iTunes Diaries, entry #8: “Moves Like Jagger”/”Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5

Hey, a two-for-one special! Must be the approaching holiday that’s making me feel so generous.

Since writing my last post, Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” has been popping in and out of my consciousness. It’s a song that I shouldn’t enjoy because it’s puerile, money-grubbing, radio fodder.  But it’s also a catchy, slick, and fluffy earworm that’s a little bit fun to groove to. I mean, take away Levine’s shitty lyrics, and what’s left is a fine and funky piece of music. (But then again, I’m very partial to disco, which hint throughout the instrumentals, so maybe that’s just me.)

From YouTube user ChristinaAguileraAud

But I recently downloaded “Moves Like Jagger” for a very specific reason – to me it represents Maroon 5’s musical low. You see, a few years ago, I bought what I think is Maroon 5’s best song: “Sunday Morning.” It’s a beautifully sculptured tune complete with heartfelt lyrics and a quiet ecstasy. The album that it’s on, Songs About Jane, made powerful waves in the brackish musical sea of the new millennium. Maroon 5’s subdued approach to soul-driven pop was refreshing and relaxing. Songs About Jane was full of hits, but “Sunday Morning” made me a fan. And I looked forward to what the band had to offer after its popularity quelled.

I was mildly interested in their next album It Won’t Be Soon Before Too Long, which departed with a fuzzy, bass-heavy, 80s-amplified sound. It wasn’t a terrible album, but I missed the band’s soulfulness, and I like my Hall and Oates and Prince in separate doses.  Plus the band was taking a, um, sexier(?) turn as Levine’s chiseled visage seemed to take center stage at all times. Needless to say, I was even less excited by the time Hands All Over was released. It’s first single “Misery” hearkened back to Songs About Jane in snippets, but it wasn’t very memorable.

I missed the premier of “Moves Like Jagger” on The Voice (darn), but news of the song was nearly inescapable afterwards, and it spread quicker than [insert somewhat politically incorrect/insensitive phrase here]. On a bright summer morning while perusing VEVO, I decided I should check out the video to see what all the fuss what about. And…man oh man…

Video courtesy of Maroon5VEVO

While the haughty premise of this video might be interpreted as exploring the transient nature of the “rock star,” all we get is a bunch of Jagger impersonations (that are fun watch, I’ll admit) while Levine shows off a whole lotta nothing except for his skinny, tattoed torso. In a song where he valiantly proclaims the extreme seductiveness of his moves (cause they’re like Jagger’s, duh), he does very little moving. What the fuck?! What a half-assed cop-out of a video! Every time I hear this song, it makes me really angry – I see the arrogance in Levine’s face as he moves the damn microphone back and forth, that risible, mocking “you know you want it” look. Ugh! Makes we want to slap something.

And there’s where music succeeds for me – when it makes me feel something, even if that something is utter disgust. Problem is that there’s something attractive in that arrogance – not the douchiness itself, but the confidence that stands behind it. A little bad now and then can be good, and Levine plays that out in droves in “Moves Like Jagger.”

“Moves Like Jagger” is the over-the-shoulder devil to the “Sunday Morning” over-the-shoulder angel. They can and need to exist in the same space. You’ll find this dynamic frequently in my music choices, because my musical world needs balance.  If I only ever listened to all the “best” songs in the world, they’d quickly stop being the best. I’d prefer to keep the bad songs in rotation because the remind me of just how great the good songs really are.

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