Maroon 5 at The Forum — A Full Review

Let me begin this post by assuring my readers that at one point in my life, I was a massive fan of Maroon 5. In fact, I’d say I was one of their first, and my love began when Adam Levine stood front and center on ‘Last Call with Carson Daly’ to debut ‘Songs About Jane,’ their first record. That album was almost entirely written by Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael, the latter of which is the band’s pianist and rhythm guitarist. The two also almost exclusively wrote the band’s second album, ‘It Won’t Be Soon Before Long,’ which was also a success. But in 2010, everything changed. They released ‘Hands All Over,’ which debuted far below expectations. This was especially surprising given that it was produced by legendary veteran Mutt Lange. In an interview with Howard Stern, Levine referenced a rift with Lange while making the album, implying that once they worked out their differences, it was smooth sailing. Did Levine tie Mutt’s hands, thereby hindering the creative process, or did the two simply not get along — and the resulting album reflected their rancor? It’s hard to say and sometimes things just don’t land, but the experience seemed to have hit Levine hard given that for their next three albums, ‘Overexposed,’ ‘V,’ and ‘Red Pill Blues,’ Maroon 5 opened their doors to a daunting amount of songwriters outside their band. Was that the right decision? Perhaps. I certainly enjoyed those records. But I cannot help but think when you employ the industry’s heaviest hitters to keep you relevant, you move from a bunch of friends in their garage doing what they love to a group of guys trying to be famous no matter what the creative cost.

When I arrived at The Forum to see Maroon 5 live, I had an open mind. I promise. As soon as Adam began singing, I noticed his live vocals seemed far too low for the venue, which I first blamed on the front of house engineer. Then my friend asked if he was lip-syncing, and it was as if my mother just confessed Santa isn’t real (I’m Jewish — but you get the point). “It’s far too perfect,” she said. Later, when it felt as if he was in fact singing live, the vocals sounded astoundingly different. Though I have no direct confirmation that Levine lip-synced, I’ll say that I pay a hefty ticket price for a reason, and if Sheryl Crow can give an incredible performance at The Greek with a cold and cracked voice, Levine can sing that entire concert live. But let’s assume he sang live, for argument’s sake.

It’s no secret that Adam Levine is often the target of “haters.” Though celebrities will always deal with negative press, these types of attacks start from somewhere. Even Jonah Hill (a longtime friend of Levine) told Howard Stern that though Levine gets a bad reputation, he’s an extremely kind, genuine guy. So why the misconception? For starters, Levine seems arrogant. Why? Because he took the stage in sweatpants (literally), a wife-beater, and sneakers. This is a far cry from the suits the band was known for wearing during their rise, and it’s not acceptable for a grocery store run let alone the stage at The Forum. It’s as if Levine is so hot he’d look good in anything, and so famous he can’t be bothered to forgo his pajamas while performing. At one point he even took a swipe at James Valentine’s (lead guitarist) jumpsuit, which was actually damn cool. In fact, Valentine was the best part of the show, given that the man seemed to purely want to play his instrument, rather than artificially hamming it up for the audience. Speaking of hamming it up, Levine did this in all the wrong places. For starters, he almost exclusively played downstage right, despite having an underutilized stage (in the shape of a “V”) in the center of the audience. When he sang “She Will Be Loved” beside Valentine for the encore while standing on the unique stage mid-audience, it provided a rare authentic moment that could have been duplicated throughout the show to provide a more dynamic experience, rather than a light-assault akin to a South Beach club. Sit on a stool and sing a ballad, or do anything other than burn through your material while barely addressing the audience. I’m not there to see you hit the play button on your record and call it a concert. Speaking of which, I’d have loved to see more of the Maroon 5 band, but because of the on-stage setup, they were basically hidden like Hollywood Squares. Okay — I’ll stop now. I seem angry.

Celebrity Rundown — The Baby Bump Edition

Though there’s a very public push to move away from the fame game’s absurd portrayal of an unobtainable life, I personally like my celebrities with a side of fantasy. After all, isn’t there enough reality in our dull day-to-day? So when a group of very beautiful models and actresses took to Instagram to look pregnant and happy with their beautiful body intact, I figured I’d celebrate it with a re-post.

