As often happens, the end of one thing leads to the beginning of another. The SoCal based Kara's Flowers released their debut "The Fourth World" in '97. The group got good reviews but little notice. Touring extensively with third tier acts failed to change their fortunes. Less than two years after their debut, Kara's Flowers was off Reprise. In the down time, singer/guitarist Adam Levine fled to New York to attempt to re-focus.
Sometimes you can hear a song or a musical style over and over without it resonating. Then suddenly, it all connects, like it's hitting your ears fresh and you wonder how you missed it for so long. Levine had much the same experience. In L.A., Hip-Hop and the whole urban culture, skated by him with scant notice. But in NY it all came together. Levine took those elements and incorporated them into Maroon 5.
Schoolmates since junior high, the previous Kara's Flowers line-up of Levine, Jesse Carmichael (guitar), Mickey Madden (bass) and Ryan Dusick (drums) was augmented by guitarist James Valentine. With Octone Records, Maroon 5 recorded "Songs About Jane" in L.A. with lead-off single "This Love." But it was follow-up "Harder To Breathe" that had the greatest impact.
Certainly one of the high points on the '07 edition of American Idol was an appearance by Maroon 5. "Makes Me Wonder" showed what a great pop-Rock song should sound like. The track also earned an '08 Grammy Award for Pop Performance By A Duo Or group With Vocals.
Coincidentally, runner-up Blake Lewis gave one of his best performances covering Maroon 5 a week earlier.
They released their sophomore studio album, "It Won't Be Soon Before Long," in '07. The title came from a phrase Maroon 5 adopted to keep themselves motivated while on tour.
A few months later "It Won't Be Soon Before Long" was reissued as a CD/DVD containing a duet version of "If I Never See Your Face Again" featuring pop/R&B singer Rihanna. The song also appeared on Rihana's album "Good Girl Gone Bad."
The following year "Call And Response: The Remix Album," a reworking of Maroon 5's catalog, came out.
"Hands All Over" was a collaboration with Mutt Lange. The album, Maroon 5's third studio effort, was recorded in Switzerland, where Lange lives. "The coolest thing about him is that not only has he been a huge, legendry producer, but he also is a legit, serious writer," said Levine who presented what he thought were finished songs to Lange. "He'd say, 'That's a good start. Now strip it down to the drums and start over'."
According to Levine the title track was "about that desperation of wanting everything to work somehow, but being frustrated by the fact that it just won't." The lead single, "Misery" was performed on NBC's Today Show in July, well in advance of its release.
In a Rolling Stone interview, Levine neatly summed up the band's first three albums. "Our first record was a reflection of my love for Stevie Wonder," he offered. "With the second I kept going back and forth between Prince and the Police. But there was no one on my mind for this album ("Hands All Over"). It's just great pop."
Maroon 5 raised its profile when Levine appeared as a coach, rather successfully, on the TV singing competition, The Voice. Then the group, with Christina Aguilera, released the video clip for "Moves Like Jagger." Levine and Aguilera performed a duet for the Jonas Akerlund-directed clip that had classic footage of the Rolling Stones' frontman plus a slew of dancing Jagger impersonators. To top it off, the band was featured in a JBL (audio speakers) commercial. Does anyone listen to music out loud anymore - don't we all have earbuds?
Aside from The Voice, Maroon 5 recorded "Come Away To The Water" (featuring Rozzi Crane) for the soundtrack album, "The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond." A Grammy Awards appearance preceded the announcement that Carmichael would be taking a sabbatical to focus on music studies and "spiritual healing." Tour member P.J. Morton played on the group's fourth album, "Overexposed."
Levine said the set was their "most diverse and poppiest album yet." Proving the point, lead single "Payphone," featuring Rapper Wiz Khalifa, made its debut at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was no doubt helped by a premiere on The Voice.
The album did even better. "Overexposed," with first week sales of 210,000 units, landed at #2 on the Billboard 200 (just behind Linkin Park's "Living Things").
Having 'conquered' TV, the next logical step for Levine was film. In "Begin Again," Levine earned positive reviews playing Dave, a bearded singer with a major label deal, who cheats on his longtime girlfriend and songwriting partner.
Starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, the plot revolved around a down and out record exec (Ruffalo) and an up and coming singer (Knightley), the ex of Levine's character.
In '14, Maroon 5 performed "All My Loving" and "Ticket To Ride" on The Night That Changed America, which celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles' arrival in the U.S.
A couple months later, Carmichael confirmed that his hiatus from the band was over. He returned in time for the recording of the group's fifth album "V," containing the single "Maps." The set went straight to #1 on the Billboard 200.
Maroon 5 Albums:
2002 Songs About Jane
2007 It Won't Be Soon Before Long
2010 Hands All Over
A line from the song "Shiver" is very revealing. "I won't be satisfied 'til I'm under your skin." That's basically where Maroon 5 is coming from. Some love the band; some don't. Levine is okay with that.
Levine has expressive vocals and a surprising falsetto. He is far less self-actualized than Chris Martin (Coldplay) and he has more of an edge.
The group provides a textured Alt. Rock/guitar-oriented underpinning that incorporates R&B influenced rhythms which allows them to stride the line between Dance and Rock.