How We Got to a Place Where SZA Is on a Maroon 5 Song

"What Lovers Do" is one song in a long line of confusing but actually really savvy decisions.

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Aug 30 2017, 2:06pm

Okay enough is enough. We really just need to ask the question. Who are Maroon 5 and what is their purpose? I mean, I know who Maroon 5 are—they are an American band who started off as a soft rock band but whose current incarnation is featured on tracks alongside everyone from Christina Aguilera to Kendrick Lamar (and now, today, SZA. Hear their collab "What Lovers Do" above). But how did they get this way, in the year of our lord 2017? They certainly have not always been this way. What I want to draw attention to specifically, is that over the years, they've kind of morphed into this shapeless, genre-less band-for-hire who are just kind of there to do whatever kind of song is en vogue, and, every now and then, work with people like SZA who, honestly, you wouldn't necessarily pair their mum-beloved vibe with.

Thus, I am doing what nobody else will do. I am asking: what happened to Maroon 5?

Early Maroon 5: "Songs About Jane"

This is the Maroon 5 I am most familiar with. This is what Maroon 5 should always have been—a pretty good soft rock band that people's parents and aunts play in their cars. But even here, in this music video, we get a glimpse into the band, and specifically Adam Levine's future. This clip is exceptionally porny. Adam "Moves Like Jagger" Levine has seemingly always had designs on mainstream sex god status, and if he has to abandon soft rock, and literally the entire concept of genre, by the wayside my god he will do it.

Mid-Career, Baby! ...And This time, He's Wearing a Tux!

When they came back with their second album, the band's sound was still characterised by strong rhythms but erred towards something poppier, though the guitars had not been done away with just yet. The real change is happening, however, with the boy Levine. He's wearing a tux (as opposed to cargo pants) and he's making love to the camera baby. Something's coming over him, and it speaks the language of unclassifiable-but-catchy chart domination.

2010: Full "Moves Like Jagger"

Shirtlessness was an inevitability. By 2010 they'd shifted into full radio pop (*extremely Seinfeld voice* not that there's anything wrong with that), and marked their ascent to weird musical non-entity and enormous commercial success. Levine bloody loves it.

Basically Just Out Here Only Releasing Collabs with People Like Wiz Khalifa

And now we're kind of... here? It kind of feels like Maroon 5, with Levine in full Sexy Mode, are the go-to guys if you want a radio hit. Their music since about 2012 has spanned everything from almost-EDM (remember that?) to guitars smashed together with synthpop to tropical pop that sounds like it was produced by a Brit prodigy from the Midlands who's in his late teens. Most of the songs they release these days are collaborations, and it makes sense for artists like SZA who've more recently reached broader audiences to hop on a track with Levine and the lads, because it guarantees exposure. And though that's cynical—maybe SZA loves the song and has wanted to collab with Maroon 5 for a very long time—it seems like cynicism has kind of ruled the day where Maroon 5 are concerned. Give me that Songs About Jane 15-year anniversary tour any day, though.

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