Maroon 5 @ Oracle Arena

(Creative Commons/Wiki)

Back in 2003, Maroon 5 was just a little-known sextet in Los Angeles that made delicate and sentimental relationship-themed pop-rock songs. Even then they were headlining nights at well-known locations like the House of Blues in Hollywood, but their shows were still cheap enough that high school freshmen (such as myself) could afford to buy tickets and even a CD copy of their debut album, Songs About Jane, without blowing their entire allowance. Thirteen years later, I can still remember most of the lyrics on the 12-track album, but if you quizzed me about the songs on any of their subsequent four albums, I couldn’t tell you a thing. Why? Because Maroon 5 changed. Once known an insular unit who wrote their own songs — crooning love ballads revolving around simple guitar arrangements — Maroon 5 is now an annoyingly upbeat Top 40 behemoth with a penchant for overcrowding tunes with extraneous instruments, electronic elements, and ’80s flairs. Perhaps their new sound wouldn’t be so distasteful if another key facet of their music — lead singer Adam Levine’s voice — hadn’t changed as well. Once plaintive and emotive, Levine — who has since forayed into acting, appearing in shows like American Horror Story: Asylum and The Voice — has kicked his voice up a notch, opting for a falsetto that is so high-pitched, he sounds like a whining chihuahua. It’s likely other fans feel similarly about the direction the band has gone in since its 2007 sophomore album, but we are clearly few in number. With more than 13 million monthly listeners on Spotify, Maroon 5, which is also the streaming platform’s 50th most-listened-to artist in the world, is officially a force to be reckoned with.

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