Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine does a disgusting and disturbing acting turn in the band's new music video for "Animals," which could seriously cause you nightmares. Co-starring supermodel Behati Prinsloo (Levine's wife), the clip features Levine as a psychotic and literal butcher, who becomes obsessed with his beautiful customer and starts stalking her. He finds out where she lives, snaps pics without her consent, has grand delusions of bedding her and having the bestest, sexiest blood-soaked sex with her.
Unlike Maroon 5's horrendous "Misery" music video, this little ditty shoots for at least some gritty realism, with Levine's character trying to actually make a move on his -- as the song describes her -- "prey." She rejects him.
This is a character who owns a bunch of knives with an unhealthy relationship with meat, mind you. Sex and violence combine in what are ultimately these delusions, but hint at the possible rape and bloody murder for the characters after the tape stops rolling.
I can't say that Levine's willingness to appear as a mentally ill predator of unsuspecting women is "brave," per se; the video's gaze falls repeatedly on his and her stunning mostly naked bodies, a pretty cheesecake move, particularly with one's wife. I'm particularly stunned, though, at how game director Sameul Bayer is presenting (without preaching or commentary) very grotesque, gory cinematography along with the scenes of sexualization, an excessive pouring-out of blood over their unbelievable coitus. And how bad it makes Levine look.
It's an extremely confrontational, and purposefully provocative video, despite its most absurd, asshole-ish elements. While we crown our celebrities as -- say -- People's Sexiest Men Alive, or Victoria's Secret Angels, it's not like we really know them. Similarly, our biggest pop songs and stars use predatory lyrics and we accept them wholecloth or at least as part of the norm. Persona and person and character blend.
"But don't deny the animal / That comes alive when I'm inside you... Baby, I'm preying on you tonight / Hunt you down eat you alive / Just like animals / Maybe you think that you can hide / I can smell your scent from miles," Levine croons. This song is a Top 40 staple, right this minute. Give that a think, and how the conception of those lyrics gives way to this gross visualization.
It's tells a story, I'd argue, that has crossed the minds of many women, women even who are fans of Maroon 5: that the man with the neckbeard at the club whose flirtations you reject will come back and murder you.
This is to say, even the lightest, silliest, most exaggerated or heavy-handed pop music sometimes dares to challenge the status quo with something disgusting or heartbreaking. This song is very disturbing, and this promotional tool (the video) forces the viewer to just think about it. It is up to us -- fans, viewers, critics -- to accept or deny the turn. It makes pop music complicated, if you want it to be.
A video like this forces that challenge. Remarkably, even for a band like Maroon 5.
Samuel Bayer has directed other interesting -- if not iconic -- music videos for artists like Green Day, Nirvana, David Bowie, Garbage, Sheryl Crow, Marilyn Manson and more. "Animals" is off of Maroon 5's newest album "V."