Whether you are already a fan of the multi-award-winning band, or are a curious new listener, you may be wondering what the first song recorded by Maroon 5 was.
Maroon 5’s first song was “Harder to Breathe”. This was the leading song on their very first album, Songs About Jane, and was released little more than a month after the debut as a single.
Although it would come to be eclipsed by its more well-known siblings on the same album, “This Love” and “She Will Be Loved”, it was the first song both chronologically on the album and as a standalone release. For the majority of the band’s members however, it was not their first release, just the first under moniker Maroon 5. Prior to adding James Valentine to the lineup, they had a studio release as Kara’s Flowers.
Long before they would become Maroon 5, four of the core members of the band were part of a group named Kara’s Flowers, formed during their highschool years. Although the yet-to-be Maroon 5 would have various experimental releases during this period, including an album that the group released on their own, the first official studio album as a band was The Fourth World.
In tandem with the album, the song “Soap Disco” was released as a single.
Despite high expectations, the sales were disappointing and the music simply never took off like they had thought it would, leading the record label to a decision that would have them parting ways with the group of young musicians.
Becoming Maroon 5
After a shaky initial foray into the music industry, the band separated for a short while. During this separation, Adam Levine, the lead singer of what would later become Maroon 5, moved to New York with fellow band-mate Jesse Carmichael.
It was here that Levine and Carmichael would become engrossed in the culture of music unique to New York at that time, an influence that would later come to transform the sound of their own music, when they would finally reunite.
Shortly before reuniting, however, they would enlist James Valentine to the group, allowing Levine to focus on vocals. All of these factors together would be the catalyst that would finally transform the group from Kara’s Flowers to Maroon 5.
First Album Debut
Maroon 5’s first studio release would be a serious departure from their roots as Kara’s Flowers. Just as much of a change was the reception that the band received. Even though it would be a slow start for the California natives, the new album that they had released would enjoy a steady rise in popularity as time went on.
The first single that they released, “Harder To Breathe”, was well received by critics and was afforded the luxury of enjoying exposure in the upper end of the music charts.
It would be a successful outing for the group, far more successful than their previous attempt. So successful, in fact, that later down the line they would release the far more popular “This Love” (which would net them a Grammy), then “She Will Be Loved”, all from the same album.
Though “Harder To Breathe” may not have managed to reach the same heights in the charts as the two singles that followed it, it helped to cement the bands new style and musical direction.
Double Meaning Behind “Harder To Breathe”
The story of the song is, at first listen, one that follows the same lyrical thought process as the rest of the album – That process being the story of Levine and his love interest at the time, Jane. The song is rife with themes of heartbreak and hints of frustration.
The undercurrent of frustration and anger through the lyrics of the song become all more poignant when taking into account Levine’s own recollection of the writing of the song. He recalls that the record label was putting pressure on the group to write more songs for the debut album.
It was this external pressure, at the very last minute before the finishing of the record, that prompted the writing of “Harder To Breathe”.
Interestingly, even though it was chronologically their first song as Maroon 5, “Harder To Breathe” was one of the songs that were written last on the album, born from a completely different place than the rest of the music they had been writing up until that point.