“Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5

Maroon 5 have developed such a consistent reputation for talentless hackwork in recent years that it’s sometimes difficult to remember what a really terrific act they were when they first debuted. Their first album, Songs About Jane, was one of the few great Pop releases in a year where all the good music seemed to come from Alternative and Indie Rock, and it covered an impressive spectrum of emotion related to romantic obsession, with this, the first single, representing the angriest, most violent end of that spectrum. Like their later song, “Animals”, this is in effect a violently threatening stalker song, but that’s where the resemblance ends. The problem with “Animals” was that it was too silly and over-the-top to be frightening…”Baby, I’m preyin’ on you tonight/hunt you down, eat you alive” just sounds like a joke, but “I have the tendency of getting very physical/so watch your step, ’cause if I do, you’ll need a miracle” sounds like a legitimate threat. Some might try to claim this kind of content is ‘offensive’, but remember that the Songs About Jane album is a study of unhealthy fixation and codependency that knows it’s unhealthy, and the almost psychotic rage of this song is definitely not being held up as an admirable model of behavior. In addition, the song rocks as hard as anything the band would ever released, with the tight groove and sour tang that were their trademarks at the time, and its intentionally creepy sound was a perfect fit for Adam Levine’s unusual vocal quality, making it an asset rather than the liability it’s been since he started slathering it with auto-tune.

Verdict: Good.

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