Maroon 5 have become a barometer for today’s pop standards.
Fraser McAlpine 2012
Everyone has friends that don’t wish to keep up with the daily goings-on in global popular music, but like the odd update now and again so as not to feel left out and fossily. Maroon 5 are fast becoming their perfect band, being a fairly reliable and glossy barometer of how modern pop songs work – give or take a dubstep breakdown here or there.
So if the melodies on their fourth album have become more fragmented and repetitive, that’s because pop music tunes have gone that way too. One More Night’s melody can’t go more than a bar or two without repeating – as if the band is worried it may forget itself – or getting stuck on a Morse code note for a while, just like a Rihanna song would.
And if their choruses have abandoned the strutting cockerel heat of This Love in favour of the saturated rave bliss of Love Somebody or The Man Who Never Lied, that’s simply the effect of market they have chosen to operate within.
They are also keenly aware that today’s pop does not require much in the way of unattended music. Adam Levine fires up that nasal yelp as soon as the song begins, and does not let up until the fadeout. Wiz Khalifa (guest rapper on Payphone) gets more space at the front of the stage than the rest of his band do.
The exception is the Jacko-channelling (and distinctly old-fashioned) Ladykiller, which boasts an actual guitar solo. Otherwise every passing second is a vocal battle against a declining attention span, like a clicked finger in the face, forever.
Even the sequencing of the songs betrays this fear. All the compressed pop bangers – worked up with proven song-finishers like Ryan Tedder, Savan Kotecha and Brian West – are at the front, so you don’t wander off too soon.
If you think these factors combine to suggest a collective lack of confidence or personality, take heart: Overexposed boasts cover art so kaleidoscopically brash and ugly it makes you grateful for the decline of vinyl.