The Sad, Lazy Adam Levine Cheating Scandal, Explained

In Esquire’s September issue, I spoke about our current listless national mood, our inability to look our best in this post-but-not-really-Covid, post-still-kinda-amid-Trump moment . It’s our great American Quarterassening; it finally has its first big scandal; This scandal is disappointing, and it’s not even about people marinating chicken in NyQuil.

No, this week our phones have been buzzing with what we need to call now pull out Notifications as Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine has been repeatedly accused of sending flirtatious text messages to a number of women who are not his wife. First, Instagram model Sumner Stroh posted a video in which she claims to have had a year-long affair with Levine, showing screenshots of DMs from his official IG account as proof. These DMs don’t necessarily prove an affair, but they are certainly flirtatious and then Levine asks if he and his wife could name their son after her. What these messages — and their context within his marriage — show is Adam Levine’s inability to consider the well-being of others, which we already knew because we’ve already heard the “Moves Like Jagger” hook.

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Inevitably, more women came forward, including one whose screenshot revealed this exchange:

Woman: I’m weird too and only listen to metal lol

Adam: Said no hot girls except you

Woman: Lmaoooo, I’m like a total lunatic

Adam: I love that. Witchy.

There is indeed a lot to laugh your ass off about: metal as something that is “witch-like”; Metal as a genre not owned by “hot chicks”; ssaying “hot chicks”. But the killer is that he posts all these messages from his verified account, surely the worst decision he’s made with his smartphone since saving his tattoo artist’s number.

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Al Bello//Getty Images

What this news shows more than anything else is the complete lack of effort this guy puts into both extramarital creeping and making excuses for it. In his mea culpa— also posted to Instagram, but of course — Levine says, “I crossed a line at an unfortunate time in my life,” which is just an amazing statement of something you did in June. He swears he didn’t really have an affair, and if we take his word for it, he risked it all for a few private messages telling Instagram models they’re hot, which a) is so healthy it’s almost is naughty, and b) they already know.

Accommodation is contagious, as always. Sumner Stroh claims she wouldn’t be in touch, other than that she’d already shared a screenshot of those messages with a friend, who then made a deal to sell them to a tabloid, which somehow left her no choice but to post them himself and slandered Maroon 5 as “elevator music”. (That’s harsh, and it’s also wrong: As I clarified before, Maroon 5’s music is “Satan’s girlfriend’s ringtone.”) Another of Levine’s accusers says she posted her DMs because “they feel really bad for Adams Woman, model Behati Prinsloo, feels, and encourages other girls to do the same.” You see, she adds to her humiliation because she takes care.

This is the gender scandal our culture deserves. That’s worse than being dragged off to a Maroon 5 show and realizing the only song I recognize from them from the last ten years is actually four completely different songs. I wouldn’t turn around for a scandal like that. Bad work all around.

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Dave Holmes appears in every print issue of Esquire. Subscribe here.

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