"Fangirl, why are you reviewing pop music when you despise it with all your being?"
That statement is untrue. Pop music was all I knew for a decent chunk of my childhood. It was easy to find and nearly everyone knew the songs I was talking about. Then I hit a phase when I spent my days bashing everything pop music offered. Now, I'm slowly leaning back towards the genre to the point I can tolerate some songs or artists without feeling too guilty. Maroon 5 is one of them.
My dad and I adore Songs About Jane. Sure, "This Love", "She Will Be Loved", and "Sunday Morning" were played to death back in 2002, but these were strong, versatile tracks full of energy. This was pop music in which I could actually hear guitars, drums, even pianos playing. If I can hear any of these things over the highly produced and polished electronic whines and obvious autotune, I tend to be a happy camper. Songs About Jane felt so organic that it's one of my favorite albums of all time. It easily sits with Smash Mouth's Astro Lounge as awesome albums to blast and sing to on a long road trip.
Then came It Won't Be Soon Before Long. And Hands All Over. Maroon 5 took a completely radical 180 turn that rubbed me the wrong way. Every now and then I get hints of the band trying to be, well, a band again ("Misery" in particular), but they continue to sound like overproduced, processed sludge. At one point they may have been considered funk rock, but by this point, they are exclusively pop. There is hardly any "rock" left in them. And "Payphone" is only solidifying this fact.
The song on its own is decent, but I don't see how it's hit-worthy. The melody is nicer and catchier than most of Maroon 5's recent works, yet it's very... weak. Other than being childishly simple, the lyrics are nothing to write home about either ("One more f***ing love song, I'll be sick" and "I gave you my love to borrow"... really?) Without Adam Levine's higher-than-normal vocals, I could see this being anyone else's song. It's so bland that it sounds like Fall Out Boy's "Me and You" sped up and chipmunk-ed. Or maybe this was a rejected Linkin Park song during the Minutes to Midnight era. Even HIM could make this if Ville was drunk-stupid and suicidal. Besides, Maroon 5 was once so easy to spot in the sea of samey-sounding music. Now they dropped whatever potential for unique flavor they had just to sell out.
"Selling out" is an overused phrase thrown by angry fans once their favorite acts go corporate and fit in with the latest music trend. Arguably, Linkin Park seems to be testing their luck with this to not much success. But with the nonsensical "Moves Like Jagger", Adam Levine in The Voice, and a guest rapper in this mediocre song, I think "selling out" describes Maroon 5 well.
This is far from Maroon 5's worst, but this continues to solidify my doubts that this band can be interesting again. They don't have to try to be edgy, but they could at least sound like they're trying to have fun. Where's the energy, the passion of the music? Where are the instruments? Clearly they were left to die trapped in a locked box, or executives successfully drowned them in varnish. This sterile piece of "meh" is okay, but from what these guys showed before, this is yet another big disappointment.
Really, I cannot say anything more.
With Rap: 1.3 out of 5
W/out Rap: 2 out of 5