Why You Don't Hear Much From Jason Mraz Anymore

During the turn of the 2010s, you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing a Jason Mraz ditty so laid back it was practically horizontal. Indeed, the keen fedora hat wearer rivaled Jack Johnson as the beach-friendliest singer-songwriter, thanks to massive Top 10 hits like "I'm Yours" and "I Won't Give Up" and their equally popular parent albums, "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things" and "Love Is A Four Letter Word."

Mraz later picked up Grammy Awards for best male pop vocal performance and best pop collaboration with vocals for his duet with Colbie Caillat, enjoyed a well-received run on Broadway as Dr. Pomatter in "Waitress," and even became a live favorite of none other than Barack Obama, who invited Mraz, among several other artists, to perform at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in 2012.

But, in recent years, Mraz has struggled to achieve the same kind of musical success (though he did become a "Celebrity Wheel of Fortune" winner in 2021, where, although he lost the bonus round $1 million prize, he won $139,300 for his charity, True Colors United). From accusations of appropriation to countless sidelines, here's a look at why the once-ubiquitous troubadour appears to have gone AWOL.

Jason Mraz embraced a new musical direction

After an impressive run of five consecutive Top 10 albums, Jason Mraz's seventh studio effort, "Look for the Good," failed to make even the Billboard 200. So why did so many fans of his impossibly sunny disposition suddenly jump ship en masse? Well, the singer-songwriter's new musical direction may well have been the root cause.

Mraz's sound has always flirted with reggae — see his signature hit "I'm Yours" — but at the lighter, watered-down end of the spectrum. However, in 2020, the Virginia native decided to show his love of the genre extended beyond a Bob Marley Greatest Hits. He recruited Michael Goldwasser, a producer famous for his work with roots reggae legends — including Toots and the Maytals and Steel Pulse — and invited socially-conscious dancehall star Sister Carol to help pull off the record.

Not everyone was on board with his vision, though. Album of the Year gave it a score of 60, with a weak user score of 44. Users described the album as being "painfully uninteresting" and as having "awfully cheesy" lyrics. However, Mraz still seems determined to lean into reggae, telling The San Diego Union-Tribune he plans to convert much of his back catalog "through the new reggae machine" on tour and record a second album steeped in the Jamaican sound.

Mraz became something of a punchline

At the peak of his popularity in 2009, Jason Mraz was invited to perform two songs on "Saturday Night Live." Unfortunately, the only other times his name has cropped up on the late-night comic institution since has been as a punchline. In a November 2021 episode, guest host Kieran Culkin portrayed Mraz for a Dionne Warwick talk show sketch. And he wasn't exactly introduced in the kindest of terms. 

Playing the legendary soul singer, Ego Nwodim said, "Now for our next guest. This man is not famous anymore, he does not have any songs out. Please welcome Jason Mraz." Ouch. The "Succession" star, who, of course, sported Mraz's signature fedora hat, acknowledged this was a rather harsh way of being welcomed onto the stage. But things didn't get much better, as Nwodim/Warwick immediately steered the topic of conversation to other starrier names such as Kanye West and Rihanna. "I'm sorry, can you ask me questions about me?" Culkin, as Mraz, moaned. 

This wasn't the first time that Mraz had been mimicked on "SNL" either. In 2013, he was impersonated by Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a skit called "The Mellow Show," which also took aim at fellow laid-back troubadours Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews.

Mraz has a farm to tend to

According to certain boomers, avocados are pretty much everything that's wrong with today's youth. Still, the current appetite for the fruit (yes, it is a fruit, not a vegetable) certainly hasn't harmed Jason Mraz, as the singer-songwriter owns a five-and-a-half acre farm dedicated to the stuff.

In 2004, the "I Won't Give Up" hitmaker purchased a ranch in Bonsall, California, simply as a "place to be isolated when you have a crazy life," as he later told Eating Well. But the multiple Grammy Award winner soon developed an interest in living off the land, which also boasts pomegranates, mangoes, guavas, and Meyer lemons, and, subsequently, became something of an accidental farmer, even growing his own coffee arabica beans.

Mraz told The Coast News Group that his farming duties have also informed how he approaches his day-job: "I would come home from tour and I would put my hands in the earth and watch something grow. It kind of introduced me to the patience of a long project ... you have to surrender to earth pace." He added, "It helped me do that in my creative art as well" by showing him that he can simply "nurture those ideas."

Could the singer's coming out have affected his career?

