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Story of Song

Adam Levine was asked by The Guardian why people relate to this song, to which he replied: “I think in the age of the cell phone, the payphone has transitioned from this thing we used to use on a very regular basis to this thing that is only associated with being used by someone under duress or in an emergency. If you’re using a payphone that illustrates the point that you’re struggling somehow or you’ve lost your cell. You’re stranded. It indicates something much more than it used to mean, and that’s kinda cool.”

When producer Benny Blanco was asked about the story of the song by Artist Direct, he said: “I was down in Virginia and two of my writers Ammar Malik and Daniel Omelio ‘RoboPop’ were kicking it down there as well. They were working on ideas. They started this thing on an organ and sent it over to me. The first thing I heard was ‘I’m at a payphone’ I was like ‘Holy f–k, that’s ridiculous. We’ve got to elaborate on that.’ We tweaked it a little bit. I sent it to my friend Shellback. I was on a train to Boston, and he shot an idea right back. We tweaked it more. When we write songs, the lyrics will be nonsense with the melody at the beginning. We sat on it for a month or so, and it all came together.” Blanco also spoke about featuring Wiz Khalifa on the song, saying: “I love it when there’s a weird collaboration that doesn’t make sense on paper. I said, ‘Wiz you’ve got to jump on this track.’ Five minutes before he showed up, I realized I didn’t have a beat for the bridge. So I made the beat really quickly. I want to catch you off guard. When you’re listening to it, you have no idea he’s going to come in.”

Maroon 5 wanted to pursue a “no guests” policy for on their album Overexposed, but they didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to involve Khalifa. When Levine was asked about this by MTV News, he responded: “He’s already so huge, but he hasn’t really done many big pop records, actually, so just the idea that he’d be interested in doing it was enough to get him involved. It was too good to pass up. He’s a wonderful guy, he’s so creative and so quick.  Watching him in the studio, he was just so in it, within 30 minutes he had this incredible verse and he’d already knocked it out.”

Release date

Released April 17, 2012


Adam Levine – Benjamin Levin – Ammar Malik – Dan Onelio – Shellback – Cameron Thomaz


A&M – Octone

Chart Rankings

‘Payphone’ topped the UK Singles Charts becoming Maroon 5’s first UK chart topper selling over 866.000 copies. The British Phonographic Industry certified it Platinum. In the US, the single peaked at number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Adult contemporary charts while it topped the Adult Top 40 and the US Mainstream Top 40 charts. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it 5 times Platinum for sales over 5.510.000 copies. ‘Payphone’ was a worldwide success, achieving the top spot in several countries, including Canada, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Scotland, South Korea and Spain. It reached the top 10 charts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland. In South Korea, the song sold over 2.415.436 copies. It was certified 5 times Platinum in Australia and Canada, Triple Platinum in Mexico, and Double Platinum in Denmark, Italy, and New Zealand. ‘Payphone’ was certified Platinum in Switzerland, and Gold in Canada and Germany.

Artist’s age on release date

Maroon 5 had been active for 18 years when this song was released. Wiz Khalifa was 24 years old.

Cover Versions

Pentatonix – Jayesslee – Boyce Avenue (acoustic) – Alex G Featuring Jameson Bass (acoustic) – Megan Nicole & Dave Days – Alex Goot featuring Eppic – Rani Ramadhany (drum cover) – Max Schneider & Avery – Leroy Sanchez – Tanner Patrick – Rajiv Dhall & TwentyforSeven – Tiffany & Jervy Hou – OUTONO09 (Rock cover) – CIMORELLI – Julia Sheer – Sungha Jung (guitar) – Jeremie Bellomo – Hobbie Stuart – Gamaliel & Audrey – Sabrina Vaz – Austin Criswell – Jason Chen – MattyBRaps – Sam Tsui – Paradise Fears – Jannine Weigel – James & FJ featuring Ricardo Munoz – Beth – Kawehi cover – Nix (ukulele cover) – NJC Violin (violin cover) – Other amateur artists covered this song on Youtube.

Added by Slate

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