Now, I don’t want to say that Maroon 5 is untalented, which is why I am writing it in this post. It seems less than coincidental that the bands only two hits from whatever their most recent album is called – I assume they released one despite the fact that why would you ever do that – have featured other artists. Basically what I am saying is that, on their own, they’re not really enough of a drawcard. Their comical blandness is hardly helping matters, but I guess comical blandness is what lands you the number 3 song in America and Australia.
Preliminary research suggests that the song likely would never have actually been a thing if it weren’t for frontman Adam Levine’s involvement with The Voice, which was basically a free ad for his shitty song to 10 million people every week. Who wouldn’t do the same thing? And I don’t begrudge the song’s popularity, really, because it’s hardly offensively omnipresent nor aggressively bad. It’s kinda like a fart, but just a silent and odourless one.
The most bizarre thing about this song is how dated it is, in so many ways. That seems to be a running theme lately. Maybe it’s less that they’re dated and more that decade-old pop revivalism is afoot. Either way, if they’re going to hearken back to that era they could do a better job of it. Aside from the song being titled Payphone – psssst no one uses those anymore – it’s just that it sounds vaguely like a man covering a Stacey Orrico b-side, if such a thing exists.
The song also commits the cardinal sin of trying to be meta or whatever the fuck. Basically, this:
If happy ever after did exist
I would still be holding you like this
And all those fairytales are full of shit
One more fucking love song, I’ll be sick
Can we seriously put this to bed? Because like, there’s basically not a single artist that hasn’t written a love song. There are, however, plenty who haven’t been dumb enough to talk shit about love songs despite having written many. Seriously, it’s basically never used to positive effect: Sara Bareilles’s Love Song, Amiel’s Lovesong, and so forth. Please, pop songwriters, just stop.
man fuck that shit
I’ll be out spending all this money while you sitting round
Wondering why it wasn’t you who came out from nothing
Made it from the bottom
Now when you see me I’m stuntin
And all of my cars start with a push up a button
Telling me the chances I blew up or whatever you call it
That’s part of Wiz Khalifa’s rap. I don’t know what a Wiz Khalifa is. Is it like, a urinary tract infection? An urban sorcerer? Either way, I have no fucking clue what it has to do with the rest of the song.
Levine is typically abrasive, his whiny voice is never something that quite feels natural. But what makes it feel unnatural hear is how preposterously soaked in autotune it is. This was something slightly noticeable in Moves Like Jagger but here it barely even sounds like he’s singing. The guy can hit notes, why does he need autotune? Is it because it’s an electronic/synth-laden song and something acoustic would be totally out of place? I don’t get it. I don’t get it one bit.
Payphone lives up to its name, though: it’s something that hasn’t really been a thing for half a decade, it’s grimy, and smells vaguely of pee.