Adam Levine Honors Sinéad O’Connor With ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ Cover but Will Only Tell Billy Joel Story Behind Maroon 5’s Name

“That video is a f-cking masterpiece, and the song is too,” he says of the late Irish singer’s rendition of Prince tune

December 14, 2023

Before finding fortune and fame with Maroon 5, Adam Levine was the frontman of the band Kara’s Flowers when he was just in high school. When that project flamed out, who knows what would have happened if it weren’t for classic rock icon Graham Nash. “I’m really, really, really close with his son — one of my best friends on the planet earth,” the singer, who was in-studio with bandmates James Valentine and PJ Morton to honor Sinéad O’Connor told Howard Wednesday morning. “It’s funny, he was this rock and roll legend but also kind of like my friend’s dad.”

When Nash discovered that Levine was working on some new songs with what became Maroon 5, he offered to step in. “He put us in with some amazing people and helped me make a demo, and that demo wound up being the demo that got us our second record deal,” he recalled. “He was hugely integral in us getting a kind of second chance because we wouldn’t have had any money to make the demo, we got signed off of so that was huge … I will always be eternally grateful to [Graham].”

In fact, Levine was so grateful to Nash that he offered to pay him back for the studio time and give him a gold record. “I don’t think he cared about any of that and that was kind of a proud moment when I was able to kind of repay him — and I did give him a gold record,” he told Howard.

A Matter of Trusting Billy Joel

Howard, who once got Carly Simon to reveal who “You’re So Vain” was written about, wondered if Adam would finally explain the meaning behind the name Maroon 5. “Ask Billy Joel — Billy Joel knows,” the singer replied before recounting how he spilled the backstory to the Piano Man after bumping into him at a New York restaurant very early in the band’s success. “He was like, ‘Alright, so where did you get the name?’ … I was like, ‘Alright, you can’t tell anybody, but you’re the only person we’ll ever tell.’”

“You tell Billy Joel, of course,” Valentine, who was also at the table that night, said in support of his singer.

Though he wouldn’t cave and reveal the secret to Howard, Levine doubted it was that interesting anyway. “It’s the fucking dumbest story in the world that no one would remember,” he insisted with a laugh.

Nothing Compares 2 Sinead O’Connor

When Adam was approached about honoring a late musician for the Stern Show, he came up with the idea of covering Sinéad O’Connor’s version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” — a song written by Prince. Despite being a huge fan of the Purple One, the frontman believes the late Irish singer did it even better. “They added these like really kind of cool chord changes and melodic shifts and things that weren’t there originally and turned it into this like heartbreaking, like insanely emotional different type of song and brought it to the place that it really should have been,” he explained. “That doesn’t happen often, especially when it’s a Prince song.”

Levine also pointed out the brilliance of the song’s video, which mostly consists of a close-up shot of Sinead’s face. “Every single feeling she felt was right there, and that’s not easy for anyone to do — that shows you how her vulnerability and her kind of raw like way was so perfectly depicted in the video and that’s why it worked,” he noted. “That video is a fucking masterpiece, and the song is too.”

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