This song finds Adam Levine singing to his sweetheart: "I just wanna be there where you are. And I gotta get one little taste." The Maroon 5 frontman penned the song with hitmaker Dr Luke who has co-produced many of Katy Perry's singles, Jacob Kasher (Cobra Starship's "Good Girls Go Bad") and Mike Posner (Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend").
The song was produced by Cirkut who also helped pen Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" and Amno who is signed to Dr Luke's publishing company and has Kesha's "We R Who We R" amongst his credits.
The song featured in a Nissan advertising campaign. The link-up with the automobile manufacturer was a natural choice, due to them being the sponsor of The Voice, the show on which Adam Levine serves as a coach.
The music video was directed by filmmaker David Dobkin and shot in Los Angeles during December 2014. The clip follows the plot story of Dobkin's 2005 romantic comedy film Wedding Crashers as we witness the band drive across Los Angeles, surprising a handful of newlyweds on their big day. "Adam and I are old friends and have been talking about doing something together for over a decade," said Dobkin. "Plus, it's very meaningful because the band was in New York ten years ago and attended the original Wedding Crashers première."
Mike Posner originally wrote this for his own aborted Pages album. "Adam (Levine) wanted the song," Posner recalled to Billboard magazine. "He called and asked for it months before and I said no. But when Pages wasn't going to come out and I sort of had the seedlings of this new record, I thought, 'Well, this is just gonna sit on my laptop' so I gave it to them and when they recorded the song Adam added his flavor to it and he wrote on it as well, lyrically and some melodic things, and he really sang it well. I'm a big fan, so I'm glad they did it."
This establishes a retro '70s/'80s feel from the get-go, with two types of synth and a faux vinyl crackle added to the eight-second intro.
The chorus is the biggest section, taking up 55% of the song, a feat unmatched by all of its fellow Top 10 hits in the first quarter of 2014, except for Meghan Trainor's "Lips Are Movin" and Fall Out Boy's "Centuries."
A title like "Sugar" can be risky. Sure, it's easy to remember one word, but when that word regularly shows up in song titles (over 30 in our database), it can be just as easy to forget. The gamble paid off for Maroon 5, though, who chose to repeat it 20 times throughout the song and add a dose of sex to spice up the sweet.
The lyrics are full of sexual innuendo, but the song managed to elude censors because, hey, he's just singing about sugar, right? Like Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me," the sweet title is a euphemism for sex and Levine plays it up in the lyrics. He's "gotta get one little taste" and:
I want that red velvet I want that sugar sweet Don't let nobody touch it
"Red Velvet" is a popular cake choice but velvet is also a double entendre for a certain part of the female anatomy. Don't blame our dirty minds - that analogy dates all the way back to Victorian England.
If you inexplicably find yourself singing Michael Jackson's "Beat It" after listening to this, it's because both songs have a similar chorus structure with an almost-identical syllable count. Note in "Beat It":
Show-in' how funk-y strong is your fight It does-n't mat-ter who's wrong or right
And in "Sugar":
Yeah you show me good lov-in', make it al-right Need a lit-tle sweet-ness in my life
The band performed this song at halftime of the 2019 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.