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Harder to Breathe

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"Harder to Breathe"
Maroon 5 - Harder to Breathe.png
Single by Maroon 5
from the album Songs About Jane
ReleasedJuly 15, 2002 (2002-07-15)
Length2:53 (album version and radio version)
Producer(s)Matt Wallace
Maroon 5 singles chronology
"Harder to Breathe"
"This Love"
Music video
"Harder to Breathe" on YouTube

"Harder to Breathe" is a song by American band Maroon 5. The song was written by frontman Adam Levine for the band's debut album, Songs About Jane (2002); the song expresses tension, having been written quickly under trying circumstances. It tells the story about a former relationship Levine was involved in. "Harder to Breathe" was met with positive reception by music critics, who praised the track's sound. It was released on July 15, 2002, as the lead single of Songs About Jane.

The song peaked at number six on Airplay Monitor. In spite of Maroon 5's later mainstream success, it also appeared on the Alternative Songs chart at number 31 and the Billboard Hot 100 at number 18. Internationally, the single charted at number 13 in the United Kingdom. "Harder to Breathe" also appeared in the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand charts, respectively.

"Harder to Breathe" was included from Maroon 5's 2004 EP 1.22.03.Acoustic in an acoustic version and the live album Live – Friday the 13th (2005).


In an interview with MTV News in August 2002, Maroon 5 vocalist Adam Levine, when asked behind the development of "Harder to Breathe", admitted that the song describes the band's frustration with their label, Octone Records, during the making of their debut album, Songs About Jane; the band thought they had enough material for a release, but when the label told them to keep writing, Levine wrote this song in frustration at the pressure. "That song comes sheerly from wanting to throw something. It was the 11th hour, and the label wanted more songs, it was the last crack. I was just pissed. I wanted to make a record and the label was applying a lot of pressure, but I'm glad they did."[2]

"Harder to Breathe" tells the story of a relationship Levine had with a woman named Jane Herman,[3] who, according to Levine was the "muse" in the band's album. MacKenzie Wilson of AllMusic described the song as a "soulful disposition".[4] Meghan Bard of The Daily Campus described the single featuring "a great up-tempo number with gritty guitar riffs and powerful vocals" from Levine.[5] Bard noted that the theme in the song was about "recovering from heartbreak".[5] Angus Batey of The Times compared "Harder to Breathe" sounding as "Zeppelin-esque".[6]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received positive reception from critics. In the Rolling Stone review of the album, critic Christian Hoard called "Harder to Breathe" "a strong single".[7] C. Spencer Beggs of The Observer wrote: "The two singles ['Harder to Breathe' and 'This Love'] are the most popular songs on the album, showing off Maroon 5's characteristic clean, crisp and upbeat sound."[8] Sam Beresky of the Daily Lobo, who was less enthusiastic about the album, complimented Maroon 5 on "Harder to Breathe", in which he said, "The song is enjoyable. There are some aspects of mellow, soulful rockers like Train, John Mayer — maybe even a little Stevie Wonder or Jamiroquai; the track has a good rock meets R&B sound and is predictable enough to get radio play."[9]

In October 2003, Levine told USA Today, regarding the success of the song, "I didn't love or hate the song, and I didn't care if it got on the album. We have a lot of pop songs on our record, and the idea was to start out with something different. Why come out of the gate with another pop song by another pop band?"[10] The following year, the band released an EP titled 1.22.03.Acoustic (2004), which features "Harder to Breathe" in an acoustic version.[11][12] In 2005, Maroon 5 released a live album, Live – Friday the 13th, which features the song performed live.[13]

Commercial performance[edit]

Maroon 5 released "Harder to Breathe" in 2002 as the lead single of their debut album;[10] the single charted on Airplay Monitor in the number six position.[10] It peaked at number 18 on Billboard's Hot 100;[14] the song also appeared on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart in the number 31 position in 2002[14] when it was an independent single before it hit commercial radio stations in 2003–04, it is the band's only song played on alternative rock stations along with "This Love", while the rest of the band's other singles were only played on pop and adult contemporary radio outlets considering Maroon 5 as a pop rock band and not an alternative band. Internationally, "Harder to Breathe" appeared in the UK Singles Chart on January 31, 2004 in the number 13 spot;[15] the song spent seven weeks on the chart.[15] The single appeared in the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand charts.[16]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Harder to Breathe" was directed by Marc Webb,[17] who later worked with the band for their 2008 video "Goodnight Goodnight";[18] the video was released on August 19, 2002.[17]

The video is centered on Maroon 5 playing in a dimly-lit house/factory. Throughout the course of the video, items such as darts on a dart board, candles, pictures, and even members of the band with their instruments are shown fading in and out. Towards the end of the video, Adam Levine is seen walking through a narrow corridor dragging a guitar with pictures on both sides of the wall fading in and out; when he reaches the end of the corridor, he is face to face with a wall with a small light coming out of it and then flings his guitar backwards and then pounds on the wall. The camera then quickly moves to a scene of the band playing and the lights suddenly flickering on.

Appearances in other media[edit]

"Harder to Breathe" was featured in the television shows, One Tree Hill, ER, Third Watch, Miss Match, Birds of Prey, So You Think You Can Dance and Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. The song appears in the 2004 crime thriller film Mindhunters; the song has appeared on the video games, Band Hero, Rocksmith and BandFuse: Rock Legends.



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[35] Gold 35,000^
United States (RIAA)[37] Platinum 1,318,000[36]

^shipments figures based on certification alone


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  3. ^ Hoard, Christian (2004-05-19). "Maroon 5's White Funk". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  4. ^ Wilson, MacKenzie. "Songs About Jane". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  5. ^ a b Bard, Meghan (2003-04-01). "Get down with Maroon 5". The Daily Campus. Retrieved 2009-05-07.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Batey, Angus (2004-08-14). "The gonna be famous five". The Times. London: News Corporation. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
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  8. ^ Beggs, C. Spencer (2003-10-16). "Songs About Jane, an album with music and message". The Observer. Retrieved 2009-05-07.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Beresky, Sam (2003-07-31). "Maroon 5 falls short of their influences". Daily Lobo. Retrieved 2009-05-07.[dead link]
  10. ^ a b c Gundersen, Edna (2003-10-12). "Slow-building single keeps Maroon 5's star rising". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "1.22.03.Acoustic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
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  14. ^ a b "Harder to Breathe — Maroon 5". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-02-15.
  15. ^ a b "Chart Stats — Maroon 5 - Harder To Breathe". Chart Stats. 2004-01-31. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  16. ^ "Maroon 5 - Harder To Breathe". Australian Charts. 2003-12-10. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  17. ^ a b "Maroon 5 - "Harder to Breathe"". Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  18. ^ "Goodnight Goodnight — Maroon 5 - Music Video". MTV. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
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  21. ^ " – Maroon 5 – Harder to Breathe". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  22. ^ "Chart Track: Week 5, 2004". Irish Singles Chart.
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  24. ^ " – Maroon 5 – Harder To Breathe" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  25. ^ " – Maroon 5 – Harder To Breathe". Top 40 Singles.
  26. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  27. ^ " – Maroon 5 – Harder To Breathe". Singles Top 100.
  28. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  29. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  30. ^ "Maroon 5 Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  31. ^ "Maroon 5 Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  32. ^ "Maroon 5 Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
  33. ^ "Maroon 5 Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  34. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2004" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  35. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2013 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  36. ^ Trust, Gary (June 15, 2014). "Ask Billboard: MAGIC!'s 'Rude' Revives Reggae". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media.
  37. ^ "American certifications". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links[edit]