Since its 2002 debut, Maroon 5 has walked a meandering line between indie rock and glossy pop. With the success of last year's hit "Moves Like Jagger," however, as well as frontman Adam Levine's high-profile stint as a judge on NBC's The Voice, things seem to be trending in a poppier direction for this L.A.-based band.
Guided by assists from superproducers Max Martin and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (among others), Maroon 5's fourth studio effort is drenched in pop hooks. Stylistically, Overexposed runs the gamut from reggae and disco sounds to contemporary beats that nod at the current electronic dance music craze.
As for these songs' lyrics, the scope of the subject matter is significantly smaller as Levine chronicles the many ways a man can torpedo a romance.
On "Beautiful Goodbye," the singer confesses he's made mistakes as a relationship ends: "I count the ways I let you down/On my fingers and toes, but I'm runnin' out/Clever words can't help me now." Similar sentiments saturate "Sad," on which we hear from someone who fears he'll never find another romance as good as the one he's just destroyed: "I'm scared to death/That there may not be/Another one like this/ … I'm kickin' the curb/'Cause you never heard/The words that you needed so bad." Regret fills "Payphone" as well: "Where have the times gone/Baby, it's all wrong/Where are the plans we made for two?"
Meanwhile, Levine's conscience makes a brief (if profane) appearance on "One More Night," where he admits that he's "guilty as h‑‑‑" for staying in a relationship solely for sex.
Guilt notwithstanding, however, steamy sex keeps him asking for "One More Night": "Try to tell you no, but my body keeps on telling you yes/Try to tell you stop, but your lipstick got me so out of breath." "Tickets" offers another take on that theme as Levine sings about a man who stays with a shallow, narcissistic woman simply because their incendiary intimacy overrides all other considerations: "You're perfect on the outside but nothing at the core/ … You'll never have my heart/But your perfect little body make, make, makes me fall apart."
Sex is the only subject on "Lucky Strike" ("Your body rockin', keep me up all night/One in a million, my lucky strike"). And "Doin' Dirt" covers similarly sensual territory. "Love Somebody" equates love and physical intimacy ("I really wanna love somebody/ … I really wanna touch somebody/ … I'm right in front of you/Asking you to stay, you should stay, stay with me tonight").
Lyrics on "Ladykiller" seem to come from a man lamenting the fact that his lover has left him for another woman: "Baby, it's not alright/The second you turn your back, she'll be out of sight/Baby, she'll break your heart/The second that you spend the night apart/ … Oh how could you walk away from everything we made/ … You better watch yourself/I think that girl's insane/ … She's such a ladykiller."
"Daylight" finds a man longing for one last night with his lover to last forever because he knows they'll part ways come morning ("In the daylight, we'll be on our own/But tonight I need to hold you so close"). "Fortune Teller" involves a man trying to convince his insecure girlfriend not to worry about the future, even though he hints he's likely to leave her somewhere down the road.
The explicit version of "Payphone" includes four f-words and five s-words, several of which are included in repetitions of these cynical lines: "All those fairy tales are full of s‑‑‑/One more f‑‑‑in' love song, I'll be sick." Another f-word turns up on "Tickets," and elsewhere we hear one use each of "d‑‑n" and "h‑‑‑."
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine has often been labeled a playboy. And his penchant for dating beautiful Russian women (tennis star Maria Sharapova; Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated swimsuit supermodel Anne Vyalitsyna) has done little to dispel that image.
This album likely won't do much to dispel it either. While we don't know for sure that all the bad relationships Levine sings about are autobiographical, we can nonetheless classify the intimate connections he relates into three broad categories—none of them good:
1. Relationships with women he knows he shouldn't be sleeping with but just can't quite bring himself to end.
2. Relationships with women who've left him because of the mistakes he's made—mistakes he knows he keeps making but can't seem to avoid.
3. Relationships with women he's left, even though looking back he's pretty sure those choices were mistakes too.
No matter which category we're talking about, two constants are evident: Lots of sex and lots of regret. The lyrics on this album, to the extent that they reflect Levine's romantic reality, try to position him as someone who deserves our pity for his inability to maintain a meaningful relationship.
You'll forgive me if I have a hard time mustering much empathy.