Maroon 5 

Wednesday, November 12; the Gargoyle at Washington University

Five cute guys singing pop songs sounds like a recipe for boy-band disaster, and in most cases it is. But somehow, perhaps because they write their own songs and -- gasp -- play their own instruments, the boys of Maroon 5 have managed to evade the bottomless crevasse of pop vapidity.

The band, anchored by Adam Levine's iron-pumping vocals, began when its members were latte-drinking West Coast grunge fans, penning wistful Vedder-esque tunes under the stage name Kara's Flowers. Eight years and several retired flannels later, the band re-emerged with Plan B, a digestible attempt to fuse the spice of R&B with the flavor of rock.

The debut album, Songs About Jane, compiles twelve songs deriding a not-so-anonymous ex-girlfriend and conjures with every sticky hook both Stevie Wonder and the Backstreet Boys. That's a big leap for most hipsters, but as fellow popster John Mayer says, it's the perfect blend of melody and grit.

Since the single "Harder to Breathe" has been named officially buzzworthy by MTV and now vies with Beyoncé for mainstream radio ubiquity, Maroon 5 is in even greater danger of being officially blown off by serious music connoisseurs. So the vitality and energy of their live show will have the dual task of winning over skeptics and demonstrating the performance, rather than the production, of pop music.

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