Presently sitting at number 2 on Billboard and ARIA charts (after previously hitting #1 on the Billboard), Moves Like Jagger is the quadrennial reminder that yes, Maroon 5 do exist. And they make music still! How cute! It also has Christina Aguilera in it, presumably a pairing borne of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera working together on US talent search The Voice. So naturally, after spending so much time searching for said Voice, Levine has returned his band to success after – IF NO ONE ELSE WILL SAY IT, I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO – a bit of a SLUMP, quite frankly. For shame, Maroon 5. For. Shame.
Apparently drawing inspiration for the clean, unedited vocal stylings of the various Voice contestants, Levine here employs an un-autotuned, naturalistic vocal delivery showing off his vocal range. HAHAHA nah I’m just fucking with you, his voice is blatantly digitised. It’s an irony that fits well with the song’s apparent homage to the schizoid movement of Mick Jagger, whose music was most popular in a time where people, you know, sang.
It’s the second pop song in as many years to pay homage to the leathery, somewhat effete sexuality of the Stones frontman – yes, the other is Tik Tok. So it clearly has a reputation to uphold; an oeuvre to maintain, if you will. That oeuvre just so happens to be the “fucking idiotic but painfully catchy” oeuvre of which Tik Tok is a paragon. I think it’s worth addressing here the overwhelming, uncompromising unsexiness of Mick Jagger. I mean, really. Even in his heyday the man looked like a bizarre alien-human hybrid of questionable gender and, as we all know, now looks like a a gypsy’s shrunken head. Like Skeletor crossed with Billy Ray Cyrus crossed with Kate Moss. Like Aron Ralston if he had never cut off his arm and stayed there to die. Like someone whose own face is violently rejecting their hair. There is so very little sexy about this man that, on a list of World’s Sexiest Frontmen, I’d place him several places below 1980s Cher.
That said, this song is not called ‘Face Like Jagger’, mercifully. It is Moves Like Jagger, which Levine & Co. apparently believe to something that you show to a lady after you eat their face:
Take me by the tongue
And I’ll know you
Kiss me ’til you’re drunk
And I’ll show you
You want the moves like Jagger
I’ve got the moves like Jagger
I’ve got the moves like Jagger
It’s a sentiment which, without the Jagger thing, or the fact that Levine is a bit of a ladyman himself, would be kinda sexy. “Take me by the tongue and I’ll know you?” Hot. “Kiss me til you’re drunk”? But I already know you that seems unn- “You want the moves like Jagger” dude all I did was kiss you calm d- “I’VE GOT THE MOVES LIKE JAGGER, I’VE GOT THE MOOOOOVES LIKE JAGGERRRRR” AHHHH WHAT ALRIGHT FINE. It’s another song that comes off kinda rapey in the right kind of light. What kind of light reveals rapeyness? Ultraviolent? Eh. I mean, it’s obvious that moves like Jagger refer to the sexy sex, because there’s nothing appealling about a standing-up seizure. Jive Parkinson’s. The Hand-tremor Tango.
The song itself, though, it catchy, for sure. It starts off with the apparently very now whistle hook, which has more recently appeared in Britney Spears’ I Wanna Go and something else recent that I can’t really remember. Apparently Hollywood music executives have finally heard Peter Bjorn & John’s Young Folks and said, “THAT. THAT’S THE 2011 SOUND!” Although I like the idea of some old man chained to the radiator in a basement of Universal Music Group’s headquarters who doesn’t get food unless he comes up with 3 whistleable hooks a day. Maybe it’s Mick Jagger? What else does he have to do these days?
The whistling is accompanied by a simple, jangly guitar hook and pulsing synth, and when it comes together it works. The pop songwriting is obvious here; the best 3 hooks they could come up with are probably all on this song, which is why this will be the biggest hit on the album. Christina Aguilera pops up to add some diva grunt to proceedings, initially stopping the song’s momentum dead in its tracks, but quickly picking up when the beat kicks back in and her periodic wail meshes and subsequently overpowers Levine’s weak, not-quite-pubescent voice. But she wouldn’t have it any other way, now, would she?
This is a pretty great pop song, but in the most clinical sense. Whistle hook + verse vocal hook + chorus vocal hook mimicking whistle hook + metronomic beat + reference to famous and idolised rock star + guest bridge by famous vocal powerhouse = number one hit. But songs that read ‘hit’ like this are much fewer and further between nowadays, so, uh, kudos? Kudos. Also, this: