"I've never been interested in reality television," Levine says. "I accept the fact that there are Real Housewives out there, but I don't need to watch a fucking television show about it. These people are living their lives publicly so they can become famous and rich. I despise that. But when you're trying to become a singer, or even losing weight—anything like that I fully endorse. The Voice is built on positivity. Once we started filming, I knew that America was really going to love it."
Christina Aguilera was the show's star attraction at the outset, its resident diva. "I always thought Christina was the best pop singer around," Levine says. "She wasn't just a pop star—she could sing her fucking ass off." Still, Aguilera had a tough time finding her lane at first. "We butted heads a little in the beginning," Levine says. "I had sympathy for her being the only girl, though, so I laid off. Blake has a charming way of bickering with her, but I can't pull that off. We're totally cool now." Aguilera even sang some bars on "Moves Like Jagger," garnering the show some sizzle and Aguilera her first No. 1 hit in a decade. "Adam and the judges are like brothers to me," she says. "But Adam is definitely the more sensitive of the bunch. He has a softer side people don't see."
"You know what yoga's good for?" Adam Levine asks, pausing in mid-thought as he discusses his healthful lifestyle. He draws to his feet, balances in the private jet's narrow aisle, points at his crotch, and thrusts his pelvis like a porn star. "I'll tell you what yoga is good for: Fuuuuck-ing," he chimes, in a singsong falsetto, then laughs.
We're aboard a chartered jet en route to Costa Rica. Levine's bandmates—Valentine; the bassist, Michael Madden; the keyboardist, PJ Morton; and the drummer, Matt Flynn—have hunkered down with their iPads to catch up on their TV viewing (no Voice, but plenty of Justified and Mad Men). Morton glancingly mentions an obsession with the iPad game Temple Run. Levine's never heard of it; his head cocks, his eyes light up. For the next two days, including for the duration of this five-and-a-half-hour flight, Levine's nose is buried in an iPad as he tries to surpass Morton's high score of 2 million. "Fruit Ninja really messed up my life," he says. "I swear to you, I will reach 500,000 before this plane lands." (He falls just short.) Before, after, and even during games, Levine chirps amiably—about a Banksy documentary, the Lakers' new point guard, a song from Overexposed that sounds like it could be from The Lion King—at anyone who'll listen.
"I'm fiercely independent, but I'm also terrified of being alone," he says. "I travel in a pack. I like to be surrounded, not just with my boys, but with family, too." Many of his running mates date back to his Brentwood high-school days and beyond, a Bris Pack of Jewish showbizzers. (Levine's nickname is the Bear Jew, after the baseball-bat-wielding Nazi punisher in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.) Levine's manager of over a decade, Jordan Feldstein, is the son of Adam's dad's childhood best friend; Feldstein's younger brother is the actor Jonah Hill (ne Feldstein). "Jonah is family," Levine says. "He was a screwy kid, like me. We were both rebellious, didn't like school. And then, miraculously, this happens for the both of us," he says, gesturing, metaphorically, at the plane's plush leather upholstery. "I love that kid."
Through Hill, Levine befriended the actor Jason Segel in high school. Segel, who also writes and plays music, calls opening for Maroon 5 one New Year's Eve in Las Vegas "the coolest thing of all time." Most of his bro time with Levine, however—even in Sin City—is disarmingly low-key. "Usually when we get together, we have dinner and then sit around listening to music. And then we just talk," Segel says. "We remind each other that we were just kids who happened to be good at what we do."
Levine remains close to his family. When we land in Costa Rica, he complains about his mom, who's text-nagged him about attending a family function. "I love her, but sometimes . . ." His parents, who met as students in the late sixties at UC Berkeley, divorced when he was 7. He'd spend weekdays at his mom's and weekends with his father, and he still gets along with both, as well as with his sprawl of stepparents and stepsiblings. "Steps, halves—at least 30 minutes of explaining family-tree shit," he says. "But I have a big, wonderful family." Levine often takes his younger brother Sam to Lakers games. His dad owns a chain of local clothing boutiques; Adam appears in a TV spot for the opening of a new store. "It's a family operation: my aunt, my grandmother, and my father," he says. "I have a lot of respect for what they've accomplished."