Every John Mayer Single, Ranked: Critic's Take

Andrew Lipovsky/NBC
John Mayer performs on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Dec. 6, 2016.

After releasing a single nearly every year (multiple times a year) from 2002 until 2014, John Mayer took a break from his own music to join forces with the Grateful Dead for Dead and Company. So while he wasn't technically away from music until the end of 2016, his fans were getting antsy to hear some new original material after being spoiled for almost 12 years straight -- until he announced that ​The Search For Everything​ had begun.

The Search For Everything​, which will be Mayer's seventh studio album,​ kicked off with "Love on the Weekend" on Nov 17, 2016, continuing with Wave One -- a four-song EP including "Love" -- on Friday (Jan. 20). The first part of the follow-up to 2013's folksy ​Paradise Valley​ sticks to his more grown-up path while also taking his fans back to the good ol' Mayer days of acoustic jams, with more EPs to come monthly until the album is out in full.

As fans rejoice over new Mayer tunes, ​Billboard ​ranked every one of the 39-year-old's singles from his first ("No Such Thing") to "Love on the Weekend." Take a look at our ranking below.

24. "Say"

While the message of the lyrics has the capability of resonating with people young and old, Mayer's repetitive presentation of the song's main point ("Say what you need to say") ends up being more annoying than impactful.

23. "Shadow Days" 

Even Mayer haters have to appreciate his honesty in this Born and Raised​ track, but in terms of the melody and his vocals, the song doesn't quite measure up to his other singles. 

22. "Who You Love" (feat. Katy Perry)

Definitely an easy listening song -- especially with how soft both Mayer and Perry's vocals are -- but like "Say," it's a little too repetitive to really be a standout. Plus, for those who wish Perry and Mayer were still together, it's hard to listen to "Who You Love" without feeling a sense of sadness.

21. "Paper Doll" 

If this ​Paradise Valley ​song really is Mayer's fire back at Taylor Swift after she called him out in "Dear John" ("You're like 22 girls in one" was rumored to be in reference to Swift, with a reference to her song "22"), he did a pretty great job at masking a diss track with his smooth voice and wavy guitar riffs.

20. "Queen of California" 

With bouncy, electric guitar and playful vocals, this is perhaps the biggest homage to Mayer's older material on Born and Raised -- just with a folkier edge.

19. "Bigger Than My Body" 

On one Mayer's faster-paced singles (or songs in general, for that matter), his passionate vocals matched the vigor of the bold guitar and empowering lyrics. As for his falsetto, though, it wasn't ​quite​ as magical as what he brought in fellow ​Heavier Things ​single "Clarity."

18. "Something Like Olivia"

Mayer seems to have a hint of blues influence in many of his songs, but it's especially prominent in "Something Like Olivia." Between the frolicky rhythm and soulful vocals, it's hard not to at least tap your toes to this one.

17. "Waiting On the World to Change"

Although this thought-provoking track provided a dynamic opening to Mayer's ​Continuum​ -- and it's easy to hear that he put his all into singing the title lyrics -- it was followed by tracks that were even more powerful without fervent vocals or booming electric guitar.

16. "Half of My Heart" (feat. Taylor Swift)

You'd think the guy would know that making a love song with a girlfriend is the kiss of death. But when it results in something this catchy, I guess I don't blame him for doing it.

15. "Clarity"

A solid representation of Mayer's ability to make his guitar sound layered, "Clarity" also showed off his high-pitched vocal power, which makes for one memorable tune.

14. "Perfectly Lonely"

Amidst all of the lovey-dovey songs in the world, Mayer took a different route on this ​Battle Studies jam, declaring that living the single life can be pretty awesome with lyrics like "Nothing to do, nowhere to be, a simple little kind of free." Even if you are taken, it's hard to not sing along to the song's jazzy melody.

13. "Dreaming With a Broken Heart"

Prior to Battle Studies​, Mayer apparently wasn't feeling so chipper about being single and made it known with this heart-wrenching ​Continuum​ track. But his incorporation of piano, along with a poignantly passionate bridge ("Do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hands?" Mayer sings over amped-up guitar), makes the song more therapeutic than depressing.

12. "Wildfire"

The entire ​Paradise Valley ​album was a bit of a departure from the catchy acoustic tunes Mayer established himself with, adding a little more folk to the mix. But he brought in some funk on "Wildfire" that makes any listener stomp their feet and clap their hands no matter how they feel about Mayer's new vibe.

11. "Love on the Weekend"

Channeling the chill he brought on his first album, ​Room for Squares​, Mayer crafted another roll-the-windows-down croon with his first single from ​The Search For Everythingthat hinted he may be going back to his acoustic roots for his seventh LP.

10. "Your Body Is a Wonderland"

Mayer's voice is as smooth as butter no matter what song he's singing, but his breakout single may just be the best showcase of that. He practically whispers his way through the love-making tune, making any fan -- female or male -- swoon.

9. "Daughters"

While he may not have a daughter or​ a sister, he found a way to fool listeners that he does with the way he tells fathers to be good to their daughters. And with emotive acoustic guitar to match, he made it a relatable tune for even the daughter-less and sister-less people of the world like himself.

8. "Heartbreak Warfare"

With trancey electrics laced over striking guitar, the music alone in "Heartbreak Warfare" is enough to make it one of Mayer's best. Then add Mayer's smooth tone on top of it, and you'll find yourself getting lost in this track in no time. 

7. "XO"

There's something so admirable about artists who can take a song and completely make it their own. That's exactly what Mayer did with Beyonce's "XO," turning her electronic, bass-heavy R&B tune into a harmonica-tinged, acoustic love song that sounds like something he whipped up without any help from Queen B. 

6. "Why Georgia"

Mayer first showed off his falsetto abilities with his third and final ​Room for Squares​ single, foreshadowing what was to come on Heavier Things​ vocally as well as what was to come throughout the rest of his career musically.

5. "Who Says" 

Although this ​Battle Studies​ track has a guitar rhythm reminiscent of Continuum​'s "Stop This Train," it has melodical nuances that not only make it one of Mayer's standouts, but also one of his most boppable, without really having much of a hook.

4. "Gravity" 

Once dubbed by Mayer as "the most important song I've ever written," he sings about making sure you don't lose your way even when it feels like life is working against you. If the lyrics aren't enough to have an effect on you, the musingly slow tempo of "Gravity" and Mayer's heartfelt, soulful singing certainly should.

3. "Free Fallin'"

This may not be a Mayer original, but it may as well be (it has nearly three times as many Spotify streams as Tom Petty's version, after all). After performing it as part of his Where The Light Is live album, he never even recorded a studio version of "Free Fallin'" -- but perhaps that's what made it so special. The gentle way he strums his guitar and changes up the melody of the verses is almost poetic, proving that Mayer can effortlessly twist anything to sound like his own material.

2. "No Such Thing"

The suspenseful guitar buildup and hard-hitting note with which Mayer begins his debut single makes for quite the introductory declaration that hinted he was about to be one of music's next biggest names. And because he continues the song by showing off his vocal range as well as his unique music-making style, "No Such Thing" told the world that John Mayer is here, and he's not going anywhere for quite some time.

1. "Belief"

Considering the amount of hits Mayer had already released prior to ​Continuum​, he had set the bar high for himself by the time he released the third single from his third album. But he outdid himself on "Belief," combining practically every skill he has -- velvety vocals, masterful guitar playing, skillful layering -- to create a song that is almost as haunting as it is unforgettable.


THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.