Courtesy Photo (2)
Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
CRAIG JENKINS: Maroon 5 is a machine of startling pop efficacy in 2014; “Animals” arranges all the notes where they should be -- without ever making you feel anything. Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj’s “Bang Bang” exudes character even in areas where the lyrics drag. It’s “Lady Marmalade” for the smartphone generation. My Vote: “Bang Bang”
CAITLIN WHITE: As the years progress, it seems like Maroon 5's primary goal is to become a parody of themselves. It's 2014 and we're still letting a song that compares dating or hooking up to predator and prey? Even if that wasn't terrifying on a gut-level due to the rampant issues with rape culture that we still face, the metaphors are clunky and nonsensical. Meanwhile, Jessie J's camp finally figured out that the best way to get a pop hit out of her was to decrease her presence on the track as much as possible. When given just one verse and half a hook to handle, Jessie actually almost pulls of diva pipes. Plus the anti-"Blurred Lines" theme of this song — alternating "good" and "bad" girl personas, flipping the line "I know you want it" so it comes from our girls — turns this into a triumphant bit of all-girl glory. My Vote: “Bang Bang”
JASON LIPSHUTZ: Good for Jessie J, who aligned herself with two stars so bright that even a tepid bad-girl anthem had to shine on U.S. radio for months. Maroon 5 snatches Top 40 smashes on the regular, but hearing Adam Levine’s processed voice promise “Hunt you down, eat you alive” in the first five seconds of “Animals” compels me to change the channel. And lo, Max Martin tops Shellback again. My Vote: “Bang Bang”
JILLIAN MAPES: Not even a Nicki Minaj verse can save “Bang Bang” from devolving into a barrage of over-sung vocal runs, cheerleader handclaps and fake trumpets. I dislike how pre-assembled for chart domination “Bang Bang” appears to be; in no world do Jessie J, Ariana, and Nicki seem like IRL pals. Even though Adam Levine’s “Teen Wolf” impression is the cheesiest thing I’ve heard on Top 40 radio in a minute, the near-perverse intensity of “Animals” draws me in on a primal level. My Vote: “Animals”
JEREMY D. LARSON: Maroon 5 wants you to think this song is about a sexy lupine guy named Nash or Cody or Yaris who’s ripped from the pages of YA novel about teens who wear expensive jeans by day and morph into lusty werewolves at night, but I can't get over how Adam Levine says “Like animals, moles” at the end of every verse. Moles don't hunt — they're just small, burrowing mammals with sleek fur who thrive in underground climates. The song is all wrong. Give me "Wake Me Up Before You Bang-Bang" any day. My Vote: "Bang Bang"
HARLEY BROWN: Three of pop's leading ladies on one song? Yes, please! Seriously though, "Bang Bang" is goddamn catchy, and it's nice to see all these women performing/recording together for good and not boring, or in competition with each other. "Animals" is fine, but it's no "Moves Like Jagger." My Vote: "Bang Bang"
OVERALL WINNER: “Bang Bang"