In 2012, Jason Mraz was celebrated as the first straight man ever to appear on the cover of LGBTQ magazine Instinct. But six years later, the "Wordplay" singer hinted he might not be as straight as everyone believed when he shared a poem he wrote for Billboard in aid of Pride Month, which included the line "I am bi your side."

Mraz later confirmed to the New York Post that, yes, he was bisexual, something which he'd found difficult to keep hidden during his career. "It was tough, 'cause not even my mom knew it, you know? And I realized that's the struggle that people in the LGBT community have," he said. "It can be a very stressful secret that we carry."

The singer-songwriter insisted to the New York Post there hadn't been a backlash to his coming out, adding, "Absolutely zero. And I think that's the cosmic joke. We carry around these secrets, and then once you say something, nobody cares." However, the fact that his first album released since the news, "Look for the Good," failed to make the Billboard 200 when his previous five LPs had all hit the Top 10 suggests that, perhaps, some of his more conservative fans didn't take the news well.

He's no longer interested in chasing hits

Jason Mraz hasn't reached the upper reaches of the U.S. Hot 100 since "I Won't Give Up" and "93 Million Miles" in 2012. But the singer-songwriter doesn't seem too concerned that his hit-making days appear to be behind him. In fact, he plans to eventually quit being a cog in the music industry machine.

In a 2018 interview with The Standard, Mraz claimed he wanted to get out of the rat race before it consumed him: "What's left for me to achieve is to walk away from it all. I see a lot of people grow old doing it and a lot of people get frustrated and I don't want to live my life like that."

But that doesn't mean the "Lucky" singer wants to give up his talents altogether. He added, "I feel like I have been given an extraordinary opportunity to give [music] a shot and have incredible success ... I feel like the next phase of my life will be using music for the power of good instead of the power of product."

Mraz is happy to keep his music happy

Jason Mraz made his name writing and performing songs designed to make you forget about the worries of the world even if only for three minutes. More than a decade on from the release of his signature hit "I'm Yours," Mraz still appears determined to maintain a sunny disposition at all times. But in an era when artists are expected to bare their souls, it's an approach which may have become detrimental to Mraz's chart fortune.

Mraz hasn't always been entirely averse to getting real. He told Billboard in 2018 that, in response to Donald Trump's election victory, he experimented with harder-edged material. But the perplexed crowd reaction to these "teenage rebellion songs" on tour soon made him realize he should stay in his lane. "Nobody wants to get their bad news from Jason Mraz," he said, adding, "Nobody wants to hear Jason Mraz having a bad day."

The multiple Grammy winner might want to keep the positive vibes going in his music, but he's not afraid to tell it like it is in interviews. "I mean, life sucks," he told Billboard. "We inherit a gnarly history. Everybody wakes up in this world totally f***ed. Unless your parents have a billion dollars."

The musician was accused of appropriation

In 2018, Jason Mraz courted controversy during an interview about the poem in which he declared he was bisexual. However, the vitriol wasn't anything to do with his sexuality. Instead, it was his unfortunate choice of words.

Mraz revealed to Billboard that his then-wife, Christina Carano, had given him a nickname after discovering his position on the Kinsey scale often fluctuated: "She calls it 'Two Spirit,' which is what the Native Americans call someone who can love both man and woman. I really like that," he said. But many readers were quick to point out that this particular term should only apply to Indigenous North American and First Nations people.

Native Peoples Magazine editor Tate Walker, for example, tweeted, "Non-Natives who try to co-opt Two Spirit as some trendy term their wives just picked out of the air are perpetuating settler violence tribal people — especially Indigenous queers and trans folx — have endured and survived for centuries." In his defense, Mraz soon expressed remorse for the offense he'd caused, tweeting, "I apologize for misunderstanding and misusing the term Two Spirit. Thank you for the correction."

Mraz makes more obscure music, like his song about mushrooms

Jason Mraz is still very much an active singer-songwriter. But many of his projects now lean more toward the obscure than the mainstream. While earlier collaborators included fellow hitmakers Travie McCoy, Hunter Hayes, and Christina Perri, his more recent duet partners have included the relatively unknown Rebecca Jade and Reneé Dominique.

And then there's the song he contributed to a film about mushrooms. Yes, in 2020, Mraz recorded "Disco Sun" for "Fantastic Fungi: Reimagine," a soundtrack album to the feature-length documentary "Fantastic Fungi: The Magic Beneath Us," featuring lyrics such as "And the message is massive/The reason they succeed is 'cause the seeds are so strong/And they're so psychoactive/But remember you're a flower." It doesn't exactly scream 'No. 1 smash.'