Chrissy Tiegen

Bar Rafaeli

Coming soon… A baby 😜 & My swimwear collection BAR for @hoodiesil

A photo posted by Bar Refaeli (@barrefaeli) on

Audrina Patridge

2 buns and 1 in the oven ❤️❤️❤️ @caseyloza thanks for the pic

A photo posted by Audrina Patridge (@audrinapatridge) on

Hilaria Baldwin

Behati Prinsloo

My two favorite laker fans. 👶🏼🍼🏀

A photo posted by Adam Levine (@adamlevine) on

Candice Swanepoel

Getting the Tum in the the sun 🌞👙🌞👙

A photo posted by Candice Swanepoel (@angelcandices) on

Tabloid Gossip: Your Week of Celebrity News

Ciara and Russell Wilson are engaged. Wonderwall

Kim Kardashian revealed another photo of son Saint West. E! Online

Tiger Woods’ ex-wife is back on with her billionaire boyfriend. Contact Music

John Stamos has a new lady love. Wet Paint

Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo have a baby on the way. Just Jared

Jillian Michaels is engaged. People

Alec Baldwin and his wife are expecting their third child together. Inquisitr

‘Mean Girls’ star Lacey Chabert is pregnant. RTW

Dancing With the Stars’ Kym Johnson and Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec are engaged. ET Online

Kylie Jenner’s boyfriend Tyga might be having financial problems. Hollywood Life

Kylie Minogue is marrying her much-younger boyfriend. Stuff

Adam Levine Bashes Record Labels Behind ‘The Voice’

The VoiceAdam Levine visited Howard Stern and the Maroon 5 star slammed the record labels behind ‘The Voice,’ for their inability to produce an actual music star, unlike ‘American Idol,’ who has had massive success with Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and more. According to Levine, when the baton is passed post-Voice, the label flounders. He said that though he tries to help by using his own star power to promote his winners, the process is far too complicated to fix.  Per the Washington Post, “Depending on their genre, winners go on to a variety of Universal labels, from Republic Records (Tessanne Chin, Sawyer Fredericks) to Nashville’s Big Machine (Danielle Bradbery, Cassadee Pope).” He also added that ‘American Idol’ released new singles during the finale, followed by a very quick turnout of their debut album. ‘The Voice’ does not.

What’s interesting about Levine’s stance is that Simon Cowell’s true motivation behind ‘American Idol’ was always to produce a music star, not a television show. Cowell felt the labels weren’t doing their job of finding the next sensation, so he’d do it for them.  His planned worked, and he used ‘American Idol’ as a platform to push his find. ‘The Voice,’ is created by powerhouse reality producer Mark Burnett, whose musical expertise doesn’t hold a candle to Cowell. The man can make a show, but he can’t make a music star. Furthermore, the judging panel has zero A&R experience, and while it might be nice to see Gwen Stefani’s outfits atop a big red chair, she’s never found the next big thing. As for Adam Levine himself, my critique holds the same weight.

Hats off to Adam Levine for an honest Howard Stern interview. Hopefully the powers that be will attempt an intervention and take action. Otherwise, you’re just a bunch of big stars on big red chairs with big paychecks. It’s surely a pretty picture, but when the gloss begins to fade, so will the audience.

Maroon 5 Crashes Weddings Now — REAL OR FAKE?

Let me preface this post by announcing prejudice, as I make it a habit to pounce on Adam Levine wherever possible, which I’ll do again with his alleged wedding-crash video. First, I smell a rat. How do you crash a wedding with an entire camera crew and setup pre-performance? Did they notice the Maroon 5 douche-crew camping out at their digs? And if they didn’t consent, who signed the contract? On top of that, it takes a lot of hubris to assume your presence is welcomed at a wedding, fame or not. I like the song, though. It’s catchy. Watch below.

MTV VMA’s Recap: WATCH PERFORMANCES NOW

For a pocket of time each year, MTV enters a time machine to celebrate the music that once drove its channel. Last night’s VMA’s brought out the industry’s best players, who executed some unforgettable (and forgettable) performances. Enjoy the most notable videos below, along with my thoughts on each.

Sam Smith was an evening standout, with his vulnerable, monster-hit, “Stay With Me.” The refreshing performance reminds us all that not everyone needs a sparkly leotard to get noticed.

Nikki Minaj, Ariana Grande, and Jessie J joined together for their performance, with Nikki stealing the show. As for Minaj’s wardrobe malfunction, I have an extremely low tolerance for her unprofessional antics. Had the dress simply snapped open, I’d be more forgiving, but she clearly knew during dress rehearsal that she’d have an issue with time, and she chose to take the risk. As a result, she trumped her female counter-parts in the press, who have solely chosen to cover the mistake. And though this may be mean to mention, a music industry insider has pointed something out to me about Jessie J, and it’s worth repeating. It’s just not going to happen, despite the enormous push from her label. To quote my friend, “She’s pop’s Grouplove,” and it’s time to abort mission.

Beyonce brought down the house with a standout medley of hits, proving once again through professionalism and vocal prowess that she deserves her reigning title as Queen Bey.

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I’ve recently discovered 5 Seconds of Summer, and though I’d love to hate on the boy band, much like One Direction, I simply can’t. They are good, their songs are catchy, and they’re adorable. Watch their sweet song below. It will pull at your heartstrings.

