Jun 26, 2005

Does Maroon 5 Have Anything Original to Offer?

As a music lover, with a pretty diverse range of interests, I find myself often listening intently to a song, trying to pick out references and parallels to other songs that I've heard. In hip-hop and other genres that utilize digital sampling, it's more overt, as you try to place the beat, the melodic snippet, catch phrases, or even full lines (Mos Def singing Rakim's line "I start to think, and then I sink into the paper, like I was ink..." from Follow the Leader, which had in turn been remixed using Billie Jean from Michael Jackson). Hip-hop is outstanding at paying homage to predecessors and influences (what compares to shout-outs!), but even rock and other genres have their ways. I remember hearing Down with the Ship (Slight Return), by Scatterbrain, which is a tribute that uses riffs and snips of songs by other iconic artists in the midst of their original song. It's taken me 10 years to figure out most of the references (which I'll post as well, when I get a chance).

But there's also the situation in which the resonance you hear is not homage. It's just plain biting. And that sucks. So let's call some of these folks out, shall we? Oasis is just too obvious. I really liked What's The Story, Morning Glory until I realized that I liked the originals better: namely, the Beatles. Lenny Kravitz is rightly much maligned as purely derivative. And there are more Joni Mitchell retreads than I care to exhume in this post.

But I wanted to pay specific attention to Maroon 5. The group made it big with their first single, This Love, and I swear, the first time that I heard it, I was immediately reminded of Jamiroquai, who hit it big with Virtual Insanity and subsequent soulful dance/funk releases. I may have been the only one, but I definitely didn't think that the sound was original.

Then comes the second hit single, She Will Be Loved. The minute that I heard it, I thought immediately of Cheap Trick's The Flame. This one was too close to be coincidence, though once again, I've heard nothing about it anywhere. Please - if you're going to rip off a melody that directly, try to use something that wasn't a single.

I've not heard the third single, but did hear that it's frighteningly close to a bad Stevie Wonder outtake. Three strikes and you're out. Come on guys - come up with something original!


burnedouteyes said...


ha, I have that tape somewhere. kinda silly now.... but there were some shredding parts...

Rage said...

I knew you'd back me up on this one, but the real question is: have you heard the band's first incarnation: Ludichrist?

burnedouteyes said...

never heard ..... didja like 'em?

Rage said...

liked scatterbrain - thought ludichrist was better. harder, crazier, more punk/metal.

i have one tape, which I'll try to dig up. wow. Tapes.

Anonymous said...

You're so right about Kravitz. A friend of mine likes him for some reason. Several times he's played a song by him, and asked me who I thought it was. Every time I immediately came up with an incorrect answer. One of his songs is a Hendrix ripoff, one a Portishead ripoff. I'd rather listen to the originals.

And yes, Maroon 5 suck. They remind me of Dave Matthews Band sans the horns and talent.

I'm looking forward to your dissection of "Down With the Ship".

Rage said...

Thanks for tuning in - and I'll definitely write more when I get a chance about some of these folks that are getting off as if they are original, but aren't. Do you know Scatterbrain's stuff? I just threw it in there because it was such a great "name that tune" song.