Deconstructing Maroon 5's Makes Me Wonder
In spite of some false starts and 17 months ofworking their breakout album, Songs About Jane, Maroon 5 has taken over the airwaves and worldwide singles charts, landing a number one spot with “Makes Me Wonder.” Let’s look under the hood to see what makes this danceable ditto run.
“Makes Me Wonder” begins with an intro in Bm at a very booty-shaking tempo of 114. Over a conga laden loop, a funky disco guitar rhythm sets up a groove with a lone string ensemble note adding tension. After four bars, a synth bass enters, a B for one bar, followed by an A, then G# and sneaking up to the leading tone, A#, before repeating. The singer, in a soulful voice, sings a melody centering around the B, flirting with the pentatonic scale. We find that the vocalist is distraught about a certain love interest, wondering if he should attempt to get back with this person. At the end of this 8 bar phrase, the band climbs down the B and A notes before entering the pre-chorus with a satisfying Gmaj7. This goes up to an A6, sounding very much like a number of disco (KC and the Sunshine Band) and pop tunes from the ‘70s. Here the singer decides that he doesn’t have a reason to get back and in fact he wonders “If I ever gave a ‘%#@!’ about you.” (Can you say that on the radio?). The single notes climb down again back into the Gmaj7, then A, but this time going back to the F# with A# bass taking us to the chorus.
The chorus starts with the line “Give me something to believe in, cause I don’t believe in you” which really sounds more like the title to this tune. Utilizing a semi-artistic sense, they named it after one of the thoughts one might have pondering a love lost. The melody shoots up to a D and back down the Bm scale, as the band plays an alteration of the verse chords-Bm, Bm/A, then down to the Em up to the F#/A#, leading back to the Bm. The orchestration is basically the same, with the string ensemble tone getting more active. Background harmonies enchance the melody and frame the words “anymore, anymore.” Harmonically, the second half of the chorus is similar, with the exception that instead of the Em, a G is used, then down to the F#, where the vocalist makes the proclaimation that ‘this is goodbye.’
The second verse sees the congas taking more of a prominent rhythmic role, following the bass guitar pumping 8th notes. Here the lyrics tell of the turmoil of wanting to go back to the lover and “forget what you’re going through,” and “forget about the truth.” There is some unfinished business, as well as some unsaid facts about some incident between the lovers. At the pre-chorus, our hero decides that his first idea was the best and to forget about it. Musically, the arrangement is similar with the exception of a one note guitar funky “scank” part being more prominent, pushing the energy ahead.
The second chorus turns into a double chorus leading into the bridge, which begins on the Gmaj7. This is almost a breakdown as the harmonic instruments accent on one and four over a disco drum beat (bass drum on all quarters).
The chords go down to the F#m, changing to the major F#/A# before a line B, C#, D, E, F#, syncopating into the Gmaj7. This repeats again, the second time the line going down-B,
A, F#, D leading into the last pre-chorus. At this point, we find the singer has been caught in a lie without an alibi (what is it?).
The B section is similar except it has an addendum of 2 bars where the chords go down to a bluesy F9, before launching in an Bm on the last chorus. The last chorus melody is loosened up with the addition of more BG vocals. When the line, ‘so this is goodbye’ is sung, the harmonies go down-Bm, Bm/A, Bm/G#, F#/A#. On the second time the F#/A# syncopates into an abrupt ending. “Makes Me Wonder,” proves that disco is still alive in 2007, not only on the dance floor, but on the radio, as well. If all dance songs were this satisfying melodically, harmonically and lyrically, they could always have a place in our musical conciseness.