Mraz appears to be a keen advocate of the humble mushroom and its psychedelic powers, in particular. ABC News Radio reports that, for his appearance on "Celebrity Show-Off," he made an amusing video in which he tripped out after consuming a mushroom he'd grown on his very own Mraz Family Farms.

He spends a lot of time on TikTok

You might not have seen Jason Mraz that often on traditional media as of late. But if you're down with the kids, then you may well have stumbled across him on the social media phenomenon that is TikTok.

Yes, unable to hit the road during the pandemic, the singer-songwriter spent a notable amount of 2020 performing tracks from his 20-year discography from the comfort of his own bedroom, as he explained to People: "I like to go on at midnight and do an hour set on TikTok, just as a way to practice and engage with fans and be weird ... And it's fun, but the reality is that it's me alone in my room, which is also sad."

Mraz may consider it sad, but he has racked up an impressive number of followers on the app: more than half a million. But TikTok isn't the only youth-oriented pursuit the 40-something developed an interest in during his enforced break from touring: roller skating. "I just started skating in my driveway, skating down at the beach, just anywhere where there weren't too many people. And it put a different energy in my body, which was very similar to live performance," he told People.

Mraz has become a social justice warrior

Jason Mraz appears to spend just as much time fighting for social justice as he does creating the musical equivalents of Live. Laugh. Love. The proud fedora wearer set up his own eponymous foundation in 2011 to champion organizations centered on environmental preservation, education, and human equality. Mraz has also lent a hand to a Free the Slaves rescue mission in Ghana in 2009, has traveled to Antarctica for a seven-day mission in aid of climate change, and been recognized by the Surfrider Foundation for his efforts to save the world's coastlines and oceans.

Then, in 2020, Mraz admirably announced he would donate all profits from his seventh studio effort, "Look for the Good," to several organizations, including the Center on Policy Initiatives and Equal Justice Initiative, San Diego Young Artists Music Academy, and Black Lives Matter. Luckily, that also included the $250,000 advance he received, as the album didn't even sell enough to chart inside the Billboard 200.

He has an albatross around his neck

Chances are you have actually heard Jason Mraz's famously optimistic sound as of late — just not within the last decade or so. Yes, the troubadour hasn't had a major hit since 2012, but it's the one from four years before that's still racking up all the streams.

Alongside The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" and Eminem's "Lose Yourself," "I'm Yours" is part of that exclusive club of '00s hits that surpassed the 1 billion play mark on Spotify. Mraz seemed pretty stoked to have achieved such a feat, too. He took to Facebook to show off the plaque he received for the milestone, telling his followers, "Unboxing 1B Spotify streams. Thank you for listening to my jams."

Incredibly, the "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things" cut has added another 200 million-plus plays to its tally since. In stark contrast, the most-played track from his 2020 album, "Look for the Good," hasn't come close to the number of plays of his signature tune. And the majority of the album's songs haven't yet even reached the 1-million mark.

Mraz may have alienated his Republican fans

Jason Mraz has never been one to tackle the political realm in his impossibly sunny musical output. Addressing the administration's latest fiscal policies would kind of kill the whole beach-friendly vibe, to be fair. So it stands to reason that at least a portion of his audience likely were staunch Republicans entirely unaware that the troubadour is at the entirely opposite end of the spectrum. Not anymore, though.

Since Donald Trump was elected as president in 2016, Mraz has gone out of his way to make his political leanings crystal-clear — well, outside of the recording studio, anyway. In a 2018 interview with The New Statesman, the singer-songwriter said, "I guess in the last couple of years, there have been more sucky days than usual, especially with Donald Trump. Trump is America's answer to Kim Jong-un."

No. 45 also got it in the neck two years later following news that his administration would make vital cuts to the U.S. Postal Service (and, therefore, its capacity to handle mail-in voting) ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Mraz, who once worked alongside his father in the USPS, told his Instagram followers, "Tampering with elections is illegal. So is mail fraud. You or I would go to prison for it. Let's make sure the postmaster general and our President are held accountable for their actions, starting with a personnel change in the People's House. #vote #voteblue #votelouder."

The musician has been busy teaching

Jason Mraz may no longer be the ubiquitous hitmaker he once was at the turn of the 2010s, but he's still determined to inspire a new generation to take his place. In 2021, the "I'm Yours" singer teamed up with interactive music service Yousician to help launch a new tutorial project dubbed Spotlight.

Mraz joined the likes of metal heroes Metallica and multiple Latin Grammy Award winner Juanes for the initiative in which artists help budding musicians learn the tricks of the trade, revealing secrets about their songwriting and studio and stage experiences and offering personalized lessons relating to their biggest hits.

