In The Ones of the ’10s, I’m reviewing every single that hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 2010s and working my way up into the present.
Maroon 5- “One More Night”
HIT #1: September 29, 2012
STAYED AT #1: 9 weeks
Can a group be considered a sellout if they weren’t a high artistic force to begin with? That’s a question I’ve been thinking recently regarding Maroon 5. For many music critics, Maroon 5 are often dismissed as purveyors of soulless Top 40 schlock and how they’ve become an Adam Levine solo project rather than an actual band. A lot of that is true but at the same time, this is Maroon 5 not Pink Floyd we’re talking about. Even in their early days when they sounded more credible and like a real performing unit, Maroon 5 has always maintained a pop element in their music. This was a group that made slick pop-rock and funk-influenced music that did well on the radio and sold lots of albums and singles. Lyrically, the group wrote about relationships and all the troubles that come from them. They didn’t challenge anyone’s view of music.
But there is something to that narrative. After two successful albums in the 2000s, their third album, 2010’s Hands All Over, while not terrible was a disappointment. Desperate to maintain their charting relevance, Levine and a few outside songwriters came up with the pop rock-infused dance track “Moves Like Jagger.” The song clearly sounds like the work of outside people and it brought Maroon 5 back to the top of the charts in 2011. The band was given a new lease on the charts and ran with it adopting a more pop-centric sound catering to the sound of 2010s Top 40 radio while ceasing to sound like a real band with their growing reliance on pop songwriters and producers.
None of this is more evident than on their fourth album Overexposed which further cemented this new direction. It paid off big time with Overexposed peaking at #2 selling over two million copies in 2012 and starting with “Payphone,” Adam Levine’s realization that all those fairy tales are full of shit while trying to reach an old love on an outdated form of technology complete with a filler Wiz Khalifa verse and a truly ridiculous music video. It wound up peaking at #2 and on Billboard’s year-end list for 2012 was their biggest hit at #4 behind Gotye, fun., and Carly Rae Jepsen. (“Payphone” is a 4. Wiz Khalifa has already appeared in this column and will eventually appear in it again.)
For the follow-up, Levine teamed up with Max Martin and Shellback along with fellow industry songwriter Savan Kotecha. Kotecha has already written a bunch of hits for various artists up to this point but hadn’t written a #1 song. His two highest-charting songs before both peaked at #4 with Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” (“DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” is an 8. “What Makes You Beautiful” is a 5.) Together, they came up with a song about Levine having sex with a woman he clearly wants to get away from. The song was a big hit that it spent much of the fall of 2012 at #1 managing to block a huge cultural phenomenon that was arguably a bigger hit than “One More Night” was.
In its lyrics, “One More Night” is some serious stuff. Levine is in an unhealthy relationship with a woman describing it like going to war giving details of dysfunction like throwing things and slamming the door. He knows he should get out of this relationship but the sex is so good that he stays even though he feels guilty and stupid. Levine says he’ll only stay with his girl one more night but it’s clear this isn’t the only time he has said this. The sex is too good to overcome the abuse. This is not a great way for them to be living.
But even if you knew what the lyrics were about, it’s hard to feel invested in them. “One More Night” doesn’t invite itself for any deep listen or interpretation. It’s a song that’s designed to fade into the background while you’re out and about like many of Maroon 5 songs. And it’s not like anything else in the song makes up for it. The production while competent sounding like all Max Martin productions is a limp piece of pop-influenced reggae that sounds exactly like what you’d imagine coming from a duo of white Swedes. Music critic Chris Molanphy even described the song as “lite-reggae white pop à la Ace of Base” which is appropriate considering Martin got his start in producing with Ace of Base.
At one point in time, Adam Levine used to be able to sell a relationship with his reedy singing voice but on “One More Night” he sounds less interesting and more annoying with his falsetto ad-libs that open the song and run throughout. This delivery does not make Levine sound likable which is highlighted by the song’s music video showing Levine as this Rocky-like character training for a boxing match and living with his girlfriend, played by Minka Kelly, and baby son. Soon, Levine leaves them to go off to a boxing match where he wins while his girlfriend packs up and leaves. When Levine returns, everything is gone except for his awards. The video was directed by Peter Berg, a director who largely works in movies and TV. He’s only made a few music videos including one for Maroon 5’s 2014 hit “Maps.” (“Maps” peaked at #6. It’s a 5.) Watching the video, it’s hard to feel sorry for Levine with his prioritizing his career over his family.
The main reason people remember “One More Night” today is because of what it kept off the top spot. Yes, that’s right I’m talking about Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Even though for many the song hung huge over popular culture in late 2012, much of the song’s activity was through its music video on YouTube. At this time, Billboard did not count YouTube or any online activity into its chart methodology. “Gangnam Style” was a big seller online topping Billboard’s Digital Songs chart but what ultimately kept it from the top was airplay. Due to its mostly foreign-language lyrics, radio wasn’t playing the song as much and as a result, it only peaked at #12 on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart. So thanks to that difference, “Gangnam Style,” one of the 2010s most well-remembered smashes, peaked in the runner up spot behind Adam Levine’s forgettable song about staying in an unhealthy relationship for sex. Chart history can be so weird sometimes.
Billboard would soon change these rules to allow YouTube views to account for the charts just in time for another viral hit to get big but we’ll get to that eventually. Even knowing all these conditions at the time, it’s still weird to think of “One More Night” blocking “Gangnam Style” considering I clearly remember the time it was #1 and don’t recall hearing it ever compared with “Gangnam Style” which was everywhere. On the Hot 100, “One More Night” was #1 when Superstorm Sandy wrecked my area on Long Island along with much of the East Coast along with Barack Obama getting re-elected President. I could make a connection to these events but there’s nothing more I can say about a song this inessential. Was anyone listening to “One More Night” outside of suburban radio listeners? If so, I’d like to hear it down in the comments.
After “One More Night,” Overexposed launched two more Top 10 hits that are more indistinguishable Top 40 filler with the lite-rock “Daylight” and the dance-pop “Love Somebody.” (“Daylight peaked at #7. “Love Somebody” peaked at #10. Both songs are 5s.) Maroon 5 continued on landing consistently in the Top 10 for the rest of the decade. They’ll be in this column again. So will Max Martin and Shellback as writers and producers as well as Savan Koetcha as a songwriter.
BONUS BEATS: Here’s Lena Dunham and Zosia Mamet singing along to “One More Night” in the car before Adam Driver turns it off on a 2014 episode of Girls:
THE NUMBER TWOS: Psy’s gloriously goofy K-pop viral satire on Korean culture, “Gangnam Style,” peaked at #2 for seven weeks behind “One More Night.” It’s an 8 for all those sexy ladies. And here is its equally popular music video:
THE 10S OF THE ‘10S: fun.’s bombastic existential crisis anthem, “Some Nights,” peaked at #3 behind “One More Night” It’s one hell of a 10!
Adele’s majestic Oscar-winning Bond theme “Skyfall” peaked at #8 behind “One More Night.” It’s an 8.
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