Wednesday, October 12, 2016

MAROON 5 'DON'T WANNA KNOW' FEATURING KENDRICK LAMAR (SONG REVIEW)

By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for maroon 5 2016
     Let me start by saying this.

     I understand that many bands wish to evolve musically throughout their careers. Trying subtly different sounds can help re-energize a group and build further on something special that the group initially started with.

     That's not the case with Maroon 5, the California act who started making soulful pop-rock music and have in the past five years abandoned their identity to chase music trends.

     Ever since 2010's 'Hands All Over' didn't perform as well commercially as their first two albums and lead singer Adam Levine became a judge on 'The Voice', the band's music has taken a MUCH more polished pure-pop direction. Their last two albums, 2012's 'Overexposed' and 2014's 'V' included many of the world's most successful pop songwriters and producers and featured acts ranging from Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean and Gwen Stefani.
     Both albums sold well and had plenty of hit songs, but the music felt formulaic, synthetic and soulless. Even though 'V' was a bit better than 'Overexposed', Maroon 5 has transformed from a solid pop-rock band to almost an Adam Levine solo project. You rarely hear the instruments from the other band members anymore, outside of the occasional guitar lick from guitarist Jesse Valentine. It feels less like them trying to evolve musically and more about staying commercially relevant as their primary purpose of existing.
     That is what we call: 'Selling Out'.

     So with all that said, Maroon 5 released a brand new single Oct.12 called 'Don't Wanna Know' featuring critically acclaimed Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar. Hell, Lamar is an upgrade from Wiz Khalifa and Big Sean, but how is 'Don't Wanna Know' as a song?

Well, it's not good. It's not a good song at all.

     Most of my issues come with the production, which features Maroon 5 continuing to abandon their roots by now adopting a tropical house EDM sound template. It's the sound that originally grew from the underground dance music scene and has conquered the mainstream in the past year by acts like Justin Bieber, Calvin Harris, Drake, Rihanna, and on and on.

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Levine fails to take the song anywhere vocally.
Photo from 'ETOnline'.
     But unlike other pop songs with tropical house flavors attached to them, the production on 'Don't Wanna Know' doesn't take the listener anywhere. It keeps the sounds and volume on just about the same level throughout.
     Levine's vocals do the exact same thing. They sound monotone and layered with so many effects that, again, his vocals don't take the song anywhere. I didn't even hear a guitar until two-thirds into 'Don't Wanna Know' and that is the only natural instrument I hear throughout the song.

     To be fair, there have been some recent Maroon 5 songs that have been decent, with primarily beats and a single, repeated guitar lick making up the music ('Maps', 'Sugar', 'One More Night'). At the very least, these songs have some energy to them and make you want to jam out, or move, or do something. 'Don't Wanna Know' doesn't deliver in the same way.

     Lyrics wise, Levine is singing about not wanting to know what his ex has been up to and wondering if she still thinks of him.

     Honestly, the lyrics aren't that band. But they are pretty bland and forgettable.

     Levine delivers few specifics that should make me care or feel sorry for him. These type of songs absolutely have their place in music, but he sticks to general ideas, like how he can't go out or drink without thinking of his ex. Those ideas are relatable to listeners, including myself, but I wish he could've delivered a reason or two on maybe why he misses the girl, instead of just saying he misses her.

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Like Levine, Lamar's verse is very forgettable.
(Photo from 'HypeTrak'.)
     Although since Levine is married now and is expecting a child, I wonder why he's still writing songs about missing an ex. Just be happy dude, you have a good life!

     As for the Kendrick Lamar verse...well he's barely on for 15 seconds and it's also forgettable. Instead, Lamar is trying to tell his ex what she's missing. But he's engaged in real life, so I can't feel sorry for him either in this song.

RECAP

     All in all, 'Don't Wanna Know' by Maroon 5 isn't the worst song in the world. But it's a bad song, nonetheless that sees the band musically and vocally continuing to chase trends.
   
     Maroon 5 don't sound unique anymore and they sound like everything else you hear on the radio, which is a shame. I thought 'V' was heading very slightly in the right direction to fix this problem. 'Don't Wanna Know' will probably succeed because Maroon 5 will do well on the radio and people will probably buy the song off of iTunes. But knowing what Maroon 5 has done from 2002's 'Songs About Jane' and even in smaller moments on 'V', this song pales in comparison and the band can do better.

Although at this point...I doubt that Levine and company really care on making good music as long as it sells.

RATING: 2 Out of 5 (**)

Tell me what you think of the new Maroon 5 song by leaving a comment below or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

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