Maroon 5 have always struck me more as businessmen than musicians. There is something so calculated about everything they create, as though every song has been pored over by a team of accountants, designers and yes-men before it ever sees the light of day. Their music is charmlessly anodyne, though it inspires a rabid devotion among the group’s fans and racks up impressive chart positions time and time again. Whatever their formula is, it’s clearly one that works.
Maroon 5’s last offering was a duet with ultra-cool woman-of-the-moment SZA, a savvy choice surely made to boost the group’s extremely limited street cred. On their newest track, the lilting ‘Help Me Out’, Maroon 5 have enlisted another en vogue name in the shape of Julia Michaels.
Now, let’s clear something up. Is this a song about handjobs? I’m pretty sure that ‘Help Me Out’ is about giving, and receiving, handjobs. Despite its childlike jack-in-the-box melody, this is almost definitely a track about giving your pal a ‘helping hand’.
Is it a bit weird hearing douchebag-in-chief Adam Levine croon about wanting a hand shandy from the lovely, unassuming Julia Michaels? Sure it is. It’s weird and it’s kind of creepy. But Michaels isn’t just here to be Levine’s cum rag – she wants some hand relief too. “Help me out, cus I don’t want to do this on my own,” Levine pleads, followed by Michaels request to “Distract me from thinking too much, loose ends tied up with your touch.” I mean, Jesus.
But despite the track’s subject matter, ‘Help Me Out’ is not a sexy track. Its clunky merry-go-round rhythm nips any potential horniness in the bud and, as usual, Levine’s vocals are largely featureless, his high-pitched, asexual trilling not enough to inspire even the limpest of semis. That said, ‘Help Me Out’ is a fairly enjoyable – if insipid – listen. Though there isn’t much to sink your teeth into, the refrain is catchy and fun and it’s nice to hear a Maroon 5 track that isn’t buried beneath heaps of glossy, anonymous production. This is actually quite a low-key affair for Maroon 5, and it’s a welcome change from the blaring warble they’re famous for.
‘Help Me Out’ is nothing special, but it makes for a lighthearted listen that’s at least momentarily entertaining.