Formed in 1994 under the name Kara’s Flowers, pop-rock titans Maroon 5 (much better name!) have proved their talent and staying power by remaining at the forefront of popular music for decades.
Led by enigmatic frontman Adam Levine, they have a knack for creating catchy melodies and irresistible grooves that make their songs bonafide dancefloor fillers. But theirs isn’t bland, bubblegum pop – it’s refreshingly edgy, both musically and lyrically.
Spanning genres like soul, funk, and electronic dance pop, they’ve experimented with different styles and brought in some great collaborators, too (Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Nicks, etc.).
So strap yourself in. Here we delve into our pick of the best Maroon 5 songs.
11. One Light (ft. Bantu)
From Maroon 5’s critically-panned 2021 JORDI album, this little number just bounces energy and good vibes (what do the critics know anyway.) Featuring Zimbabwean singer/producer Bantu who, according to his self-penned Spotify profile, is “obsessed with bread pudding.” If this track is anything to go to, that pudding must be divine! Lyrically, it’s a song about finding one person (or God) that shines the light. “Life was an endless midnight, but now I got one light.”
10. Girls Like You (ft. Cardi B)
With a simple beat and sweet message, this song is unassuming yet immensely catchy. Levine sings about a relationship that took some work, but that is well worth it because the pair just needs each other. With a feature from Cardi B, we get another perspective that tells us the woman is just as committed to the relationship. This song has an even sweeter sentiment when you consider the music video, which features an amalgamation of women (such as Ellen DeGeneres and Tiffany Haddish) to show that any girl could be the “girl like you.”
9. Beautiful Mistakes (ft. Megan Thee Stallion)
Maroon 5 has collaborated a lot with rappers. The band prioritizes versatility, and it pays off, allowing them to bring in musicians like Megan Thee Stallion to add a twist to the sound they are known for. In the song, Levine reminisces on a failed relationship, regretting the way things ended while understanding why they had to. The lyric “you’re like a broken home to me” perfectly sums up the duality of ex-relationships. Megan’s verse lets us know the blame really rests on Levine’s shoulder, culminating in the accusatory statement, “you’re toxic.”
8. This Love
Grooving guitar riffs carry us through this hit as Levine laments the havoc ‘This Love’ has wrecked on his mind and his heart. Levine is not exaggerating when he says, “this love has taken its toll on me.” In an interview in 2002, he confirmed that every single song on their debut album ‘Songs About Jane’ (where this song appears), was about his ex, Jane.
7. She Will Be Loved
This heartfelt soft rock ballad was one of the singles from Maroon 5’s debut album and is still a fan favorite that pulls at the heartstrings even decades later. The lyrics are about loving someone who feels broken. Even though this girl has a “broken smile,” Levine declares she will be loved no matter what. It turns out the song is loved just as much as the woman – the track joined the billions club on Spotify in 2022.
The unrelenting drum hits keep the energy of this song high the whole time as Levine’s engaging falsetto moves us through some incredibly catchy melodies. This song does a great job of building tension and then giving a satisfying resolve that makes you want to jump around – especially in the bridge. Starting stripped back, the bridge has repetition and layers, culminating in a big hit on the gut punch of an opening chorus line, “but I wonder, where were you?” Lyrically, this song is angry about the lack of love from someone Levine loves so much. The somewhat gruesome video about a moment of infidelity that results in tragedy is pretty intense too.
‘Animals’ has an intense and feral central metaphor – Levine is tracking down an ex as if she is prey, because the love (and lust) that still exists between them brings out their animalistic nature. The song’s message is a bit creepy and stalker-ish, but we can excuse it in exchange for those amazingly catchy melodies. The track captures Maroon 5’s affinity for pop music, but the heavy and crashing drums add tension that takes the song’s plot to a new level. Levine lets it loose with a long wolf howl during the bridge, driving home the animal metaphor and exploding back into the chorus.
This jamming disco-inspired tune is a hallmark of Maroon 5’s discography, so it’s hard to imagine someone else singing it. Yet, it was originally written by Mike Posner with the intention of using it for his own album. Levine was passionate about having this song, though, so when Posner started working on a new project, he happily passed the track along to the band. With a few edits, Levine’s falsetto, snappy drums, and guitar riffing, this song quickly became the hit we know today.
3. Payphone (ft. Wiz Khalifa)
With yearnful lyrics, rhythmic melodies, and crooning high notes, everything about this song guarantees that you will be singing along. Levine reveals he has wasted many nights and countless hours wanting his ex back, even though he knows it’s not on the cards. In the age of cellphones, the fact that Levine is using a payphone adds a certain level of desperation to the song. This detail, along with blunt lyrics like “all those fairy tales are full of s**t,” make this a cathartic song to sing along to.
Despite Maroon 5’s adrenaline-fuelled pop, they can also turn their hand to hugely emotional songs like ‘Memories.’ In this stripped-back, acoustic track, Levine is remembering someone special in his life, admitting the “drinks bring back all the memories.” He doesn’t specify what this person was to him, but we can all relate to the feeling of missing someone who’s no longer there, whether that’s a deceased friend or relative, or ex-lover. It’s a bittersweet and wistful tune about all the people no longer around, but gratitude for being able to know them, even for a short time. And a nice little reminder to toast the ones still here (“here’s to the ones that we got.”)
1. Moves Like Jagger (ft. Christina Aguilera)
Though we can all argue for our favorite Maroon 5 song, and arguably any of these songs could take the top spot, we opt for ‘Moves Like Jagger.’ Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera were both judges on The Voice (a singing competition reality TV show) at the time of this song’s release in 2011. They teamed up to create this stonker of a tune. Jagger is known for his energetic dancing, and the love between the pair in this song has that same wild energy. Aguilera’s soulful voice comes in at the bridge, upping the energy and leading back into the awesome earworm of a chorus. We reckon a song that celebrates Jagger’s unique (and slightly bizarre) dance style is worthy of the top spot. Who said white men can’t dance?!