For a guy who bad-mouthed the VMAs last year, it’s interesting to see him perform, but given that Adam Levine has sold his soul to secure his billboard status, I’m not surprised. It’s also worth mentioning that this is a professional show, and the guy is wearing a jersey. Remember when Maroon 5 wore suits? Yeah . . . so do I.

This was not the best night for Usher, who looked noticeably winded. I usually love the guy, so that’s all I will say.

Tabloid Gossip: Week-in-Review

Susan Sarandon banged David Bowie. NYDN

Piper Parabo is married. People

Zoe Saldana is expecting twins. Refinery29

Adam Levine got married in Mexico. LAT

Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed are getting cozy. E! Online

Steven Bauer, 57, is dating an 18 year old. Radar Online

Pamela Anderson is back with Rick Solomon. Ok! Magazine

Kelsey Grammar had his sixth child. ICYDK

Michael Moore got divorced. Contact Music

George Takei still hates William Shatner. Uproxx

Nina Dobrev was spotted with Ben McKenzie. Just Jared

Your Week of Gossip — Tabloid Nutshell

Adam Levine married Behati Prinsloo. Buzzfeed

Sofia Vergara is seeing Joe Manganiello. PopSugar

Jeff Goldblum is engaged to a much younger woman. Stuff

Nick Lachey is having a second child. Today

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are having another baby. Just Jared

Zac Efron got cozy with Michelle Rodriguez. Us Magazine

Nikki Reed is dating Ian Somerhalder. Hollywood Take

Lea Michele found happiness with a new man. BWN

The Casey Kasem family drama continues. Radar Online

Maroon 5: Past and Present — Has the Band Sold Out?

When Maroon 5 debuted ‘Songs About Jane’ in 2002, their success became immediately clear. They offered an original alternative to the homogenized music industry, and they looked the part. Fronted by Adam Levine, the album reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200, with five charting singles and 5 million records sold to date. The album was exclusively penned by keyboardist Jesse Carmichael and Adam Levine. Their sophomore release, ‘It Won’t Be Soon Before Long,’ also had mainstream success, with a chart-topping single and record-setting iTunes sales. The record was also exclusively penned by its band members, including Adam Levine, Jesse Carmichael, and lead guitarist James Valentine. Everything changed on their third release, with the less than successful, ‘Hands All Over.’

Produced by the legendary Mutt Lange and penned primarily by its members, ‘Hands All Over’ failed to gain traction, and Levine himself expressed his disappointment, saying “It’s falling short in some ways, but you have to face that. You can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. But it’s doing well at the same time. When you become accustomed to a certain level of success, anything less becomes unsatisfying.” The failure changed their focus, and their follow-up album, ‘Overexposed,’ represented a dramatic shift for the band. The title itself puns Levine’s stand-alone status, given his stint on NBC’s ‘The Voice.’ The pop-driven record is packed with a plethora high-powered producers, including Max Martin, Ryan Tedder, Shellback, and Benny Blanco. It’s also met with a shocking amount of songwriters, with James Valentine’s paltry four credits marking his first back-seat in the penning process. Levine’s plan worked. The album debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200.

Despite the success of Maroon 5’s noteworthy new direction, loyal fans are less than pleased. The band is aware of the criticism, with James Valentine saying, “A lot of our fans would love to hear us make another ‘Songs About Jane’ type of record, and I think as some point we’ll go back in and make a record in that sort of way, but [our upcoming release] is not that type of record.” That fifth release, ‘V’ also attracted high-powered songwriters and producers, including Ryan Tedder, Sia, Benny Blanco, Max Martin, and more. The record welcomes the return of founding member Jesse Carmichael, who sat out for ‘Overexposed.’

The trajectory of Maroon 5 sparks a larger debate, with answers only my readers can decide. When a band brings on so many of today’s most talked-about songwriters to help with their record, are they really a band, or are they simply a group of pop-tarts who can play the music written by others? Plus, isn’t the industry homogenized enough without recycling the air from a very small sphere? Sure I listen to ‘Overexposed’ on repeat, but did Maroon 5 sell their soul for their success?

Listen to “Maps,” the first single off their new record, ‘V.’

The Voice: George Horga Jr. v. Juhi — WATCH NOW

There’s a reason Cee Lo Green hasn’t won The Voice, and the video below is a perfect example. George Horga Jr. competed against Juhi, who stole the show singing her part of Gavin DeGraw’s ‘The Best I’ve Ever Had.’ Cee Lo voted for George, and Adam Levine swooped in to rescue the very talented Juhi, who will likely go far in the competition. To be fair to George, this was one of my favorite all-time battles. Watch below.