Maroon 5 is an American pop rock band that originated in Los Angeles, California. Before the group was formed Adam Levine and the original four members of then 1994 band were known as Kara’s Flowers while its members were still in high school and originally consisted of Adam Levine (lead vocals, guitar), Jesse Carmichael (guitar, backing vocals) Mickey Madden (bass guitar) and Ryan Dusick (drums). The band, which self-released an album called We Like Digging?, was named after a girl the group had a crush on. They signed to Reprise Records and released an album, The Fourth World, in 1997. After a tepid response to the album, the band parted ways with the record label and the members attended college.
In 2001, the band changed their image by adding guitarist James Valentine and pursuing a new direction under the name Maroon 5. At this point, Carmichael switched to playing keyboards, which has since become his main instrument in the band. After these changes, Maroon 5 signed with Octone Records and released their debut album, Songs About Jane, in June 2002. The album’s lead single, “Harder to Breathe”, received heavy airplay, which helped the album to debut at number six on the Billboard 200 chart. The band won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2005. For the next few years, they toured extensively worldwide in support of Songs About Jane and produced two live recordings: 2004’s 1.22.03.Acoustic and 2005’s Live – Friday the 13th. In 2006, Dusick officially left Maroon 5 after suffering from serious wrist and shoulder injuries and was replaced by Matt Flynn. The band then recorded their second album, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long and released it in May 2007. The album reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart and the lead single, “Makes Me Wonder”, became the band’s first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100.
In September 2010, Maroon 5 released their third studio album Hands All Over, which was re-released in 2011 to include the single “Moves like Jagger”. While the original version of the album received mixed reviews, “Moves like Jagger” reached the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100. The band released their fourth album, Overexposed, on June 26, 2012. All four singles of the album were highly successful on the Billboard Hot 100, including second single “One More Night”, which reached number one. In 2014, the band signed with Interscope Records and released their fifth studio album, V, with the very-first line-up of six official band members, as keyboardist and backing vocalist PJ Morton became an official member in 2012. The same year, a longtime friend of the band and bass player of Phantom Planet, Sam Farrar, became an official touring member, performing the keyboards with Carmichael and Morton. The album debuted atop the Billboard 200. Maroon 5 has sold more than 27 million albums and 48 million singles worldwide.
Adam Levine was introduced to Ryan Dusick by a mutual friend and aspiring guitar player, Adam Salzman. Levine was 15 years old and Dusick was 16. The four original members of the band met while attending Brentwood School in Los Angeles. While attending Brentwood School, Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael joined up with Mickey Madden and Ryan Dusick to form Kara’s Flowers, a pop band. The name was taken from a groupie that the band had a “collective crush” on. In 1997 when they were playing a beach party in Malibu, indie producer Tommy Allen heard them play and offered to manage them and record a complete record with his partner, songwriter John DeNicola, who is known for his work on Dirty Dancing – including “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”. Producer Rob Cavallo’s management team heard the record Allen and DeNicola produced, which eventually led Cavallo to offer them a deal with Reprise Records. However, after the release of The Fourth World in 1997, they had morphed into band with a style reminiscent of 1960s Britpop. Despite high expectations from the band and record company, the album failed to catch on and their lead single, “Soap Disco”, was a failure. According to Levine, the failure of the album was “a huge disappointment” that nearly led them to break up in 1998. The album sold around 5,000 copies and they were dropped after only one month.
Dusick and Madden attended college locally at UCLA, while Levine and Carmichael relocated to the East coast to attend Five Towns College, in Dix Hills, Long Island, New York. While Levine and Carmichael were in New York, they began to take notice of the urban music surrounding them and later let the style influence the songs they wrote.
The band returned to the music industry again in 2000. Sam Farrar says the Aaliyah song “Are You That Somebody?” affected the band and influenced the song “Not Coming Home.”Producer Tim Sommer signed them to a demo deal with MCA Records and produced three tracks with them in Los Angeles in the middle of 2000 with Mark Dearnley engineering. Against Sommer’s advice, MCA declined to pick up the band, and these tracks were never released. The band put together a demo that was rejected by several labels, before falling into the hands of Octone Records executives James Diener, Ben Berkman and David Boxenbaum. While looking for talent for the new Octone label, Berkman was given a bunch of demos by the brother of a former colleague at Columbia Records and the song that caught his attention was “‘Sunday Morning'” which he referred it as a “genius song”. Berkman was surprised the song was credited to Kara’s Flowers because they sounded completely different from the band he had heard while at Warner Brothers.
Berkman encouraged Diener and Boxenbaum to fly out to Los Angeles to watch a showcase gig at The Viper Room for the four-piece Kara’s Flowers. After watching Levine onstage, they were convinced. Berkman told HitQuarters he believed what the band needed was a “fifth member to play the guitar and free up the singer, so he could be the star I perceived him to be.”Octone immediately insisted that the band change its name to break with its pop past. Also, the label began looking for a full-time guitarist to enable Levine to focus on performing as the frontman. James Valentine (from the L.A. band Square) was recruited for the job. On his joining the band, Valentine commented: “I became friends with them and we sort of started jamming together, it was very much like I was cheating on my band, we were having sort of an affair and I eventually quit my other band to join up with them.”
Adam Levine has stated: “[E]verything that’s written and performed and put together pretty much comes from us. I just think people would be surprised to know that we’re a self-contained unit. We’re a band that does their own thing. There’s no puppet master.” However, in an article about the songwriter and producer Benny Blanco, it is revealed that at least some of the band’s songs, such as “Moves Like Jagger,” are the product of efforts by, or collaborations with, professional songwriters and producers. In the same article, Adam Levine is quoted as saying: “It’s almost as if [Benny Blanco] has the Midas touch in putting the right people together at the right time to create a musical moment. He’s about the collaboration. And he’s so good at nailing down who does everything best.”
The band has cited Michael Jackson, the Police, Bee Gees, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Tonic and Prince as influences. Adam Levine has also cited Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel as influences. Furthermore, guitarist James Valentine said he was influenced by guitarists like Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and John Scofield, as well as the rock band Queens of the Stone Age. The band’s songs tend to be very guitar-heavy, often accompanied by piano or synthesizer. The theme in most of their songs is love, frequently lost love; songs like “This Love”, “Makes Me Wonder” and “Misery” have a very cynical tone, often expressing dissatisfaction with a relationship, while their more heartfelt and emotional songs such as “She Will Be Loved” and “Never Gonna Leave This Bed” express a longing for a romantic relationship. “Makes Me Wonder” has a secondary theme, in which Levine expresses his disillusionment and frustration with the state of American politics and the Iraq War.
The band’s style changes from album to album. Songs About Jane consists of songs about Levine’s ex-girlfriend Jane. On It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, however, the songs are less personal and are more electric with more use of synthesizers, creating a retro feel. Hands All Over continues the band’s lost love theme, along with songs about infatuation and was re-released in 2011, with the hit single “Moves like Jagger”, an electropop song which represents a drastic change in the band’s sound, with more of a dance feel to it. “It was one of those songs that was definitely a risk,” Levine said. “It’s a bold statement. We’ve never really released a song like that. But it’s exciting to do something different, do something new. I’m just glad that everyone likes it.” James Valentine called Overexposed “our most ‘pop’ record ever and we weren’t shy about really going for it.”