Maroon 5 like a change of scene, don’t they? Since their first hit back in 2002, they’ve traversed through rock, pop and dance before ending up here – a summery bit of tropical house. Because tropical house is still going. Because tropical house will never die. Because when the apocalypse comes, all that will be left is cockroaches and tropical house. And maybe Maroon 5 too.
For their latest single, Maroon 5 have teamed up with acclaimed RnB singer SZA in a calculated, mutually-beneficial transaction. While Maroon 5 stand to gain from SZA’s considerable cred (as well as that amazing voice), SZA will get her name stamped on a mainstream hit. It’s more a business deal than a collaboration, the two acts on opposite ends of the musical spectrum, but the result is surprisingly coherent.
‘What Lovers Do’ is very much on brand for Maroon 5. It’s a fairly grating bit of up-tempo pop, lead singer Adam Levine ooh-ing his way through a breezy chorus that relies heavily on old trends. There’s the aforementioned tropical house vibe that already feels kind of outdated, and then there are obligatory hand claps and, of course, a funky bit of bass guitar because we’re still in 2013’s ‘Get Lucky’ hangover. It makes for a bland and formulaic listen, more a tick-box exercise than a pop song.
SZA makes the best of some lazy and meaningless lyrics, her lush vocals somehow managing to imbue lines like “You gon’ make me hit you with that lay down, baby” with some sort of meaning. She sounds surprisingly comfortable , her voice at home amidst the upbeat arrangement while Levine is reedy and shrill. And SZA is the only thing remotely interesting to be found here. Everything else sounds like it was spat out of some Maroon 5 algorithm that boiled all of their annoying, chart-pleasing, innocuous habits into three minutes of jarring beige-pop. It’s abrasive and cocksure, arrogant but harmless, pushy and attention-hungry – essentially, it’s the most Maroon 5 thing Maroon 5 have ever done.
With ‘What Lovers Do’, we may have reached peak Maroon 5. We can only hope it’s all downhill from here.