Maroon 5 and SZA Are Trapped Inside My Brain: A Low-Key Cry for Help

It’s been seven days now.

Seven days since I first stumbled across Maroon 5 and SZA’s “What Lovers Do” on the radio.

You know that feeling when a new song first hits your ear and you’re spotting all the usual Top 40 production tricks on it and calling them out? You smirk knowingly to yourself, because of course you’re too damn sophisticated to actually enjoy such mass-marked banality, right? Cleverly predicting the track’s every bob and weave, you roll your eyes at the unsweet science on display.

But then WHAM—the melody suddenly cuts you like a right cross, landing a bit harder than you expected. Ouch. And before you can catch a breath, that hook is hammering all its weight directly into your eardrum. Your knees buckle. Before you know it, you’re down on the canvas for a 10-count, realizing in horror that you’ve completely fallen for it and you’re absolutely destined to wear this shit out on Spotify for the next two weeks or so.

This is how “What Lovers Do” did me. And it’s been bad.

I’ve got it so bad for this song that I’ve been ignoring the larger questions of life. Questions like: Is Maroon 5 still actually a rock band? Or just Adam Levine hitting a drum pad? With enough spins, even the worst parts of the track—like the time that Levine rhymes “baby” with “baby” four times in a row—become forgivable. Some 40 listens later, the faux pas even become endearing.

Truth be told, “What Lovers Do” doesn’t really have melodic hooks. No, it has grappling irons that sink their razor-sharp barbs irretrievably into your grey matter. I’ll be walking down the aisle in CVS, while an entirely different song is playing over their PA, mind you, and all of sudden that falsetto Ooh, ooh line from Levine clicks on inside my head, like a four-note fingertrap for my brain. Game over. I gotta go listen to it again.

On paper, since it’s Maroon 5, I was predisposed toward ignoring this. But since it’s also SZA, I was predisposed toward adoring it. So whatever Music Label Evil Genius dreamed up this pairing, I’d like to shake his hand and then bludgeon him to death with my Bose QuietComfort headphones, which are, themselves, getting pretty damn tired of playing this track over and over and over and over and over.

Help me. No mere SSRI or benzo can banish this melodic affliction from my head. I’m gonna need something herbal and homeopathic. Maybe a home remedy where I pour a neti pot full of slippery elm bark and licorice root directly into my ear canals. BRB—I’m headed to CVS.

Ooh, ooh.

Maroon 5