Girls Like You
October 1, 2018
Todd plays "Girls Like You" on the piano.
MAROON 5 ft. CARDI B - GIRLS LIKE YOU
A pop song review
Todd: Man, pop music has really gone downhill, right? Actually, hold up, let's stop. The other day, I got a comment about, "Hey, Todd, you're not gonna whine more about the decline of pop music, are you? [shot of Music Club article] You've been doing that for, like, two years now." Well, fair enough. [shrugs] But, here's a new thing I didn't realize until...until just, like, today. See, I think I misdiagnosed what's happening.
Video for Camila Cabello - "Never Be the Same"Todd (VO): Yes, pop music as a genre is on the decline.
Todd: That's normal; it goes in and out of style.
Montage clips of Coolio ft. LV - "Gangsta's Paradise"; Smashing Pumpkins - "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"; Usher ft. Lil Jon & Ludacris - "Yeah!"; BlocBoy JB ft. Drake - "Look Alive"Todd (VO): It wasn't big in the mid-'90s when gangsta rap and alternative rock ruled. It wasn't big in the early-mid 2000s when the big music was crunk and R&B. And it's not big now when hip-hop yet again rules everything. If you're not a rapper, you're either a niche artist or a has-been.
Todd: But pop music isn't just irrelevant. It was irrelevant last year, it's close to nonexistent this year.
Video for Alessia Cara - "Growing Pains"Todd (VO): This past summer was almost barren in terms of big, summertime pop smashes [clip of J Cole - "ATM"] including from rappers who are still really hot right now.
Todd: And that's what made me realize: Pop singles aren't hits anymore because pop is declining, it's because singles themselves are declining.
Clip of SoundCloud adTodd (VO): Everyone thought that streaming would kill albums. I think it's actually doing the opposite. [quick shots of...] Now radio, music videos, MP3s were all...
Todd: ...great formats for singles, but...
Same clip of ad which also features...Todd (VO): ...those are gone or forgotten in favor of Spotify, which is set up way easier for album listening. And...
Todd: ...I think because of that, more and more, the album is the only real measurement of hype and popularity.
Todd (VO): I think 'cause everything goes through Spotify now. And Spotify is way easier to listen to albums with. All the buzz comes from a big name who drops a new record or a mixtape, and...that'll be a big deal for a few weeks. [clip of Tyga ft. Offset - "Taste" from Billboard website] And meanwhile, singles have become a vestigial concept. An obsolete idea that no longer matters in the music industry, like [images of...] cassettes...or MTV...or Pitbull.
Todd: And that, I think, is the key factor in pop's lack of relevance. It's a singles-oriented genre, [shot of Business Report article: "Is Streaming Audio Making Radio Irrelevant?"] and there's almost no way to get singles into the popular consciousness anymore. [shot of another article: "Spotify will now let artists directly upload their music to the platform"] Now that Spotify has declared war on SoundCloud, there's gonna be none. And that's not a great development if you prefer singles to albums. To the point that you've built a career on YouTube around your particular listening habits. Ahem.
Video for Cardi B, Bad Bunny, & J Balvin - "I Like It"Todd (VO): I'm not saying singles have completely disappeared. But to have a hit song, and I-I don't mean radio play, but...
Todd: ...I mean something that actively sticks in people's minds, an actual memorable hit...
Video for Drake - "In My Feelings"Todd (VO): ...you have to be one of the biggest names in music. You have...
Todd: ...to be Drake, or Cardi, or Ariana. [pause] Or Maroon 5.
Video for "Girls Like You"
Adam Levine: 24 hours
I need...Todd (VO): The fact that Maroon 5 is so successful has been tragic at every point in the past decade. But for them to be able to do it in 2018, when the pipeline has [image of water pipe showing...] dwindled to a trickle, is a total systemic failure. If there is any act that should not be able to survive in these scarce times, it is Maroon 5, a band no one likes.
Todd: I vowed sometime in the past five years to never do another Maroon 5 episode again.
Video for Maroon 5 - "Sugar"Todd (VO): Because there is absolutely nothing to say about them, and by them I mean him, 'cause they are not a band. Maroon 5 would shit out a shit that shit right up the charts and sound exactly like their last shits, and I'd save my rants for the year-end worst list where Maroon 5 showed up with clockwork regularity.
Todd: In fact, I'd already filmed their segment for this year. Here it is.
Static transition from Honorable Mentions segment of Todd's Top 10 Worst List
Clip of "Wait"
Adam: Wait, can you turn aroundTodd (VO): Fuck you, Maroon 5!
Todd: You suck!
Back to piano
Todd: But, I actually thought maybe at long last, we were done with this shit.
