The band returned musically in April with “Payphone”, their Shellback/Benny Blanco-co-produced first official follow-up to “Jagger”. And since then, the soaring pop track has been lodged nicely in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. This week it moved up to #2, just behind the juggernaut that is Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” — a smash that, along with Katy Perry‘s “Wide Awake” and Justin Bieber‘s “All Around The World”, we also highlighted as possible 2012 Song Of The Summer contenders. Can “Payphone” dial its way to being the ultimate earworm of our sunny day soundtrack this year? Let’s discuss below.
Maroon 5 have paired up with other artists prior to “Jagger” — most notably on their 2007 cut “If I Never See Your Face Again”, which features Rihanna. But “Jagger” struck a chord, and clearly Levine and his pals have taken a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality in order to keep their hit streak on fire.
For “Payphone”, their first Overexposed single, the California band wrangled in Pittsburgh MC Wiz Khalifa to supply a few expletive-riddled, look-at-me-now rhymes. And looking at the bigger picture, M5 put Midas-touch chart king Max Martin in the executive producer chair for their entire album.
The Washington Post had this to say:
“Overexposed is a hit-seeking missile that doesn’t just slaughter Maroon 5’s reputation for sincerity (which was pretty nonexistent anyway), it festoons its corpse with glitter, hairspray and Hello Kitty stickers. It seems more like a collaboration between Swedish hitmakers and AutoTune than between Levine and members of his band, who apparently exist, but it’s a small price to pay.”
If you buy into that notion, surely “Payphone” is the most glaring example — the perfect pop marriage of Levine’s soaring vocals, shimmering synths, a radio-friendly mid-tempo beat, finger snaps and just the acceptable amount of naughty edge (at least on the explicit version you don’t hear on the airwaves). Martin’s righthand button-pushers Shellback and Blanco really didn’t hold any tried-and-true hook back here.
So let’s get down to brass tacks: is “Payphone” big enough to disconnect the hold “Call Me Maybe” and “Wide Awake” have on the public, and dapple its sticky sweet goodness all over our summer consciousness? We don’t know about you, but upbeat heart-tugger certainly seems ever-present when we step within earshot of a radio. And that, in our book, means this ode to old-fashioned communication is without a doubt a frontrunner when it comes to 2012′s Summer Of The Summer.