Maroon 5 were stagnating until frontman Adam Levine joined the US version of The Voice, writes Cameron Adams
It’s Levine providence
BEING on the American version of The Voice has been a very wise business decision for Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine.
Before he said yes, Maroon 5 had hit a chart road bump.
After 15 million sales of their first two albums, the third, Hands All Over, was stagnating, it had barely clocked up one million sales.
‘‘ It’s falling short in some ways, but you have to face that,’’ Levine said last year.
‘‘ When you become accustomed to a certain level of success, anything less becomes unsatisfying.’’
But the band had a plan. Around the time Levine signed on to the TV show, they were sent an idea for a song by songwriter Shellback, who’s known for his work with Britney Spears, Pink and Usher.
There was a whistled hook and a blank chorus, except for the words ‘‘ I’ve got the moves like Jagger’’. ‘‘ I knew it was special,’’ Levine says. ‘‘ The minute I heard that main hook I thought: ‘ Oh sh--, if it’s done right, this is an astonishing moment we’re going to capture’.’’
It was the first time the band had worked with external songwriters, with hits like This Love, She Will Be Loved and Makes Me Wonder all written in- house.
But Moves Like Jagger became a global No. 1 hit last year and suddenly critics of Levine doing The Voice were silenced, including Maroon 5’ s guitarist, James Valentine.
‘‘ I didn’t watch the first season at all,’’ Valentine told Rolling Stone this year.
‘‘ I don’t need to turn on the TV to hear Adam’s opinions. That’s not entertainment for me. But, when I finally caught it, I got hooked like everyone else.’’
The platinum- coloured elephant in the room is that The Voice has been amazing for business, for both Levine and also for Maroon 5.
‘‘ It’s pretty damn cool, it’s really kicked everything up another notch,’’ Levine says.
And he’s keen to sign on for a third American series and, at one point, was in the mix to be on the Australian series.
‘‘ Trust me, I would have loved nothing more than going to Australia and doing the show and having fun, but I literally didn’t have the time,’’ he says.
The Voice has had other knock- on effects: He’s filming a role in the US drama American Horror Story and is releasing his own cologne.
But, apart from his extra- curriculas, Levine was eager to get back in the studio.
For the fourth Maroon 5 album, Overexposed, they’ve kept the same routine, working with some of the most successful pop songwriters.
‘‘ Stereo Hearts and Moves Like Jagger were such huge successes, it was hard to argue with that formula,’’ Levine says.
‘‘ We’d had a lot of time and a lot of years doing everything completely in- house, just the band.
‘‘ In order to grow and change and evolve and have more fun, you have to spike some new elements in.’’
Levine admits it wasn’t just the disappointing sales of Hands All Over that saw them reach out for help.
‘‘ Partly that, but there was no one specific reason, but it took a lot of pressure off me, first of all,’’ he says.
‘‘ It was great because the band actually wound up uniting even more as a result of doing this. That’s all you can ever hope for, that you keep loving what you do with the guys you’ve been doing it with for 10, 15, 20- plus years.’’
A- list songwriters flocked to the band, including One Republic’s Ryan Tedder who was in demand after his work on Adele’s 21 and uber hitmaker Max Martin.
‘‘ The songs would take on somewhat of a different life, because you’ve got writers working in a band not just people to hand the song over to,’’ Levine says.
‘‘ And ourselves, as well, were usually being in the position where we don’t listen to anybody, but we were listening to them, taking their counsel and amazing advice.’’
Levine said the new direction rejuvenated the band.
‘‘ I feel like we’re finally in the place we were meant to be,’’ he says.
‘‘ There was always this push and pull, ‘ Who are we? What are we doing?’.
‘‘ This time we went f--- it, we’re going to go in there and be this band we kinda already are and see it through.’’
Levine took particular interest in the lyrics and says the sound is still very Maroon 5. ‘‘ We’re still playing on it, it’s still us, we’re contributing to the writing quite a bit and I’m singing. So it’s Maroon 5.’’ OVEREXPOSED ( Universal) out now MAROON 5: Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, October 12; Sydney Entertainment Centre, October 13. On sale July 3, Ticketek.