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I Would Sincerely Like To Meet a Person Who Enjoys Maroon 5

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"Why am I famous AT ALL?"

Yesterday, several sources reported that the wildly commercially successful American band/coven of pop-rock vampires Maroon 5 has been in talks to play the 50th Annual Pepsi Nike Verizon Subway Viagra™ Super Bowl Halftime Show. That's the loud music and dancing and flashy-lights part of the big game with the padded men and the odd-shaped leather ball, as my lady brain understands it!

This (not entirely confirmed) choice caught my attention for a few reasons: One, said Super Bowl will be in the Bay Area for the first time in 30 years. This means that Maroon 5, with The Voice coach/tattooed demon prince of douchebags Adam Levine at the helm, will be spending some time in our fair city. The band members will dine in our restaurants (ostensibly on food, not the blood of the young), and sleep in our hotels with their human supermodel wives.

Two, Maroon 5 makes me feel f**cking crazy.

There are a handful of exceedingly successful figures or groups in pop culture who fall into this category for me: Artists who have made an unfathomable amount of money (as of March, Levine was worth an estimated $50 million) based on creating a product that seems, as its defining feature, to be almost aggressively boring. Powerfully mediocre. Singularly middle-of-the-road.

This is not, mind you, pop music snobbery. On the contrary: I like a lot of pop music, and I find pop musicians fascinating. I will wax poetic about the virtues of Taylor Swift or Beyonce or Justin Timberlake or, hell, the Backstreet Boys until you walk away from me at a party. (That BSB documentary, btw, gave me more feelings than I was expecting it to. A discussion, perhaps, for another time.) But this isn't about the cheese factor, nor overproduction, nor cloying melodies, generic songwriting, mathematically-calculated-to-sound-triumphant key changes. In the right context, I can love 'em all.


Do you need more proof? For the bulk of summer 2015, I was obsessed with this track, which is the first single off an album by Uncle Ezra Ray, a self-styled "supergroup" made up of the Uncle Kracker, the guy from Better Than Ezra, and '90s prince douchebag Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. Uncle Ezra Ray.

Now, this is an unequivocally terrible song. The lyrics sound like some poorly translated foreign-language film's idea of American Spring Break. The chorus is repetitive and the breakdown is just the instruments dropping out while McGrath says the moronic chorus again but slower. All of these men are well past their primes. But this is a song that has owned how terrible it is. It knows what it's made of. It's hilariously, entertainingly bad. It's certainly not boring. And that, for me, brings it back around to enjoyable.

Compare and contrast with this, please:

This is an unequivocally bad song that thinks it's a great song. It's going for a "reggae"-influenced vibe, but has appropriated that style in the blandest possible way, slapped a non-melody on it, announced "here is our new reggae-influenced song, which is a very good song" -- and the world somehow buys it. We give them positive reinforcement for it.

"I noticed you borrow the most watered-down aspects of different genres of music and use them to make your music," says the world. "That makes me feel like I'm hearing something different but also I am not challenged or threatened at all by this very good song!" As far as I can tell, this is a Maroon 5 trademark of sorts -- not just changing genres frequently, but tapping into genres historically dominated by black artists, stuffing them through their magically bland Wonka-like sausage machine, and squeezing out an impressively dull and very white kind of musical tapioca. This song spent nine weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2012.

The beauty of being a music fan -- a consumer of any art, really -- is that people have different tastes, and obviously you're allowed to like whatever the hell you want. What I do not understand: Maroon 5 has had five hit studio records, a singles compilation album, and nine gigantic tours over the course of a dozen years. As of August, they've sold 12.9 million total albums in the U.S. Based on all available evidence, the band is very popular with lots of people, many of whom are happy to pay money for Maroon 5's music, and many of whom will probably be very excited to watch them play the Super Bowl Halftime Show. And yet I've never met a single person who likes Maroon 5. Meanwhile, Levine's doucheyness has become such a fact of the zeitgeist that we get blog posts like this.

All of which brings me to the following plea: I would really like to meet a Maroon 5 fan. I'm basically that kid on the side on the road right now, wondering if anyone else has noticed that the emperor has no clothes. Am I completely insane? Are there clothes there, and everyone else can see them but I can't? 

As previously indicated, I am no stranger to insipid pop music fandom; I just want to hear this specific situation explained. If you are a person who likes Maroon 5, please email me at esilvers@kqed.org. I promise I won't be mean to you. Unless you're Adam Levine.


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