In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Though he’s a comedian, actor, and writer with a bit of work under his belt, Whitmer Thomas is probably still best known for his kickass Tom DeLonge impression. Thomas does it in a bit he has about the Blink-182 song “I Miss You,” and it’s since been featured on podcasts like Put Your Hands Together and You Made It Weird. That impression even led to Thomas meeting and impressing Blink’s Mark Hoppus, with whom he now even plays in a rarely active, semi-comedic band, Snake Plissken And The I Thought You Were Deads.
The A.V. Club caught Thomas backstage at the Riot L.A. festival, where the group was playing, for a chat about another song he doesn’t much like.
The A.V. Club: Why is this the song that you picked?
Whitmer Thomas: I don’t know a lot of popular music. I only ever really listen to music that I like. Some of the stuff that I don’t like, I didn’t want to say mean things about.
I had thought about saying something about the Foo Fighters’ song “The Best Of You” because I love the Foo Fighters so much, and that song is so bad, and it just boggles my mind how they wrote that song and were like, “Yeah, let’s do this!” It’s awful. It’s like when Adam Sandler makes a terrible movie and you’re like, “Dude, you know better than this. Sort of. Maybe.”
The other song I was thinking about doing is that “Home” song by Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros because I don’t know if they’re being authentic when they say [Singing.], “Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my ma and pa…” I’m pretty sure they’re from L.A. I know that the singer has been in an L.A. band since he was a kid. I just feel like they’re kind of milking that whole folksy, whatever, big-floppy-hat music scene that was happening for a while. “We’re simple, we just like hanging out and sitting Indian-style” or whatever.
But then I figured out what I wanted to do today while I was going through popular music on Vevo. “Animals” by Maroon 5 is definitely a song that I have always turned off immediately when it comes on. It just attacks you in the beginning with Adam Levine going [Singing.], “Baby I’m preying on you tonight…” I feel like it’s him going like, “Look how good I am at singing and this melody is insane, and fuck you, you’re going to buy it, who gives a shit.” Also, in the music video it’s really annoying, because he like acts in all of his music videos, you know?
I don’t like him.
AVC: He makes out with a girl in the clip, of course.
WT: He either makes out with girls in their videos, or he’s going on a date with a girl, or he’s a dork, or… there’s this other video for a different song where they go surprise people at their wedding, but it’s definitely not a surprise. Why is it lit so well, you know?
Anyway, it attacks you in that intro, and I’ve always turned it right off. Switched over to whatever else. But then I started listening to it because of this. I was like trying to figure out the real reasons I really don’t like this song, and really, in it, he goes [Singing.], “Just like animals, animals, animals-mals.” So he goes, “mals-mals.” He actually says “animals-mals.” He does a thing that I’ve never heard done in a song before, in my whole life.
Emily Heller was just talking about—I was telling her I was doing this—and she said that Destiny’s Child did a similar thing where they went, “Can you pay my telephone bills / Can you pay my automo’bills.” That’s not a thing. There’s no “automo’bill.”
Anyway. So he says [Singing.] “animals-mals” to go with the melody, to fit that little end part. Instead of going [Singing.], “We’re like animals, animals, animaaaals” he goes, “animals, animals, animals-mals.” It’s infuriating! It is so infuriating that I went and looked up the lyrics, and even in some of the lyrics, some people who have written the lyrics and put them on websites, it says “animals” sometimes, and then other times it says, “animals”-dash-“mals.” And there are comments, like, “Is he saying animals’ moles?” “Why does he say…” It’s so infuriating.
I can’t figure out why he’s doing it for any reason other than he just knows people are going to buy it and he doesn’t give a fuck. It’s almost like he’s going, “You know what, fuck you. Here you go. I’m gonna say ‘animals-mals’ in this song, and you can have that.”
AVC: Nobody will say no.
WT: No one will ever say no, because people love Maroon 5.
AVC: Even the producer must have okayed it.
WT: Yeah! Nobody spoke up! Like, “Dude, you’re saying ‘animals-mals.’ Why? Can’t you just go, ‘animaaaals’ instead of that?” It’s the same song. Or, hopefully, fingers crossed, he just thought it was hilarious and he was just a funny guy.
AVC: Yeah, maybe Adam Levine is a lot funnier than we give him credit for.
WT: I don’t think so. I think he probably thinks he’s really cool.
AVC: People probably tell him he is.
WT: They definitely tell him he’s got a rockin’ tiny T-shirt on. That’s the other reason I don’t like him. It’s not that I don’t like him. It’s more like I’m annoyed by him. It’s because I was at KMart and he has a T-shirt line at KMart where it’s like these really tight T’s. “Get a tight Adam Levine T!” Like, dude, what are you?
