Thursday, April 19, 2012
Is New Maroon 5 Single "Payphone" THE SHIT Or Just Shit?
There is something inherently sad about the new Maroon 5 song, "Payphone". The first thing that catches the ear is Adam Levine's cheesily auto-tuned vocals. Levine's voice, even without auto-tune, has a certain "treated" quality to it and he can actually sing, so his reliance upon this studio trickery isn't necessary, buuuut since it is used on all the latest hit tunes, the M5 guys can't help but join in the fun.
Of course, having known the M5 guys since they were Kara's Flowers, a teeny bop L.A. band whose first album came and went with little fanfare, I am continually amazed at Levine's transformation from clean cut poster into a tattooed douchebag. I mean, he can't be both so one of the two is a total pose.
Can you guess which one?
Seeing a guy like him with arms full of tats is a lot like seeing some stupid jock with his ear pierced back in high school. Of course, tats are gross, so the fact that Levine is so desperate to be seen as "cool" that he'll let some freak show with a cock ring draw on him in permanent ink smacks of desperation. Sure, he lives in the mansion where "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air" was filmed (sucker!) and I live in a van down by the river, but that doesn't make me any less right.
What makes me sad when I listen to this song is that there will be people out in the world who come to embrace the song because it speaks to them in some significant way. That, in and of itself, is pretty sad. How shallow must your life be to be moved by a song such as this; one that so obviously panders in hopes of attracting that younger demo that thinks their drama is somehow more sophisticated than the drama they see on Jerry Springer.
Never mind that the first time they heard the song was on the drive up to the local prison. As she talked to her boyfriend - sorry, "fiancé" - the symmetry between song and scene are completely missed.
There's a comfort she feels talking to him about the future while separated by a sheet of bulletproof glass. What they have is about as real as the sentiment expressed in lines like:
"I know it's hard to remember/The people we used to be
It's even harder to picture/That you’re not here with me
You say it's too late to make it/But is it too late to try?
And in the time that you wasted/All of our bridges burned down."
It sounds real, substantive even, but it's a house made of cotton candy. The minute he gets out, she can't romanticize his good nature when the truth is right in front of her complaining about how he can't find a good job, or take care of the baby, or fix the car. As long as he's in " the Big House", what she has is real.
Maroon 5 have tapped into that demographic, of course.
It's the main demo that drives all of pop culture at the moment. After all, this is the demo that made Snooki a millionaire and Khloe Kardashian a household name. If that doesn't make you sad, then, more than likely, you're one of them.