Pop superstar band “hops out of their comfort zone”
After four years since their last release, Maroon 5’s newest album, Jordi, may seem like a necessary dive into experimenting, but instead, it sounds like an album that is desperately trying to appeal to as many demographics as possible.
Throughout their career, Maroon 5 has grooved their way into background music, as their pop songs play in local Starbucks shops. The band reaches for every new trend that emerges to maintain relevance by strategically collaborating with the hottest rappers and R&B singers and meshing it with an EDM-inspired sound. Jordi doesn’t fall short of this pattern. However, this album is more scattered than their previous albums with its inharmonious features.
Kicking off with the rising rapper Megan Thee Stallion, the single “Beautiful Mistakes” accentuates the warm guitar strums that dominated the airwaves in 2017 and the typical “nah nah nah” soft-pop vocal melody. It starts the project off strong, especially with the choice of featuring such a dominant artist of the current times. However, Megan’s flow and lyricism are somewhat drowned out due to the chords and the melody. This song is proof of the strategic placement of tracks and features Maroon 5 utilizes to create higher streaming revenue.
As one of the more heartfelt singles off the album, “Nobody’s Love” was written during the dividing times of summer 2020 to remind the world about “the potent power of love,” according to Adam Levine’s Instagram post. “I’m hoping that ‘Nobody’s Love’ is a song that can give everyone a moment of peace and reflection during this unprecedented moment in our world’s story,” Levine wrote.
The track “One Light” attempts to create an Afrobeat sound with Caribbean-like production and melodies. Featuring Bantu, the 13-piece band that specializes in Afrofunk, Afrobeat, Highlife and Yoruba music, “One Light” is an extreme contrast to the rest of the album. While it does blend certain elements of pop music, it sounds very different from what one would expect in a Maroon 5 project.
Deeper into the album, Jordi shockingly features posthumous verses from two late rappers in “Can’t Leave You Alone” and “Memories Remix.” Both being heartfelt songs, one speaks about a love interest, and the other speaks about loss. Featuring deceased rapper/pop artist Juice WRLD, “Can’t Leave You Alone” has a very trendy feel to it. “Memories Remix,” which is dedicated to Maroon 5’s manager who suddenly passed away in 2017, features the late rapper Nipsey Hussle and YG. As Levine projects “The memories bring back you,” a soft-pop background flows through to create a more upbeat pace rather than a morbid sound.
Elsewhere, “Convince Me Otherwise” features contemporary R&B singer H.E.R., creating a completely unexpected tone in the middle of the album. It sounds like a coming-of-age movie where the main character and love interest slow dance in the park under the rain. Although the lyrics are intended to be a back-and-forth argument between a couple, H.E.R.’s melodic voice meshing with the rising beat gives a fun, romantic feel to it.
Revisiting their grief for their lost loved one, “Remedy” emphasizes depressing emotions through its lyrics but in a pop music way. It’s difficult to tell how morbid the lyrics actually are because it sounds like a song to dance to. Not only that, but it features the iconic Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, making the lyricism even more distracting. The guitar strums throughout the song are quite reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s overall sound, which would heavily appeal to the old-school fans of Nicks.
Jordi is full of dominating features and is true to the synthesized sounds of trendy pop. Evidently Maroon 5 is clawing towards all the most popular sounds to intrigue as many markets as one band can. The tone of each song jumps from one to another, making it almost unpredictable as an album overall. However, at the same time, the pop feel and grab for trendy, relatable lyrics sounds quite formulated and predictable. The one common theme to take away from Jordi is the respectable intention of acknowledging the darker sides of life.