I don’t even know what Maroon 5 is. I didn’t research them. I’m sure they were a band that started in L.A., but to me they’re one of the first bands that looks like, or at least acts like, those Craigslist bands where they were not even friends. I’m sure I’m wrong.
I remember when they first came out. I’ve always been conflicted about them. I’ve always felt like Adam Levine is playing rock star. I feel like he’s kind of a dork, and I wish that he would just be a dork, and not try to be a sexy man.
AVC: Was he this paragon of masculinity in high school?
WT: I feel like he saw Drive and was like, “I want to look like Ryan Gosling in that movie,” but he doesn’t have that same type of charisma. Before Drive I don’t really remember what he looked like. He probably just wore a hoodie and sang songs. I don’t really know. I remember [Singing.], “And she will be loved…” but I don’t totally remember what he looked like. I don’t know.
That’s the other thing about the music video for “Animals” is that they start to show the band, and it’s like, you guys aren’t even doing this anymore. You didn’t play on this record. It doesn’t feel to me like they all sat in the studio and recorded this song. Because if they would’ve, he would’ve never gotten away with saying “animals-mals.”
AVC: They just let him record his parts later when no one was there.
WT: That’s another thing that sort of frustrates me with pop bands, pop music, and especially with Maroon 5. There’s a Swedish format to pop music that you can look up, but Maroon 5 is definitely one of those bands that has that format and they just do it and they know they’re going to sell records. I can’t imagine a band sitting down and writing these songs. Even if they do, it’s a bummer to me that they don’t go, “Let’s do something else,” or “Let’s maybe not write a song where you can go ‘animals-mals.’” Or “Let’s put some more thought into this music video. Let’s not just have him dangling from meat.” That’s what the video is. He’s shirtless dangling from a meat hook and he’s singing and covering himself in blood, because, guess what? That meat is animals.
AVC: Do you not like any current pop music?
WT: I like Taylor Swift. I’ve never listened to a full Taylor Swift record, but I like her music and I like that she’s a good singer. I saw a video of her recently where she’s playing like a stripped down version of her record, and I thought it was cool. It’s not like I’d buy one of her records but I like it. Even Justin Bieber, I think he can sing well, Kanye’s great.
Drake is really annoying to me as a rapper. I kind of think he’s just a bad rapper, but he writes these really good songs. Like these fucking rhymes are so bad. There’s a song that came out a long time ago by Drake that goes like [Singing.], “I know way too many people here right now that I didn’t know last year, who the fuck are y’all, what am I doing, what am I doing, what am I doing, oh yeah that’s right, I’m doing me!” He forgets what he’s doing in the song, I guess. That was the first song of his I ever heard and I was like, “What the hell?” But then I’m singing it and I know all the words. Same with “Hotline Bling.” Drake has found his own format and it might not be the coolest, but it works.
Maybe I don’t hate a whole lot of music. I like a lot of punk music. It’s my favorite genre of music, but there are a lot of songs by different punk bands that I fucking hate.
AVC: But it feels weird to pick on smaller punk bands.
WT: Exactly. I’m not going to talk shit on the Voodoo Glow Skulls or even a bigger band like New Found Glory or something. I would never say a negative thing about a song of theirs I didn’t like because I want people to go buy their records. Whereas Maroon 5, they can take it. They’ll never even know this exists. Well, maybe they will, but—
AVC: Jenn Wasner from Wye Oak did a HateSong where she talked about a Papa Roach song, and then at her show a few days later, there were flowers from the band. I think she was like, “What do I do with this?”
WT: “Thanks for letting me hate your guts.”
That’d be cool if like Adam Levine sent me something. I want to know more. Make sure you put this in there. I want to know what’s up with the dudes with the bangs and the long hair in the background playing guitar and keyboards. They all have this beautiful hair that I’m very jealous of. It’s like horse hair: straight, beautiful… Are they all brothers?
AVC: It’s expensive hair, probably. They have stylists come and do all their hair.
WT: Yeah. But Adam Levine doesn’t have that hair. He’s got dark brown hair.
AVC: I don’t think they’re brothers, I think they’re just buddies. There was a girl on Project Runway recently whose brother was in Maroon 5, and she just had one brother, so…
WT: I can’t imagine Maroon 5 having family.
AVC: That’s fair. But also you can’t blame those other guys for staying in the band.
WT: Oh, no. I definitely understand why they’re in the band. I understand all of that. I understand why they make terrible songs. But I don’t understand why he says “animals-mals.” It will never make sense.