Video for Maroon 5 ft. Kendrick Lamar - "Don't Wanna Know"Todd (VO): With each successive Maroon 5 single being more easily ignorable than the last, I thought we were finally over the hump. "They're finally on their way out," I thought.
Todd: I was, as I always am, dead wrong, as Maroon 5 this week...
Clip of Fox News Super Bowl LIII reportTodd (VO): ...not only got announced to headline the Super Bowl halftime show, but also [shot of Billboard article: "Maroon 5 & Cardi B's 'Girls Like You' Hits No. 1 on Hot 100..."] dethrone Drake for yet another #1 hit...
Todd: ..."Girls Like You."
Adam: Girls like you
Love fun, yeah me too
What I want when I come through
I need a girl like you, yeah yeahTodd: [beat; song plays in the background before fading out] "Girls Like You" is the worst song Maroon 5 has ever recorded.
Todd (VO): I'm not speaking lightly, and I'm not exaggerating. So, let me repeat it.
Todd: The worst. Song. Maroon 5 has ever recorded.
Montage clips of...Todd (VO): Worse than "One More Night", worse than "Wake Up Call," worse than "Animals-mals," [and finally...] worse than their failed single, "Feelings," which...
Todd: ...ugh. That one's really something you just gotta listen to for yourself.
Adam: I got these feelingsTodd winces in pain listening to Levine's falsetto
Clip of "Girls Like You"Todd (VO): Yes, I am saying that "Girls Like You" is worse than all of that. All those other songs are deeply annoying, but annoying is something you can work with. Annoying demonstrates some kind of flavor. "Girls Like You" is the most baffling hit of their career because it has absolutely nothing.
Todd: It is the most worthless song they have ever released in a long career of uninspired...
Todd (VO): ...disinterested, worthless singles.
Todd: In fact, Maroon 5 appeared to have become my other least favorite band of all time, Chicago.
Video for Chicago - "Hold Me Now"
Peter Cetera: Hold me now
Chicago: It's hard for me to say I'm sorryTodd (VO): I can't believe I once called Chicago the Nickelback of the '80s, when they were clearly the Maroon 5 of the '80s.
Todd: It's all there.
Montage side-by side clips of "25 or 6 to 4" and "This Love"; "If You Leave Me Now" and "Payphone"; "You're the Inspiration" and "What Lovers Do"Todd (VO): They started out OK; they sold out hard about eight years into their career; they had a ceaseless decade-long string of soulless, insipid soft rock.
Todd: And their frontman has the worst voice in history.
Snippets of Levine and Cetera's falsetto notes followed by a clip of a beaker breakingTodd: So why "Girls Like You?" [screenshot Hot 100 chart with "Girls Like You" at #1] Why is that the #1 hit?
(NOTE: This is a recurring question that Todd asks throughout the review with the same accompanying Billboard screenshot.)
Clip of Jimmy Kimmel Live!Todd (VO): Is it off the strength of the album, now that we're an album-listening public again?
Todd: God no! They're not an album band.
Brief clip of Adam Levine singing in the studioTodd (VO): No one gets excited for a new Maroon 5 record.
Todd: Like, look at their latest album, [album cover for...] Red Pill Blues. Apparently, Levine was not aware that "red pill" had been [shot of article: "Inside Red Pill, The Weird New Cult For Men Who Don't Understand Women"] hijacked by a really nasty group of online shitheads. And I don't blame him for not knowing that for the record. Why would he? Why would he want to know about that? I wish I didn't know about that.
Clip of live performance of "Wait"Todd (VO): But, yeah. That's a self-inflicted wound that would matter more, except...
Todd: ...again, they're not an album band.
Video for "Cold"Todd (VO): They've had five singles from this album cycle, all of them mildly successful, but two of them didn't even make it onto the record.
Todd: And no one cared because the LP does not matter.
Todd (VO): So why "Girls Like You?"
Todd: Is it the lyrics? What are the lyrics?
Clip of "Girls Like You"
Adam: Spent 24 hours
I need more hours with youTodd (VO): Oh, gee, yet another vaguely romantic song that hints at some kind of fun, but in a thoroughly nonspecific and non-erotic way.
Todd: Levine doesn't even seem to know whether it's about a serious relationship...
Adam: We spent the late nights
Making things right, between usTodd: ...or an on-and-off, friends with benefits situation.
Adam: When I come through
I need a girl like youTodd: He doesn't know, he doesn't care. No one does. I don't even know what mood he's going for. Is it supposed to be sexy?
Todd (VO): I don't see how as...these days Adam Levine is...
Todd: ...basically just an animatronic Ken doll.
Todd (VO): So why "Girls Like You?"
Todd: Is it the chorus?
Adam: 'Cause girls like you
Run around with guys like me
'Til sundown, when I come through
I need a girl like you, yeah yeahTodd (VO): I can't imagine how. This is some weaksauce shit. The lyrics convey nothing.
