[artist id="1230385"]Maroon 5′s[/artist] new “Misery” video is a gleefully over-the-top affair, full of cartoonish, wanton violence, nifty stunt work and special effects, and a whole lot of good-natured wink-wink-ery. It is satisfying on many levels, particularly if you’re interested in seeing frontman Adam Levine beaten to a pulp, menaced by rocket launchers and tossed off a building into oncoming traffic.
And really, that’s the whole joke here. See, there’s plenty of folks out there who’d like to see Levine suffer some kind of bodily harm. After all, he’s supremely handsome and cocksure. He gets all the girls. He has sold millions of albums. You can’t blame folks for thinking that, on some level, he surely has this coming.
So, in “Misery” — directed by Joseph Kahn, who’s made videos for the 50s, Ems and Britneys of the world — the masses get their wish. Levine is subject to all manner of brutality, dished out by a blonde beauty who’s looking for (presumed) revenge. He is menaced, pummeled, pushed, pulled and very nearly blown up. He is thrown from rooftops, his fall cushioned only by the crumpled hood of a car. It’s telling, however, that he suffers nary a scratch. Instead, it’s his bandmates who are the victims, catching knives in the back, bouncing off speeding cars and exploding on street corners … all of these fates, of course, meant for Levine.
And that’s where the humor lies. Because “Misery” is a pretty sly comment on the nature of the good-looking frontman, the rock god, the one who gets the lion’s share of the attention. Turns out, he’s indestructible … though many are out to injure him, and no matter how many messes he makes, it’s the other guys who ultimately end up getting hurt, and, really, no one notices when they do. Of course, to hear Levine tell it, the video is also about “the sexual energy between two people,” and maybe it is, but I’d prefer to give Levine, Kahn and the rest of M5 a bit of credit for poking fun at archetypes, for being smart and even a bit understated. As understated as a video with explosions and blood and car crashes and beautiful people can be, of course.