"Payphone" (CD Single)

Music review by
Jessica Dawson, Common Sense Media
"Payphone" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Popular with kids
Anti-love song is full of profanity; get the edited version.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 41 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Adam Levine is postively sick of love songs, apparently. "Payphone" is an anti-love song.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Levine is making a bigger name for himself helping out would-be stars with their long shot at fame on the hit show The Voice. His counterpart on this song, Wiz Khalifa, was arrested for drug possession.


Unedited version says "All those fairy tales are full of s--t" and "One more f--king love song I'll be sick." The edited version replaces those words with "it" and "stupid." Wiz Khalifa's rap part also has "f--k" and "s--t" a few times on unedited version.


Levine debuted this song on the hit show The Voice, on which he is a celebrity judge.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that "Payphone" is a catchy anti-love song about a past relationship and does have some profanity ("f--k" and "s--t") sung by Adam Levine and featured rapper Wiz Khalifa. There's a clean version available.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byshanerocks August 30, 2012

One of my favorite songs!

It's fine for anyone if you get the clean version. I love this song! Unedited version says.... "All these fairytales are full of s--t", "One... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDogcat August 12, 2020

My mom LOVES Adam Leivene!

My mom really LOVES Adam Leivene. I think it’s ok, but it’s good.
Teen, 14 years old Written byAnthony_Luciano11 October 2, 2019


Sad song that is what my interpretation of the song. Not a good song to listen to right after a break up heart break etc, but still a very good song. Has some l... Continue reading

What's the story?

Maroon 5 and rapper Wiz Khalifa team up to spread the wealth in their single "PAYPHONE," a track about failed relationships and the resentment and loss that follows. The song premiered on the hit show The Voice, on which Adam Levine is a celebrity judge.

Is it any good?

Yes, "Payphone" has its lyrical and melodic moments, much like most of Maroon 5's tunes, but it lacks a depth and purpose. Like "Moves Like Jagger," "Payphone" is fun and singable, but it doesn't go much beyond that. Wiz Khalifa adds a little spice, but not enough to make this single memorable. Like its namesake, "Payphone" may be obsolete in a few years, but for now, it's there if you need it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that profanity is becoming more and more common in mainstream music. Do you think it's OK for radio stations to play songs with the bad language cut even when it's still obvious what bad word is being said?

  • Adam Levine seems to be embracing the bad boy side of music here, in contrast to earlier material. Do you think musicians need to adopt a riskier, sexier image to be successful and relevant?

  • Levine debuted this song on the hit show The Voice, on which he is a celebrity judge. What do you think of that as a marketing strategy?

Music details

  • Artists: Maroon 5, Wiz Khalifa
  • Release date: April 24, 2012
  • Type: Single
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Genre: Pop
  • Parental advisory: Yes
  • Edited version available: Yes
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate