Let’s admit it, Maroon 5 is the most popular American band of the 21st Century

The biggest band in the world.
The biggest band in the world.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The 1960s and 70s had The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The 2000s and 2010s have Maroon 5.

On Nov. 3, Maroon 5 released their sixth album, Red Pill Blues. While critics shrugged—music review site Pitchfork called it “numbing” soft rock—the masses once again ate it up. The album was No. 2 in the US in its first week, making Red Pill Blues the band’s fifth album to hit the top two. The only one of Maroon 5’s albums not to reach those heights was their 2003 debut, Song About Jane, which eventually sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and included pop-rock classics “This Love,” “She Will Be Loved,” and “Sunday Morning.”

But while Maroon 5 has had popular albums, where they really shine is at making hit singles. Billboard’s Top 40 is typically dominated by young solo artists (many of whom were once Disney Channel TV stars), which makes the band—a bunch of men in their late 30s—anomalous interlopers.

Since 2000, Maroon 5 has had 13 songs in Billboard’s Top 10—twice as many as any other band. Including solo artists, only Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Beyonce, and Katy Perry have had more. The band’s most recent single “What Lovers Do,” a delectable piece of slick pop-funk featuring the singer SZA, currently sits at No. 9.

Perhaps the most surprising fact about Maroon 5 is that they are actually a band. The act’s image is dominated by frontman Adam Levine, one of the star’s of NBC’s hit musical competition show The Voice, but the rest of Maroon 5 is far from a rotating cast. Only one of the band’s five original members has left, and three new members have been added since to develop the sound. All of the members play instruments.

In a 2014 interview with the BBC, Maroon 5 complained that people often assume they are a boy band. “I don’t think people understood that we wrote our own songs,” said guitarist James Valentine, who describes the Maroon 5 formula for writing hits as “minor [key], funk, and heartbreak.”

Still, the band is not working entirely without help from the pop song machine. For their last two albums, they collaborated with professional songwriters like Max Martin and John Ryan.

Whether you like it or not, Maroon 5 is perhaps the most popular band of the past two decades, and they show no signs of slowing down.