformation into the Adam Levine Show, but for those who don’t mind the final stage of this gradual change will find something to enjoy with Overexposed. The rest of the rock-respecting crowd might not be so lucky.
Final Score: 4.8/10
Rank: 4th (four total albums)
- One More Night
- Payphone (Feat. Wiz Khalifa)
- Lucky Strike
- The Man Who Never Lied
- Love Somebody
- Fortune Teller
- Doin’ Dirt
- Beautiful Goodbye