Todd: Girls like you, guys like me. What are "girls like you?"
Todd (VO): What makes "girls like you" like you? Are they hot? Fun? Smart?
Todd: Five hundred pounds? What?! There's nothing there!
Todd (VO): There's no hook in the hook! It never kicks...
Todd: ...in, it never starts!
Todd (VO): The song operates at a low, irritating mellow that doesn't ever end. In fact...
Todd: ...wait. Is that some familiar chords I hear?
Black screen with chords: I . V . vi. IV
Single bar of Nick Long's "Four Chord Song" over opening of Journey - "Don't Stop Believing"Todd (VO): Pop song chords—The Comic Sans of musical structure. [clip of Tiësto & Dzeko ft. Preme & Post Malone - "Jackie Chan"] Of course songs don't necessarily need choruses anymore because it's all about the drop these days.
Todd: But..."Girls Like You" doesn't have a drop.
Todd (VO): It-it seems really out of step with current trends, 'cause Maroon 5 are still playing the same playbook they've done this entire decade. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, guest rapper. That's not really how pop songs work anymore.
Todd: At least that's what I thought, but then I realized, "Wait. It does have a drop."
Todd (VO): I mean, some kind of honking, unpleasant synth riff that's the focal point of the song.
Adam: Yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeahTodd: [throws hands up] There it is!
Todd (VO): Levine's voice is the drop! I mean, it vaguely sounds like a human voice singing words, but it's clearly not. It's too smooth and artificial.
Todd: It's like the same vocal modulation [clip of "The Middle" by...] that Zedd uses on his choruses.
Maren Morris: Meet me in the middleTodd (VO): Except by accident, and awful.
Todd: In fact, robotic and artificial is basically the entire aesthetic of Maroon 5 these days.
Todd (VO): I am fully convinced that Adam Levine [image of colorful graphic portrait] is a virtual singer. He's entirely CGI. He's not a person. He couldn't pass a [shot of...] CAPTCHA.
Todd: At least that's the impression I get from his music.
Clip of ET Canada interview with LevineTodd (VO): In real life, Levine is apparently a very forceful personality. [clip of...] I don't watch The Voice, but apparently he's engaging enough to entertain people on a weekly show for seven years. And he has enough personality to turn [shot of article: "Adam Levine's 'I'm Not a Douche' Profile Proves He's a Major Douche"] a lot of people off. I've seen him get called human chlamydia.
Todd: Well, if he's so supposedly arrogant and douchey, why doesn't it show up in his music?
Clip of "Girls Like You"
Adam: Maybe it's 6:45
Maybe I'm barely aliveTodd (VO): This is not douchebag music.
Todd: I mean, if only.
Video for "Moves Like Jagger"Todd (VO): Now, I first diagnosed this back in 2011 with "Moves Like Jagger," their big pop sellout. It sounds like a total prog jazz compared to their new stuff, but at the time it was the sellout.
Todd: And I don't like using that word, but...I can't think of a...
Todd (VO): ...better example than this, because Levine seemed really, really uncomfortable with relying on other songwriters. He seems more comfortable with it now. But he also seems bored as hell. He decided being famous was more important to his ego than making interesting music.
Todd: So if his supposed arrogance shows up in his music anymore, it's the worst kind. The kind that craves attention more than it craves being good. Also called laziness.
Todd (VO): So why "Girls Like You?"
Todd: Is it the video?
Todd (VO): I certainly wouldn't discount it. In fact, I think that's the best theory. After all, [clips of Drake - "God's Plan"...] most of the few remaining big singles we have gotten [...and Childish Gambino - "This Is America"] have been big off the video.
Todd: And I guess in this, the [image of female gender empowerment symbol] year of the woman, which for the record doesn't seem to be going all that great for women, but...
Todd (VO): ...in this year, it's certainly not a bad promotional idea to put the camera on various, inspiring women. Many of them serious activists or survivors or so on. It's not a terrible idea; in fact it's quite a good one. It's just...
Todd: ...what does this have to do with the song?!
Todd (VO): In fact, Levine has said about the inspiration for the video, quote...[picture of Adam Levine next to screen capture of quote from The Independent] "We sat and listened to the song, like, 150 times and tried to work out what it was for - how to enhance the song's meaning." Which...
Todd: ...yeah, that sounds about right. Even he doesn't know what the song's for.
Todd (VO): Just imagine him listening to his own song like, [image of guy with hands to his head phones shouting...] "What's the point of this?!" Apparently, he and the video director decided "Girls Like You" was a tribute to all the strong ladies in the world.
Todd: Yeah, [claps] fellas. Give it up for the ladies. Great. It'd be a better idea if we didn't already have a much better video for that.
