24 April 2007

Maroon 5, Part 1: Who Brought Sexy Back?

You guys, I have two distinct ideas about Maroon 5. Two! So I'm going to have a mini-Maroon 5 marathon by posting two separate posts about them. Here's part one...

Maroon 5: The bringing back of Sexy.

How sexy is Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5? Well, first I guess you should watch this video for the band's new single "Makes Me Wonder":

If you don't think he seems sexy in that video, you may not agree with anything I'm about to say. However, regardless of your sexuality, sex, or gender, I'm betting you do think there's a sexiness about Adam Levine. After all, you have eyes. I mean, it's not just me, right? It's not like I'm talking about the raging sexiness of Bucky Covington and asking for no debate.

Anyway, seeing this video makes me think we should revisit the question of Justin Timberlake's ownership of The Sexy in male pop.

The marketing push surrounding the arrival of Timberlake's album "Future Sex/Love Sounds" focused on how he was singlehandedly (singlecrotchedly?) returning sex appeal to the male face of popular music. Hell, "SexyBack" declared that straight up.

And at the time, it seemed like the truth. Here was J.T., in his well-tailored suits and come-hither stare, unafraid to be seen as an object of desire when so many male pop stars... well, were there any other male pop stars around? Are there?

Timberlake essentially came rushing in to fill the void created after pop radio became dominated by two types of men: (1) rappers and hip-hop artists who insist that they never seem vulnerable or in any way capable of being a sexual object and (2) rockers who keep singing about how fucked up they are over bad relationships.

What does that do for people looking for a male sexual fantasy in pop? (Because face it, the days of D'Angelo and his sculpted nakedness are long gone.) On the one hand, you get a man who equates sex with utter dominance, insisting that his sexuality is entirely defined by his lust. "Sexy" is essentially replaced by "horny," and anyone who wants to be attracted to, say, 50 Cent or Ludacris, had better be ready to have fantasies about being a powerless bitch.

On the other hand, you get a man who seems devoid of sexuality because he is so morose about how sex has messed him up. Even in Hinder's "Lips of an Angel," in which the singer wants to cheat on his current girlfriend with his sultry ex, there's an asexual panic. The guy's immobilized because his girl's in the next room while he talks to the old flame. He can't get it on with anyone.

And in case anyone is getting upset about the "powerless bitch" paragraph, I'm not saying that fantasies of being dominated are bad. I have a liberal arts education, so I'm culturally incapable of denying anyone their identity space. But sometimes, you just want a man who seems like he might actually want to be wanted, you know? Who might enjoy fulfilling your needs or revel in the idea of other people finding him desirable. There's a softness and a humanity in that. And--dare I say it?--it makes room for love and intimacy in the sexual act.

And when J.T. rolled up with "SexyBack" and "My Love," it seemed like he alone was making room for those kinds of reactions.

But you know what? We all just forgot about Adam Levine! Because he's been rocking the same sexy vibe from the beginning. Do you remember the video for Maroon 5's "This Love?" He was not afraid to show some skin.

And in the video for "Makes Me Wonder," he's got the whole Bond-sexy thing down. Granted, it seems a little bit like a "SexyBack" retread, but arguably Levine is giving us more of what he gave before and not just copycatting.

Point being: I think Maroon 5 deserves more credit for The Sexy. Again, there's room for other images of male sexuality, but this particular image is in very limited supply. As a nation, we should make sure to get all hot 'n bothered by those who present it. It's only respectful.



At 5:08 PM, Anonymous kalle said...

Now, I haven't dug into this Maroon 5 thing at all yet, but I have to say that...

...Justin Timberlake. Is he really sexy? Sure, his song SexyBack kind of turns me on, and Scarlett Johansson is very hot in that other video, but Justin himself? To me, he's just a boy, which means basically "no character, no charisma", which tends to deduct quite a lot on the sex-o-meter. But then again, I'm that much older than him, not a girl, and not very much into boys.

And that Hinder "band". Mark, it's not even music. It's a marketing-department-generated, over-produced mock-up of Creed, which in itself was an over-produced, mock-up of Pearl Jam, a band that actually did/does create music that is worth listening.

Do I sound harsh and condemning? Well, it's 00:02 o'clock in here and I have still work to do...

At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Cassy said...

While I think you made some very valid points Mark, I think you may have forgotten how sexy Usher is - a hip-hop artist that doesn't portray women as sex toys.

Maroon 5 I think has always been sexy (Remember Harder to Breate with all that panting in the backround??) and yes Adam Levine looks pretty "sexy" in this video. I can't wait for this new album to come out.

At 3:09 PM, Blogger Mark Blankenship said...

Snap! Good point, Cassy! Usher is sexy.

And no, kalle, I don't think you're being too harsh. If we can't feel passionate, why live?

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous lilli said...

Just a short comment

Mark your analysis is pretty clever.
Though, being a woman, a can confront this with the subjective evaluation of sexy .. and this is what I found: JT as well as AL are sexy in that they make me think of sex indeed. But not of sex with them !
When you're over 25, I guess, a child's voice coming out of a skinny white body isn't what you fancy in your bed.

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous chichi said...

I agree that 'sexy' is beginning to surface when it comes to male entertainers.

I don't find JT particularly sexy though, but Adam Levine, absolutely, in this most recent videoclip.

When I first saw the clip, I was immediately reminded of the 80's UK pop group Spandau Ballet. They used to wear suits and were fairly coiffed (for the time).

I was puzzled why I would find Adam sexy now, as I didn't think he was sexy in previous video clips, and after some thought I think I know why. He's sexy now because:

a) He looks confident
See how he walks, the way he stands holding the guitar.

b) The way he moves (dead sexy)
That small repetitive movement at the hips!

c) His SUIT!
It's open at the top, which suggests that it could come off...He has a slim physique, and is tall which enhances his masculinity

d) His words
He's talking about feelings! "Give me something to believe in"
He's talking about intimacy "Pleasure that made you cry"

e) His voice/ the vocals
It's smooth! When the backup vocals (Adam again) come in with "a reason to try" it's a bit breathy, and light

f) His face
He looks straight into the camera and sings = confidence
He raises his eyebrow and looks away = doesn't need you
His face is really symmetrical, and he has attractive features

g) Combined masculine and feminine attributes = vulnerability
Feminine type attributes: he has a pretty face, and the high voice! It makes him a bit of an enigma because male singers are usually sweat and muscles. He has a more feminine quality.

JT isn't sexy to me because I don't find his face attractive (he has a funny nose). I don't like his suits either!


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