A mix of polished pop/rock and neo-soul made Maroon 5 one of the most popular bands of the new millennium, with songs like “This Love,” “She Will Be Loved,” and “Makes Me Wonder” all topping the charts worldwide. Previously, bandmates Adam Levine (vocals/guitar), Jesse Carmichael (keyboards), Mickey Madden (bass), and Ryan Dusick (drums) had spent the latter half of the ’90s playing in Kara’s Flowers, even releasing a debut album for Reprise Records while still attending high school. The record tanked, however, and Kara’s Flowers found themselves dropped from Reprise’s roster. After briefly attending college, the bandmates regrouped as Maroon 5, adding former Square guitarist James Valentine to the lineup and embracing a more R&B-influenced sound. Several years later, the quintet had officially risen to the forefront of pop music with Songs About Jane and It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, both of which went multi-platinum.
Songs About Jane propelled the band into the mainstream, but the album was not an immediate hit. Octone Records had signed the newly christened Maroon 5 in 2001, and the debut album Jane received a lukewarm response upon its release in June 2002. “Harder to Breathe” became a radio staple 17 months later and was soon followed by the omnipresent “This Love,” whose steamy video (featuring frontman Levine and a barely clothed girlfriend) wooed the TV-watching crowds at MTV. Songs About Jane finally entered the Billboard Top Ten in August 2004, more than two years after the album’s release, and follow-up singles like “She Will Be Loved” and “Sunday Morning” helped the album move over 2.7 million copies by year’s end.
Maroon 5 toured exhaustively in support of Jane’s slow-burning success, issuing two stopgap recordings — 2004’s 1.22.03.Acoustic and 2005’s Live Friday the 13th — while traveling the world alongside the likes of the Rolling Stones and John Mayer. Their schedule was especially trying on percussionist Dusick, who sustained wrist and shoulder injuries and was often unable to play. By fall 2006, Dusick had been officially replaced by Matt Flynn (the former drummer for Gavin DeGraw), and the revised band released its sophomore effort in May 2007. It Won’t Be Soon Before Long proved to be less popular than its predecessor (which had sold more than four million copies in the U.S. alone), but it still enjoyed double-platinum certification while spinning off the chart-topping single “Makes Me Wonder.” Maroon 5 had cemented their status as pop/rock heavyweights, and they now had the connections to prove it. Released in late 2008, Call and Response: The Remix Album reinterpreted the band’s catalog with remixes by influential producers like Mary J. Blige, Mark Ronson, and Pharrell Williams.
Between 2008 and 2010, the band worked with a different producer — veteran rock/country architect Robert John “Mutt” Lange — on a third studio album, Hands All Over, which was released in September 2010. Although it was kept from the top of the album charts, it went platinum. Also, the following year, it received a big boost when Levine began appearing as a judge on the NBC reality television talent competition The Voice. That same year, Hands All Over was re-released with the single “Moves Like Jagger,” featuring Levine’s The Voice co-judge Christina Aguilera; the single promptly hit the top of the charts. In 2012, Carmichael revealed that he was taking time off from performing with Maroon 5 and would be replaced by touring keyboardist PJ Morton.
In April of 2012, the band teased the release of its fourth studio album with “Payphone,” a single featuring Wiz Khalifa that hit number two. The resulting album, Overexposed, also reached number two, featuring production from a bevy of name producers including Ryan Tedder, Max Martin, Benny Blanco, and more. A second single from the album, the reggae-tinged “One More Night,” topped the charts not long after its release in June, and stayed at the top long enough to become the band’s most successful showing to date. Two further singles also reached the Top Ten, “Daylight” and “Love Somebody.”
During 2013, Levine continued to appear on The Voice, and also made appearances in the television drama American Horror Story, as well as the music-based dramatic film Begin Again. The band also hit the studio to record songs for a fifth studio album, aptly titled V, which saw keyboardist Jesse Carmichael return to the fold after a brief hiatus. Released in September 2014, V debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and produced several Top Ten singles including “Maps,” “Animals,” and “Sugar.” Two more singles followed in 2015 with “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a Motherf*****” and “Feelings.” Also in 2015, Maroon 5 released their first hits collection, The Singles. The single “Don’t Wanna Know,” featuring rapper Kendrick Lamar, appeared in 2016 and peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was later revealed to be the first single from their forthcoming sixth LP. A second collaborative single, “Cold,” featuring Future, was released in early 2017, with “What Lovers Do” appearing before the November release of Red Pill Blues. ~ Andrew Leahey