Speaking to Music Week, Mraz explained what inspired him to add teacher to his list of talents: "I've partnered with Yousician because I hope that anyone at any age feels that now is the right time to learn. Yousician makes it so easy to learn and play. It's like having a friend to personally guide you on your musical journey."

He reflected on his divorce and sexuality

In June 2023, Jason Mraz and Christina Carano announced their divorce after eight years of marriage. The singer looked back on his divorce and the journey he has taken since the split, saying that the experience has overall helped him accept his sexuality. "You want to heal as many relationships of the past as possible and at the same time, step into this new acceptance and new identity or whatever I'm claiming, and that's also hard," he said in an interview with GLAAD.

The artist — who came out as bisexual in 2018 — was named in the annual Out100 list of most influential LGBTQ+ figures in 2023. Mraz described a number of "scenarios" he processed while learning to come to acceptance with this new phase of his life. "It's both hard to do those and hard to unravel those, and what I'm basically describing is a divorce, you know?" he told GLAAD. "And that's very hard. You carry a lot of shame, guilt."

But in whatever he does, Mraz continues to turn to music as a way of not only healing from his life experiences but also learning from them. "[Songwriting] helps you peel the layers off of yourself," Mraz shared with The Advocate. "It helps you continue to express yourself and understand the lessons you're learning in life and understand why you have the loves and the interests you've had in your life."

His eighth album didn't make as big of a splash

Jason Mraz released his eighth album "Mystical Magical Rhythmical Radical Ride" in June 2023. The singer explained he was inspired to use this project as a way to explore new musical areas of his personality. "I definitely went into the studio trying to understand and figure out the disco and dance elements, because that's something I hadn't yet done," he shared with RetroPop about making the album. "I feel like anything I had done that was uptempo in the past still had a rock feel to it and I wanted to try to get a little more into the dance lane, because I haven't experienced that before. I wanted to try something new."

Mraz even asked his mother for her opinion as he was creating the record, and she encouraged him to make a fully pop-flavored tracklist. "She said, 'These are great, but I feel like you've done this before,'" he revealed to Billboard. "She said, 'What you need to do is make a pop album before it's too late.'"

The album's first single, "I Feel Like Dancing," was released in February 2023, and the album dropped during Pride Month. But in comparison to his past successes — like "I'm Yours" and "I Won't Give Up" — the "Mystical Magical" album failed to make an impact on the Billboard U.S. charts. However, the album cracked the top 40 digital download charts in both Japan and the U.K. and entered the top 100 chart in Switzerland.

He made a resurgence on Dancing with the Stars

Following his dance-pop-fueled album release in 2023, Jason Mraz took to a whole new floor (literally) to expand his artistic reach. Mraz joined the cast of Season 32 of "Dancing with the Stars" and was partnered with pro dancer Daniella Karagach. The pair became early fan favorites and danced their way to the finals. "What little [dancing] experience I had was in high school and college," Mraz shared with TheWrap. "But that was 25 or 30 years ago. I just didn't know I had it in me. But this show will bring it out for anyone. You get paired with a world-class, if not world champion, professional who's going to teach you how to dance at the best level that you can possibly dance."

Mraz credited his movement-happy single and music video, "I Feel Like Dancing," as the catalyst for him being cast to compete on the show. "I like to think that caught the eye of the producers," he revealed to the publication. "I was out there in the world saying I feel like dancing, singing it every night on tour, and the universe heard it. And now I'm on the Olympics of dance."

But Mraz wasn't letting the competition get to him too much. Instead, he's focusing on the fun of it all. "My approach is to ... take it one day at a time and one dance at a time," he explained. "I just have to keep putting in the hours and dancing to the best of my ability."

He made sound wave art to benefit charity

Both music and mental health are important to Jason Mraz, and he found a way to combine the two through one-of-a-kind sound wave art. The singer created three unique sound wave art pieces based on his biggest singles — "I'm Yours" and "Lucky" — with proceeds going towards the SIMS Foundation. The foundation actively "provides mental health and substance use recovery services and [support] for musicians, music industry professionals, and their dependent family members," according to their mission statement.

This isn't the only charity that counts Mraz as a champion. In fact, Mraz founded his own foundation in 2011, the Jason Mraz Foundation. Its mission has expanded to support "inclusive arts education and the advancement of equality." As of 2023, the foundation has donated more than $1 million to small arts-based groups and programs around the country.

"Music being a powerful fundraising tool, and an easy one at that ... it's so cool to create the foundation that I can then use music and the fun we have to make sure that these projects continue to thrive," Mraz told the Washington Examiner in 2012.