Clip of Drake - "Nice For What"
Drake: Everybody get your mothafuckin' roll on
I know shorty and she doesn't want no...Todd: Just a month before this video came out...
Todd (VO): ...Drake released the video for "Nice For What," which also features an array of female celebrities.
Todd: And it blows "Girls Like You" out of the water.
Todd (VO): Because "Nice For What," the song, actually is a shoutout to all the strong ladies of the world.
Drake: You know dark days, you know hard timesTodd: "Girls Like You" and its cameos meanwhile...
Todd (VO): ...I'm not gonna call it meaningless. I'm sure those ladies appreciated the gesture and...it does nicely erase that whole red pill blunder. But, Levine clumsily hot-gluing the politics of the day onto his half-finished song...
Todd: ...look, yeah, I understand there-there's more things going on in the world than one boring band. Don't mistake me hating Maroon 5 for, like, righteousness or anything. We-we're all having fun here. But...
Todd (VO): ...this limp dab of empowerment doesn't do a thing to elevate the song. It just reminds me that important things are happening...
Todd: ...while Levine jerks around singing banal shit that even he doesn't care about.
Clip of "Nice For What"Todd (VO): And more importantly, every woman in Drake's video looks fuckin' great, and awesome, and distinct. It's a fantastic video. ["Girls Like You"] The women in "Girls Like You" don't get to do anything but try in vain to bust a groove to this...beatless, grooveless song. [clip of video showing...] Except, of course, for Ellen DeGeneres. You know, the woman who dances? Apparently even she can't bring herself to dance to this.
Todd (VO): [sighs] So why "Girls Like You?"
Todd: Is it Cardi B?
Clip of "Girls Like You"
Cardi B: Not too long ago, I was dancing for dollars
Know it's really real if I let you meet...Todd (VO): Cardi B is the hottest shit in the world right now. She appears to be the one rapper left who can collaborate on a pop song and enhance it. It's not a bad theory. But let me tell you, this verse is awful.
Todd: Well, actually, no. It's not awful, it's not her best work, but it's not awful. It's just so out of place.
Cardi: So who you gonna call? Cardi, Cardi
Come and rev it up like a Harley, HarleyTodd (VO): She's giving it so much energy, but the music is giving her nothing to work with.
Todd: It's like watching a cheerleading squad trying to give it their all for a shitty team.
Clip of high school cheerleading team
Cheerleaders: Give me an A!
Image of bored guy sitting on benchwarmers; crickets chirp in the background
Cardi: I don't play when it comes to my heart, let's get it thoughTodd (VO): She sounds like she's rapping to nothing. It's a sprig of parsley on a pile of vomit; it only makes it worse. So why "Girls Like You?"
Todd: Is it because people actually like it? [pause] Well, I reject that out of hand obviously. I refuse to believe that.
Todd (VO): Why "Girls Like You?" Here's my real answer: Because there's nothing else right now. Maroon 5 has beaten a weak field. Maroon 5 is running unopposed. No one listens to singles, but Maroon 5 always sneaks in under the radar because their stuff resembles music the same way that [image of bowl of...] wax fruit resembles real apples or bananas. It's the right length...
Todd: ...melody goes up and down in the right places...
Todd (VO): ...and Maroon 5 has been around long enough that they've tricked people into thinking they belong there the [image of...] same way that the newspaper is filled with 100-year old comics no one reads.
Todd: But there is one hope. And that's the Super Bowl.
Promotional ad for Super BowlTodd (VO): My one hope is that the Super Bowl signals the end of all this. The same way it killed [videos of halftime shows for...] Justin Timberlake [...and...] and the Black Eyed Peas.
Todd: Like, y'all realize that Maroon 5 is just a Trojan horse for a Cardi B halftime show, right?
Video for "Girls Like You"Todd (VO): Cardi's gonna do her mini-set, blow Maroon 5 out of the water, and then that'll be that.
Todd: In fact, you can already see the backlash happening.
Clip of Fox Sports reportTodd (VO): Especially since the Super Bowl is in Atlanta for the first time since the city became a hotbed of popular music.
Clip of The Wendy Williams Show
Wendy Williams: Usher's from Atlanta. Why couldn't he do halftime?
Clip of Around the Horn
Tony Reali: I'm gonna say you get Outkast, you get Migos, and you get Donald Glover.Todd: Yeah, yeah! Think of all the great Atlanta artists we could've had instead. [images of...] Usher, Ludacris...B.o.B...Soulja Boy. What we need is a...
Video for Silento - "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)"Todd (VO): ...Silento halftime show.
Todd: [shrugs] I'd watch that before I watch Maroon 5 at least.
Adam: Yeah yeah yeah
I need a girl like youClosing Tag Song: "The Super Bowl Shuffle" - Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew
"Girls Like You" is owned by Interscope Records
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!