Friday, December 23, 2011

The Hanukkah Hotness, Night 4: Adam Levine

Happy fourth night of Hanukkah! Hanukkah may not require a pine tree, but man, do Israelis love their trees. So much so that they name their kids Ilan, which means "tree." Ilan is one of the romantic heroes in my Jewish-American short story "The Hope." A temple cantor, Ilan's singing voice and look are inspired by Adam Levine.

(Photo by Robin Wong, Creative Commons license)

The makers of “How to Play a LoveGame in 5 Gaga Steps” (okay, it's just me) would like to remind our readers that Lady Gaga is not the only pop star producing ultrastylish videos and songs with not-so-delicately suggestive lyrics. While many male rock stars could play the yin to Gaga’s yang – hell, she can dress in drag and do it herself - we subjectively choose Maroon 5.

L.A.-based band Maroon 5 is five guys: Mickey Madden, James Valentine, Jesse Carmichael, Matt Flynn, and Adam Levine. They are, however, victim to the classic lead singer syndrome, as the most high-profile of them is Levine. He stars with Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, and Blake Shelton on the musical talent show The Voice.

When the band performed at the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, Levine was dating model Anne Vyalitsyna. She’s played the female lead in some of the band’s videos, including “Misery” and “Never Gonna Leave This Bed.” He’s made media waves by posing nude for Cosmo UK, mocking the lack of music on MTV and telling Fox News not to play the band’s music. That last one was a protest against the conservative news channel’s stance on LGBTQ rights.

Heterosexual but not heterosexist, part of the L.A. garage band’s success strategy has been turning out pop-rock hooks – a musical flavor audiences associate with the feminine, according to L.A. Times chief pop music critic Ann Powers. “This decade is a pop decade,” Powers has said. “Artifice and affect are in, roughness and ‘authenticity’ are out.” For Powers, the ingredients of “artifice and affect” include prettiness, dance beats and theatricality – see any Maroon 5 video for examples. It hasn’t hurt the band that when Levine sang a duet with Rihanna, her voice was the lower of the two.

In keeping with that slightly hermaphroditic aesthetic, Maroon 5 can produce lyrics that straddle the line between sweet, heart-felt, soulful and sexy/dirty. ("Dirty" is a bit of a pun; the name "Adam" is derived from the Hebrew word for "earth.") How to play a lovegame in Maroon 5 easy steps:

1. I Want to Make You Feel Beautiful (“She Will Be Loved”)

2. Paint a Picture With My Hands (“Sunday Morning”)

3. Remember How My Body Tastes (“Shiver”)

4. Writhing in a Naked Sweat (“Harder to Breathe”)

5. Pleasure That Made You Cry (“Makes Me Wonder”)

Join me HERE on December 28th for a special Hanukkah post and giveaway.

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